Many tech companies, flush with success in 2019, are planning to accelerate the pace of employee training and development in 2020. But even if your workplace provides you with all the educational and training opportunities you need, you will still need to step up and take responsibility for developing your own career path. 

Many businesses fail to align their training with strategic business objectives, so you need to pay attention to the market to determine the skills you need to stay ahead, according to David Foote, chief analyst of Foote Partners LLC.

Don’t necessarily assume that certifications will be the best way forward, either. That’s because the premium pay for the certified skills tracked by Foote Partners neared a 19-year low in 2019.

To help you make the right moves, Foote reviewed his predictions from last year and referenced data from the firm’s “IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index” to forecast the roles and key skills that will increase in value (as well as those that might lose ground) in the coming year.

Jobs Trending Upward

Big Data

Last year, Foote correctly predicted big things for professionals who work with “Big Data,”and 2020 promises to be another blockbuster year for them.

In fact, Big Data analytics is the highest-paying skill tracked by the analyst firm, garnering premium pay ranging from 16 to 21 percent of base salary in 2019. However, the 51 certified skills in the firm’s Big Data category lost value, partly because the intersection of IoT and Big Data is creating a multi-disciplinary field. The fact that the 106 non-certified Big Data-related skills were up 5 percent in value is further proof that the playing field is changing.

Want to jump on the Big Data train? Data scientists, data architects, data strategists and new-breed DBAs will be able write their own tickets next year. If you’re looking to move up the corporate ladder, companies will also be investing in the emerging role of Chief Data Officer. Other emerging skills that will be in-demand include real-time streaming analyticsautomated analytics and frameworks for BD workflows, and cloud data management.

Internet of Everything (IoE)

With the total number of connected devices projected to reach 1 trillion by 2025, Foote predicts that IoE will continue its expansion throughout 2020. 

However, because most non-standardized devices lack built-in security, the growth of IoE will also impact the cybersecurity field, creating new opportunities for information/cybersecurity engineers and infrastructure specialists experienced in cloud and software development.

Buoyed by industries such as vehicles and transportation, health and fitness, manufacturing operations and retail, designers and engineers of all types, along with scrum masters and business-intelligence professionals, will benefit from the IoT expansion. Professionals who want to be on the cutting edge should consider acquiring experience with device management (MEMS)gateways, or Apache Spark, NoSQL/NewSQL, machine learning or data mining.

Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and Machine Learning (M.L.)

Foote expects organizations to make big strides in adopting artificial intelligence (A.I.) and machine learning (M.L.) in 2020. So much so, that the A.I. field is developing its own specialized job descriptions, roles and job titles such as conversational A.I. developer, A.I. or M.L. software engineer, A.I. interaction designer, data curator and so forth.

Foote further predicts that the merging of BI/analytics, data science and data engineering teams and skill sets will facilitate operationalizing production-quality Big Data pipelines. In other words, companies will get a lot better at analyzing massive amounts of data for insights. 

Best of all, professionals with cutting-edge A.I. skills garnered pay premiums of 12 to 17 percent (based on the firm’s latest survey), while professionals with M.L. skills earned premiums ranging from 13 to 18 percent. Having experience with Google’s open-source TensorFlow machine learning library is worth a 14 percent premium on average. In fact, the value of that tech skill has increased 8 percent over the last six months.


While Foote foresees yet another strong year for cybersecurity specialists, the field is a rapidly changing environment. Specifically, he says that companies and government agencies are increasingly turning to A.I.-powered security solutions and tools to identify and thwart “bot-driven” cyberattacks.

He also predicts that natural-language capabilities of A.I. will play a bigger role in cybersecurity tools. Therefore, while the role of cybersecurity will become even larger, experienced tech professionals will need new and different skills, including expertise with A.I. and M.L., along with soft skills such as curiosity, tenacity and persistence, in order to succeed over the next three years.

The shift in the most popular ways to confront cybercrime could be a reason why the 95 info/cyber security certifications tracked by Foote Partners experienced a 5.3 percent decline in value over the past year. Certifications bucking the trend by showing growth included: Information Systems Security Architecture Professional and Certified Information Systems Security Architecture Professional (ISSEP/CISSP).

Jobs Trending Downward

If there’s a silver lining in this black cloud, it’s that Foote doesn’t foresee a robot taking over your job anytime soon. However, tech pros in the following roles may face career headwinds, especially from increasing automation, in the coming year.

Installation and Maintenance Technicians

Most of these tech jobs are being outsourced to cloud providers.

Tech Monitoring and Control

More and more monitoring and control duties are being carried out carried out by machines.

Traditional DBAs

As Foote correctly predicted last year, the demand for traditional DBAs is diminishing. They are being replaced by “new breed”DBAs who understand security and how to manage data access and authorizations, in addition to other expanded tasks.