The US demand for software engineers who program computers to understand human speech has soared according to data from the last quarter compiled by Upwork, a website that matches freelancers with potential employers. The skillset, called natural language processing, is what powers voice-activated virtual assistants like Amazon’s Echo device and Apple’s Siri.
“Voice surged to the scene in 2016,” said Rich Pearson, a senior vice president of marketing at Upwork Global Inc. “I don’t think any of us expected Echo to be as popular as it is.”
Freelancers with good natural language processing skills earned an average hourly rate of $123 per hour, and the total amount that they billed soared by 2300 percent last quarter from a year earlier. However, only approx. 400 freelancers currently list this skill on their Upwork profile, and the fourth quarter was the first time that there was a significant group of freelancers with this talent.
Coming in as the second top-wanted skill was ‘Swift’, a programming language used to build apps for Apple Inc. devices, and number 3 was Tableau, a system to create data visualizations offered by Tableau Software Inc. Non-technical skills made the list too – included Instagram marketing – great news for those pursuing a career in the world of digital marketing.
The data also showed how the need for some skills can become nearly obsolete. The demand for freelancers who know how to analyse Twitter data plunged 51 percent last quarter from a year earlier, reflecting the social media platform’s struggle to grow its user base.
Here are the 20 fastest-growing skills online:
- Natural Language Processing
- Amazon Marketplace Web Services
- Instagram Marketing
- MySQL programming
- Social Media Management
- Angular JS
- Business Consulting
- Machine Learning
- Brand Strategy
- 3D rendering
- Information security
- R Development
- js development
- User experience design
- Zendesk customer support
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