The hottest skills on the market

Tensorflow reigns supreme: Fastest-growing freelance skills favors machine learning

Sarah Schlothauer
© Shutterstock / Nadia Snopek

It’s time to take a look at the hot list for the first quarter of 2018. Blockchain and Tensorflow lead the way, but there are some surprises further down the list. Who’s in, who’s out, and what should freelancers focus their energies on?

On May 1, 2018 Upwork released their list of the top 20 fastest growing skills for freelancers for the first quarter of 2018. Each quarter, we take a look at the data and search for trends, changes, and what they may mean for developers. Who are the trailblazing newcomers? And who are the old solid reliable standards? Here are the most in-demand skills in the U.S. freelance job market:

Top 10 fastest-growing skills, Q1 2018

  1. Blockchain
  2. Tensorflow
  3. Amazon DynamoDB
  4. Voice over
  5. Subtitling
  6. Art direction
  7. Content strategy
  8. Computer vision
  9. Microsoft Power BI
  10. Augmented Reality

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


Source: Upwork Skills Index Q1 2018


It comes as no surprise that blockchain is ranked as the hottest freelancer technology. According to Upwork, it has grown 2,000% for three successful quarters. The constant hype around blockchain has secured it as the fastest growing sought-after skill.

However, besides the number one slot, the results have some interesting takeaways. The coveted number two spot is reserved for the machine learning framework Tensorflow. Tensorflow ranks ahead of the broader topic machine learning (just barely showing its face in the #19 spot), proving itself as the machine learning MVP. Developed by the Google Brain Team, well-known companies such as airbnb, nvidia, Snapchat, and ebay all use the open-source technology. For the world of business developments, there is a lot of fear around machines automating human tasks and phasing out entire skill sets from the workforce. This may contribute to the rise in popularity among skills such as machine learning in order to stay relevant in an ever-changing market. Or, perhaps the interest in AI and machine learning is an unstoppable phenomenon. Whatever the reason for its chart dominance, Tensorflow is the new king.

SEE ALSO: TensorFlow + Java: Machine Learning for the enterprise sector

Tensorflow isn’t the only Google creation to make the list. Go also appears, although it is much lower than its appearance in Q3 2017. Go dropped from #5 to #14, missing the top 10 spot. However, this does not mean that Go is going anywhere. Shoshana Deutschkron gave her theory for the popularity of Go when we interviewed her about the trending list back in February: “Programmers are recognizing that the more traditional programming languages developed in the 1990’s are becoming outdated. Go, created in 2009, is seen as simple and increasingly being used to create smart contracts in building blockchain, which may have played a role in its recent demand surge.” Will next quarter see a rise in popularity of Go gurus? 

React native scored highly at spot #12. It slipped from its number 3 spot from last quarter, but still remains relevant in the freelancers toolkit. Tanya Kumari discussed the pros and cons of React native and what makes the framework so popular with mobile app developers. Because of its cross-platform capabilities, React native removes the headache for Android, iOS, and Windows developers. Despite its youth, its relevance is a sure bet that React Native will be around for a long while.

Scala development placed at #16, whereas last quarter it was nowhere to be seen on the list. Interestingly, Scala has been making some ground in the popularity race in the TIOBE Index for May 2018. Scala was specifically designed to be concise and whether or not you prefer it to Java, it certainly is a programming language to keep an eye on. Let’s see if Scala places again next quarter and keep watching the rise and fall of programming language popularity.

SEE ALSO: Scala cracks the top 20 in major TIOBE reshuffle

This quarter’s list features a lot of young technology. It is a bold truth for not only freelancers that if you aren’t keeping up with what’s trending, you can fall behind. However, this list is a positive sign that technology is constantly growing and that new developments are always just around the bend. Machine learning used to be a thing of science fiction novels, but now it is a commonly sought-after skill in the workforce.

Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer

All Posts by Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer is the editor for She received her Bachelor's degree from Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey. She currently lives in Frankfurt, Germany with her husband and cat where she enjoys reading, writing, and medieval reenactment. She is also the editor for Conditio Humana, an online magazine about ethics, AI, and technology.

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3 years ago

You can use this trick for some way in the freelancing world.