The Top Future-Forward IT Skills for 2023 ... and Beyond!

What future-facing areas of IT should you be focused on?

Last week's column on the ChatGPT Gold Rush has already garnered a huge amount of uptake, so I found myself wondering, "What else is going on in IT that has strong future career possibilities?" As it turns out the answer is, "Quite a lot, but many elements are familiar and evergreen."

Most notably, of course, that includes cybersecurity, and related topics such as data protection, threat and vulnerability assessment, secure coding, security management, and so forth and so on.

Do You Want AI with That?

Indeed, combining AI-based insights and analyses with other future-friendly topic domains seems to be something of an unbeatable combination. So, if you have any interest in AI and machine learning, combining it with your other IT topical interests looks like a better-than-average approach to staying relevant and valuable.

It may not be good news for everyone, after all, but AI and automation will continue to combine to reduce the numbers of people needed to carry out mundane, repetitive tasks. As some jobs disappear, roles that combine knowledge of AI with extension of its capabilities seem bound to remain in place (certainly in the near term).

Other Areas Potentially Worthy of Note

What future-facing areas of IT should you be focused on?

I turned as an example to Startup.Info for a story entitled "Defining The Future: The Top Emerging Skills In The Tech Industry For 2024" (dated May 23). In addition to AI/ML and cybersecurity topics (both have been on the hot list for the last three and 10 years, that latter number being how long I’ve written for GoCertify now), they call out the following areas as worth diving into for the long-term career prospects they confer:

- Virtual and augmented reality
- Internet of Things (IoT) and connected devices
- Blockchain technology (and other crypto topics)
- Robotics and automation
- Cloud and Edge Computing
- Advanced analytics and big data
- Quantum computing and next-gen computing technologies

Out of these, I might have quibbles with virtual and augmented reality and blockchain. Most of the others have been on the radar as long as AI/ML has, or longer. I won’t argue that all these areas *aren't* worth investigating — there are good reasons to dig into any of them, and all of them have at least great future potential if not immense current value as well.

Certification is further along for the areas outside my "quibble zone" with the possible exception of quantum and next-gen computing. This is currently mostly an engineering and advanced software development area, with few opportunities for designers and implementers, and even fewer for maintainers, just because of how bleeding-edge this stuff remains right now.

What to Do About Future-Proofing Your Career?

What future-facing areas of IT should you be focused on?

Tackle one of these areas as your time and energy levels allow. Start with an introductory course from one of the biggies (e.g., edX, Coursera, LinkedIn, Udemy, PluralSight, and so forth) and see whether you like it and want to learn more. Then you can start looking for more serious intermediate-level offerings, possibly with certificates of competency or completion.

(You will encounter the occasional, if rare, certification in the listed areas that are not cloud, analytics, and big data, where certification is thriving).

These are all things worth learning about. Ultimately they may be things you'd like to work with and add to your skills and knowledge inventory. Exploration is fun, but keep an eye on the clock and a sense of value-add versus time, money, and effort expended to balance that fun against more tangible future rewards.

While the future beckons and gleams with possibility, we have to presume that even in the future some bills will still need to be paid. Have fun!

Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran who's worked as a software developer, technical marketer, consultant, author, and researcher. Author of many books and articles, Ed also writes on certification topics for Tech Target, ComputerWorld and Win10.Guru. Check out his website at, where he also blogs daily on Windows 10 and 11 topics.