Considering the myriad ways technology has changed the world of work, it should come as no surprise that traditionally non-technical jobs have begun demanding technical skills from candidates. Even the least computer-y job you can think of will probably require at least some sort of tech knowledge in coming years.
About two-thirds of the highest-paying and fastest-growing jobs in fields such as design and marketing now require computer science skills, according to a new report from labor market analytics firm Burning Glass Technologies and Oracle Academy, the philanthropic educational arm of cloud software providers Oracle.
The report found that non-technical jobs calling for machine-learning skills tend to pay the most, with an average salary of $111,802 among such jobs. Other tech skills are in high demand among non-technical jobs, too, including Java, Apache Hadoop, NoSQL, Chef, Puppet, Ruby, and Python.
Welcome to the World of Hybrid Jobs
Programming was once a skill left to the folks in the IT department, but that's no longer the case. As more jobs begin to cross over into the tech realm, companies are looking for layman candidates who can speak the language of programmers.
"Designers and marketers are great examples of non-technical jobs that increasingly use computer science-related skills," says Alison Derbenwick Miller, vice president of Oracle Academy. "For example, today's designers need to understand digital technologies. In fact, designers are becoming core members of software development teams. Web developers and user experience designers, which focus on creating software products, are at the forefront of the demand curve. In terms of marketers, roles such as product managers and market research analysts are digital and data-driven. Digital marketing represents the fastest-growing and highest-paying skills in the marketing field."
This type of crossover demand has led to what Oracle Academy refers to as "hybrid jobs."
"We're seeing an emergence of hybrid jobs that require both technical and non-technical skills," says Miller. "In these types of roles, candidates are expected to have a combination of programming skills, data analysis skills, and domain-specific skills such as marketing, finance, or business strategy."
Higher Education Must Emphasize Computer Education
In response to this seismic shift in the nature of work, many colleges and universities are starting to offer multi-disciplinary degrees that combine computing and other fields. Given that hybrid jobs will only become more common as time goes on, colleges and universities will play a crucial role in ensuring the American workforce is ready for the new economic reality.
"To meet the market demand for computer science skills, universities and colleges should provide ample opportunities for non-computing majors to undertake computer science coursework," Miller says. "They should also proactively make students aware of the value of these skills and encourage students to make time to learn them."
Miller names Harvey Mudd College as an example of a higher education institute that has successfully developed popular computer science courses for non-tech majors.
"This approach offers diverse exposure to the field and can attract underrepresented groups to computing," Miller notes.
Miller's advice for those of us facing this new economy: "To maximize opportunities for success, we recommend engaging in computer science classes or workshops as early as possible."
As technology continues to advance, computer skills will only become more necessary – even in the most general of jobs. Whether candidates develop skills on their own or through formal schooling, it's clear that candidates with a few technical skills in their pockets will stand out in today's job market.