16 of the hottest IT skills for 2015

2015 will bring new opportunities for professional growth and development, not to mention more money. But what specific skills will add the most value for your career advancement in the new year.

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The Hottest IT and Tech Skills for 2015

What skills should IT professionals add to their toolbox to increase their compensation in 2015? To find out, CIO.com worked with David Foote, chief analyst and research officer with Foote Partners, to comb through the firm's quarterly data to uncover what skills will lead to higher pay in the short term and help them navigate the tech industry for next career move in the long term.

Foote Partners uses a proprietary methodology to track and validate compensation data for tech workers. It collects data on 734 individual certified and noncertified IT skills. Of those skills, 384 are of the noncertified variety and the focus on this report.

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Cloud Skills

Cloud adoption continues to accelerate as organizations large and small try to capitalize on cloud computing's cost benefits. In fact, it's become a mainstream in IT organizations. Cloud adoption among IT departments everywhere is somewhere near 90 percent for 2014. "Companies began discovering the cloud about four years ago and it's been quite volatile in the last year. Will companies continue to invest in the cloud? The answer is 'yes,' " according to Foote.

Although Foote Partners has found a 3 percent to a 3.5 percent drop in market value, Foote notes it's an area with some unpredictability but it's cyclical. "It's a volatile marketplace when it comes to talent," he says.

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Architecture

Foote points out that as organizational complexity is increasing, businesses are becoming more aware of the value of a great architect and these roles are showing up with more frequency among his clients. The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) skills, in particular, are the most highly paid noncertified IT skill and a regular on the hot skills lists.

"We know a lot of companies are getting into architecture in a bigger way. They're hiring more architects; they're restructuring their enterprise architect departments. Their starting to see a lot of value and no one is really debating that you can never have too many talented architects in your business. This is not something you can ignore. Everyone is thinking that no matter what we do today, we have to always be thinking down the road -- three years, five years or more. The people that do that for a living are architects," says Foote.

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Database/Big Data Skills

Big data is attractive to organizations for a number of reasons. Unfortunately, many of those reasons haven't panned out. According to Foote, companies got caught up in the buzz and now they are taking a more conservative approach. That said, this is an area that Foote Partners expects to grow in 2015. Adding any of these skills to your skillset will make you more valuable to any employer looking to capitalize on the promise of big data.

Although it just missed their highest paying noncertified IT skills list, pay for data sciences skills are expected to increase into 2015. "This group [of skills] is in transition. There is still a big buzz factor around data sciences which will result in companies paying more for this skill, "says Foote.

Data management will increasingly be important as companies try to wrangle actionable data from their many disparate sources of data.

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Applications Development Skills

Applications development is undoubtedly a hot skills area. Demand for both mobile and desktop developers continues to increase and this trend will continue well into 2015. However, Foote Partners data suggests that the three skills listed here are poised for significant growth in the coming year. It's worth noting that JavaFX and user interface/experience design skills also made Foote Partners list of highest paying noncertified IT skills.

Organizations are more regularly refining their digital customer experience, making user interface and experience design crucial skills in the coming year.

JavaFX is coming on strong as it replaces Swing in the marketplace.

Agile programming is new to the noncertified IT skills list, but Foote predicts pay premium for this area to grow into 2015.

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SAP and Enterprise Business Applications Skills

SAP is a global organization related to ERP applications ranging from business operations to CRM. Foote partners tracks nearly 93 SAP modules and have noticed a lot of fluctuation in value over the last year among these modules. However, according to Foote Partners data, SAP CO-PA, SAP FI-FSCM, SAP GTS and SAP SEM are all expected to be hot in 2015.

security skills 2015
Security Skills

Security has come to the forefront in 2014 with organizations large and small being targeted by cybercriminals. The list of businesses attacked is long but includes some heavyweights like Sony, eBay and Target to name a few. Foote points out that cybersecurity is now part of today's lexicon to both techies and consumers alike.

"Security is blown wide open. Cybersecurity has now become an issue that everyone sees as important. Inside cybersecurity skills and certifications there is a lot of activity. It's gone mainstream. I think you're going to see cybersecurity on this list for some time to come," says Foote.

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Management, Process and Methodology Skills

Project and program management are new to the list, but Foote Partners predict this area to be in high demand in 2015.

Foote emphasizes that fluctuations in pay premiums don't tell the whole story. They also apply what they have learned from the data provided from the 2,648 employers that they work with. That's why you may have noticed that some skills covered appear flat. Some of these make the list of hot skills because Foote Partners has uncovered some data or trend that will likely drive up pay in these areas in 2015.

"There is more than recent pay premium track record considered in our forecast list. We talk to a lot of people in the field making decisions about skills acquisition at their companies. We look at tech evolution and where we think skills consumption is heading and so forth," says Foote.

+ Read all of Network World's stories looking ahead to 2015 in IT +