SQL, Java Top List of Most In-Demand Tech Skills

Illustration of a computer with SQL beneath it.
Illustration: iStockphoto

By: Tekla S. Perry

What tech skills do U.S. employers want? Researchers at job search site Indeed took a deep dive into its database to answer that question. And, at least for now, expertise in SQL came out on top of the list of most highly sought after skills, followed by Java. Python and Amazon Web Services (AWS) are coming on fast, and, should trends continue, may take over the lead in the next year or two. (Python came out on top in IEEE Spectrum’s analysis of top programming languages for 2019.)

Indeed’s team considered U.S. English-language jobs posted on the site between September 2014 and September 2019; those postings encompassed 571 tech skills. Over that period, Docker, the enterprise container platform, sits at number 20 on the list today, but that is the result of a dramatic climb over that five-year period. Demand for proficiency in that platform-as-a-service grew more than 4000 percent, from a barely registering share of 0.1 percent of job post mentions in 2014 to 5.1 percent today. Azure jumped more than 1000 percent during that period, from 0.6 percent to 6.9 percent; and the general category of machine learning climbed 439 percent, closely followed by AWS at 418 percent. (The top 20 for 2019, along with their 2014 shares, are listed in the table below.)

Indeed’s researchers note that the big jumps in demand for engineers skilled in Python stems from the boom in data scientist and engineer jobs, which disproportionately use Python. AES’s growth, they indicated, has been fueled by the proliferation of full stack developer and development operations engineering positions.

Employer Interest in Tech Skills

Key: Green = greater than 10 percent increase, Red = greater than 10 percent decrease, Yellow = less than 10 percent increase or decrease

Rank Skill 2014 Share 2019 Share Change
1 SQL 23.6% 21.9% -7%
2 Java 19.7% 20.8% 6%
3 Python 8.1% 18.0% 123%
4 Linux 14.9% 14.9% 0%
5 Javascript 12.4% 14.5% 17%
6 AWS 2.7% 14.2% 418%
7 C++ 10.6% 10.7% 1%
8 C 9.3% 10.3% 11%
9 C# 8.3% 9.3% 11%
10 .net 9.9% 8.4% -15%
11 Oracle 13.5% 8.4% -38%
12 HTML 9.8% 8.1% -17%
13 Scrum 4.8% 8.0% 64%
14 Git 3.1% 7.8% 148%
15 CSS 7.8% 7.3% -5%
16 Machine Learning 1.3% 7.0% 439%
17 Azure 0.6% 6.9% 1107%
18 Unix 10.0% 6.7% 33%
19 SQL Server 7.8% 6.5% -17%
20 Docker 0.1% 5.1% 4162%

Source: Indeed

This article originally appeared in IEEE Spectrum on 19 November 2019.