The ways technology allowed the world to navigate a global pandemic were extraordinary, and the explosion of all things virtual created new opportunities for computer science professionals. Schools continued to operate through the shift to virtual learning thanks to infrastructure enhancements implemented by engineers with automation and virtualization skills. Organizations shifted seamlessly to new operational models thanks to the work of systems architects with cloud technology skills. And teams of software developers, product managers, and cybersecurity experts made it possible for families to stay connected with loved ones using technologies that could rapidly and safely scale with new demand.
The widespread switch to remote work may have had the most significant impact on technology. Before COVID, 47 percent of employed Americans never worked remotely, and most organizations had highly restrictive telecommuting policies. Midway through 2020, many companies embraced remote work, and 44 percent of employed Americans worked from home 100 percent of the time. To illustrate just how significant and rapid the change was, consider that one major engineering firm in the southwest U.S. went from having 10,000 active remote employees to more than 60,000 active remote employees in just one week. The organization, like many others, was sent scrambling to expand and refine the necessary technological infrastructure to support the unexpected transition.
COVID ultimately hastened the evolution of computer science in largely unpredictable ways. Organizations had to fast-track new system investments and implementations. Technology professionals had to reskill quickly to keep up with changing bandwidth, network, and security needs. Since then, demand for the latest computer science skills has only increased and will likely continue growing. Many technology professionals are refreshing their skills in 2022 by enrolling in master’s degree programs such as Tufts School of Engineering’s online Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS).
The Top Must-Have Computer Science Skills in 2022
There was a time when programming skills were all it took to land a job in computing, but advancements in information technology and computer engineering have changed the employment landscape. The skills computer science professionals now need to succeed are evolving, requiring technologists to learn new programming languages and algorithm design or to get familiar with new operating systems and computer systems more regularly.
The top computer science and software engineering skills technology professionals need in 2022 include those that support a growing Internet of Things (IoT) and the expansion of remote work across industries. Still, cybersecurity skills and cloud computing skills aren’t all employers want to see in new hires this year. They’re also looking for:
As we become more connected, robust security becomes increasingly crucial. Digital information systems house our personal information, business assets, and financial information and power our homes, cars, the power grid, banking systems, water supplies, and agricultural systems. It’s all subject to intrusion and attack. That’s to say nothing of the vulnerabilities in our national security infrastructure.
As we began to work remotely, data once confined to corporate networks started moving across public networks. This large-scale shift from secure business and government networks to home networks created massive security vulnerabilities. Cybercriminals were quick to exploit them. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, there is a cyberattack every 11 seconds in the U.S., which is near twice the 2019 rate and four times what it was in 2016. Industries that had to change their operations models due to the pandemic felt the impact most acutely. Healthcare, retail, hospitality, and consumer manufacturing and distribution had notable increases in data breach costs year over year. Consequently, more organizations hired professionals with developed cybersecurity skills.
Crucial cybersecurity skills include information system analysis, incident handling and response, networking, and increasingly, programming. Employers also look for professionals with IT experience and skills related to threat analysis, data encryption, penetration testing, ethical hacking, configuring routers and firewalls, and risk mitigation. The Introduction to Security course in Tufts’ online computer science master‘s curriculum teaches in-demand cybersecurity fundamentals. Topics covered in the coursework include attacking and defending networks, cryptography, malware, reverse engineering, and web security.
Blockchain, a distributed ledger shared among the nodes in a computer network, is quickly becoming a critical security technology. Instead of holding information in tables, as a database would, blockchain holds information in blocks of set storage capacities. When blocks fill up, they are closed and linked to the previously filled block, forming a chain of data. All new information that follows the freshly added block goes into a newly formed block that is added to the chain when filled.
Blockchain allows digital information to be recorded and distributed but not edited, making it very secure. A blockchain can serve as the foundation for immutable ledgers, which are records of transactions that cannot be altered, deleted, or destroyed. Members of the same network control what data the members of an organization can see and manipulate. This is why blockchain is also known as distributed ledger technology (DLT).
Cloud Computing Skills
During the pandemic, cloud-based applications such as Zoom had to scale quickly to meet soaring demand, and broadband providers had to adjust their services to accommodate increasingly distributed workforces. Global Knowledge recognized cloud computing as one of the most in-demand skills of 2021, and chances are demand will go up in 2022. According to research firm Markets and Markets, the global cloud computing market will grow from $445.3 billion to USD 947.3 billion by 2026.
The steady increase in cloud computing, coupled with the fact that many companies have decided to maintain hybrid or full-time distributed workplaces, has increased demand for cloud security, migration and deployment, and serverless architecture skills in 2022. More and more graduate school programs are adding coursework related to cloud computing and distributed systems.
UX Design Skills
No matter how good a product is, people won’t use it if it’s tricky or unintuitive. Consequently, user experience design, or UX design, is an in-demand skill. UX designers ensure that websites, software, and products are easy to use because good online experiences inspire customer loyalty and drive sales. Successful UX designers have skills that go beyond web or app design. They know how to research trends, conduct research, and assess user behavior.
As more businesses recognize the importance of the customer experience, demand for UX design skills will grow. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts employment of digital designers and web developers (a category that includes UX designers) will increase by 13 percent between now and 2030. Technologists who refine their UX skills in graduate programs will see their investment rewarded.
Machine Learning Skills
Machine learning, a subfield of artificial intelligence that lets software become more accurate at making predictions without being explicitly programmed to do so, has emerged as a crucial computer science skill. A recent survey from SPI Global found that machine learning is currently the second most sought-after skill within the AI competency continuum.
Machine learning powers recommendation engines in retail, disease detection in healthcare, and automated financial trading and fraud detection in banking. It has applications across many other industries. Over the past two years, use of automation technologies has grown sharply in fields such as hospitality, agriculture, supply chain management, and retail. LinkedIn listed machine learning engineer as the fourth fastest-growing job title in its 2022 Jobs on the Rise report.
Tufts’ computer science master’s curriculum teaches the machine learning skills ambitious professionals need to compete in today’s market and evolve alongside AI. Core courses explore supervised and unsupervised learning, reinforcement learning, and knowledge extraction with applications in science, engineering, and medicine, as well as the data mining and data science principles that power ML.
Modern technology jobs are collaborative because tasks that could once be completed by one person with a specific set of skills now involve several professionals with diverse skillsets working together. Engineering teams often include front-end developers, mobile engineers, back-end engineers, platform engineers, and information security professionals. Technology professionals also work closely with colleagues from other departments, managers, and stakeholders. Employers increasingly look for job applicants with the soft skills necessary to work collaboratively on large teams. The professional computer association CompTIA lists communication as the most important soft skill for computer professionals, with organization, analytical abilities, creativity, and project management rounding out the top five most critical skills.
Tufts’ online MSCS employs a synchronous/asynchronous format that pairs the flexibility graduate-level students need with opportunities to hone valuable human+ skills. Synchronous classes help graduate students develop soft skills organically while working closely with peers and master’s program faculty members to learn the technical skills they’ll employ in real-world settings.
Tufts’ Online Computer Science Master’s Curriculum Prepares Students to Meet Changing Demand
Learning new skills is key to adapting and advancing in an uncertain world. The employment outlook for computer science jobs is strong—particularly in areas such as software development, information security, and research. However, keep in mind that BLS growth predictions assume technology professionals are reskilling and upskilling to meet changing demand. A growing technology skills gap could leave more than 4 million computer science and technology jobs unfilled by 2030, opening new doors for ambitious computer scientists willing to do what it takes to acquire the right skills and credentials.
There are several ways a master’s in computer science can help you excel. Earning an MS in Computer Science from Tufts University is one way to ensure your hard skills and soft skills not only stay up-to-date but also align with employer demand. It’s also a good idea if you’re concerned that the computer science employment market is becoming oversaturated. And finally, earning a computer science graduate degree at a respected institution such as Tufts University can help you transition into higher-paying roles in computer science.
Tufts’ interdisciplinary, part-time computer science program provides everything you need to succeed in a rapidly changing technology marketplace: in-demand skills, confidence, and valuable professional connections. Applying online is simple because meeting the prerequisites is straightforward. You’ll need an undergraduate degree and the desire to arm yourself with the top computer science skills of 2022. What you won’t need are a bachelor’s degree in computer science or GRE scores, provided you graduated from a U.S. college or university. If you have some programming experience and are an independent thinker eager to evolve in your career, the School of Engineering’s online MSCS will be a good fit.