The Most Valuable Career Skills for 2021

The job market is always evolving. As some occupations lose popularity, others gain an edge. Regardless of the field you’re in, having certain career skills can make a difference in your success. Knowing which qualities are most in-demand can be helpful as you carve out your career path. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Healthcare is a field offering tremendous opportunities in terms of job growth.
  • Sustainable energy and statistics are also fields where jobs are expected to increase through 2029.
  • Tech skills such as computer programming and network engineering remain a top sought-after skill by companies.
  • Soft skills are also important and highly sought after by employers.

Job and Skills Trends

By 2029, the fastest-growing occupation is expected to be wind turbine service technician. The third-fastest growing occupation is solar voltaic installer.

In addition to clean energy-related jobs, healthcare is an area of rapid occupational growth. Six out of 10 of the fastest-growing occupations are healthcare-related. They are nurse practitioners, occupational therapy assistants, home health and personal care aides, physical therapy assistants, medical and health service managers, and physicians assistants.

Statisticians and information security analysts are also careers listed on the top 10 fastest-growing occupations list, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projections.

Many of the highest-paying jobs are positions that require a significant amount of education, professional training, and advanced skills.

So, which career skills will improve your chances of success in these fields? 

Tech Skills Are Highly Valued Across Multiple Industries

Tech skills are hot commodities among employees, and their application isn’t limited to the tech industry. Tech-savvy workers are highly suited to most industries including healthcare and finance. Possessing a technical skillset can lead to a higher-paying position.

Jennifer Liu listed 10 most popular tech skills of 2020 for CNBC. The top four prized tech skills included: 

1. Python: A programming language used in software development, infrastructure management, and data analysis.

2. React (web): A JavaScript library for building user interfaces.

3. Angular: A JavaScript-based open-source front-end web framework.

4. Machine learning: The scientific study of algorithms and statistical models.

According to CRN, a media site for technology and IT news, the average annual pay in the U.S. technology industry reached $94,000 in 2019, which was a year-over-year increase of just 1.3%. However, CRN reported that people with technical skills in Apache, AWS, Cloudera, Chef, SAP HANA, and Platform-as-a-Service saw double-digit percent salary increases.

While these tech skills are relevant to roles like tech management, systems architects, and security engineers, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. For example, data analytics is an increasingly significant component of healthcare as more healthcare providers move to digital record keeping. Software programmers and developers are also needed to create the software programs used to manage patient data and healthcare records. 

Tech is also reshaping the finance industry, with demand rising for project managers, software operations specialists, application developers, business intelligence specialists, and statisticians. Data analysis and software skills are also essential in fields that don’t fit the tech mold, such as human resources.

Soft Skills Still Carry Weight With Employers

While technical skills are important, employers don’t have tunnel vision when considering which workers to hire. Soft skills, which are often influenced more by personality than education or training, are still a priority in the workforce.

In a 2020 LinkedIn survey, soft skills were high on the list of job requirements for prospective hires. Skills include:

  • Creativity
  • Persuasion
  • Collaboration
  • Adaptability
  • Emotional intelligence

According to, oral, and written communication skills are the most important soft skills to possess. Other soft skills that employers look for are the following:

  • Leadership
  • Attention to detail
  • Problem-solving

The industries likely to place the highest value on soft skills include hospitality, customer service, professional training and coaching, retail, and sports. Unfortunately, jobs in this industry have been greatly affected by the COVID-19 epidemic.

The Bottom Line

Developing both your hard and soft skills will boost your marketability to potential employers. It’s almost a certainty that tech skills will continue to be highly sought after, but other skills like being able to communicate effectively, being mindful of details, and staying organized aren’t likely to go out of style any time soon. The key to getting ahead is finding the right balance and targeting the skills that are most valued in your chosen field.