The top skills for freelancers

It’s time to brush off your Hadoop skills and revisit your science textbooks

Jane Elizabeth
© Shutterstock / DRogatnev

Upwork’s latest skills index has a bunch of surprises for the hungry freelance market. It’s time to brush off your Hadoop skills and revisit your science textbooks. We take a look at what skills you should highlight on your resume, from machine learning skills to data security certifications.

Freelancers need to keep their skills sharp and their resumes current. Upwork keeps track of the latest trends in freelance hiring, making it easier for us to see what companies are looking for in new employees.

Big changes were happening on the Q4 report. Hadoop swooped out from nowhere, proving that fastest-growing really is a dynamic metric to measure. Let’s take a look at the highlights!

Top 10 fastest-growing skills of Q4 2018

  1. Hadoop
  2. Dropbox API
  3. Genetic algorithms
  4. Microbiology
  5. Computational linguistics
  6. Certified Information Systems Security Professional
  7. Digital signal processing
  8. Intercom
  9. Interactive advertising
  10. Invision

See the full list of the top 20 fastest-growing skills here.


Time to bust out your old biology textbooks!  Source: Upwork.

Hadoop in the lead, microbiology growing strong

Somewhat surprisingly, Hadoop has joined the list at #1. Hadoop is the open source foundation for many modern big data applications. While it has declined in use as other technologies have come into play, Hadoop still packs a punch. In the last quarter, a number of enterprises have publicly invested in Hadoop, including Databrick and Confluent.

Some reports show the global Hadoop market growing roughly 29% a year in the next 5 years. So, as businesses invest into big data technologies, they’ll need to leverage Hadoop experts who are up to date with all of the latest Hadoop advances.

Apache Hadoop 3.2 arrived last month, making the platform more diverse with an increased investment into cloud connector enhancements. Additionally, it opened up the opportunity for more deep learning use-cases.

SEE ALSO: Apache Hadoop 3.2 is here!

Another surprise on this list is the focus on biology! Clearly, having well-rounded developers is important for employers. Both genetic algorithms and microbiology ranked quite high in Q4’s list, possibly due to increased interest about CRISPR. While we here at JAXenter maintain an Ian Malcolm-ist approach towards genetic manipulation, it’s clear that companies are interested in the potential involved in this radical new tech.

Data security also ranked quite high, likely due to the continuing deluge of publicized security breaches. Given that GDPR heavily penalizes companies for not paying enough attention to their cybersecurity, it’s a good idea for freelancers to highlight any security certifications or experience on their CVs.

Additionally, machine learning made a showing, if obliquely. Skills in computational linguistics are often involved in making machines smarter. Here’s a chance for you to mention that one linguistics course you took in college!

When looking at the top 20, a few other skills jump out: employers are looking for freelancers with skills in things like Kubernetes, OAuth, and JavaScript frameworks like Vue and React. While it’s disappointing these skills didn’t rank higher on this list, it’s important to remember that fastest-growing does not mean most popular. Finally, anyone with mobile web app experience should definitely make that clear, as companies are also looking for skills in app store optimization and app usability analysis.

SEE ALSO: Public cloud becomes No.1 priority for companies, Vue.js gains ground & blockchain goes MIA

As always, these skills are just a fraction of what employers are looking for. While freelancers shouldn’t always chase the newest tech, they should also keep an eye on the long term trends. The field is constantly evolving and developing; freelancers need to keep up.

Jane Elizabeth
Jane Elizabeth is an assistant editor for

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