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Top 5 Tech Careers Of The Future

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, data analytics and cloud computing had been growing rapidly over the years (even decades). But in the short space of just seven months they have become essential in today’s society amid the current global health crisis.

With such a driving force behind these technological adaptions, demand has grown exponentially for both jobs and individuals with the skills and knowledge which meet the needs of digitally transformed industries and sectors.

In fact, in 2018 it was reported that the demand for AI skills had more than doubled since 2015, with the number of job postings up by 119 percent, according to online jobs portal Indeed.

Fortunately, the University of the Witwatersrand’s School of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics is getting students ‘future ready’ with its range of undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs that are designed to support students develop the skills, knowledge and personality needed to thrive in this new era of technology.

The university’s newly-appointed Vice-Chancellor Designate Zeblon Vilakazi has recently spoken about his dreams of transforming Wits University into an innovation hotbed and deliver the same world-changing technologies as MIT in the US.

“We need to continue to develop the originators, innovators and critical thinkers who can help us solve the problems of the 21st century,” he said.

So, if you want to pursue a career in artificial intelligence, data science or software development, what kind of jobs should you look for? What skills do you need to get hired? What type of salary can you expect? Let’s take a look at some of the top careers that are redefining the technology industry.

Machine learning engineer

This specific branch of artificial intelligence is ideal for those who have a passion for computer science and desire a career in a fast-moving and exciting industry.

Machine learning engineers use big data to create complex algorithms to ultimately program a machine (such as a self-driving car or digital voice assistant) in order to perform and carry out tasks like a human. Economic forecasting, image recognition and natural language processing are implemented so that the machine can learn and improve without human interference.

What degree do you need? A knowledgeable background in artificial intelligence and/or computer science is a must, with a master’s degree also essential. At Wits University, both the MSc in Artificial Intelligence and MSc in Computational and Applied Mathematics offer pioneering curriculums where students develop an in-depth understanding of data visualization, natural language technology, and computational intelligence in order to analyze problems and create meaningful solutions.

UX designer

UX (User eXperience) designers are concerned with the ‘behind-the-scenes’ design of ensuring software, websites, or apps meet the consumers’ habits, motivations, behaviors and needs. With more and more businesses turning to digital platforms to promote and sell their products or services, it’s never been so important to ensure the user journey and experience is the best it can be.

What degree do you need? A relevant undergraduate degree such as computer science is needed, while a postgraduate degree is desirable also. Professional experience is a must too.

Robotics engineer

As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, robotics engineers are having to constantly analyze, reevaluate, configure, test and maintain the prototypes, robotic components, integrated softwares and machines they create for the manufacturing, mining and automotive service industries, among others. It is a highly technical job which requires patience and rational thinking.

Over the next few years, it’s likely that we’ll see a number of new and innovative ways in which modern technologies help society and business function – particularly in healthcare.

What degree do you need? A master’s in robotics or computer science will set you up with the skills, knowledge and experience needed to break into the field of robotics engineering.

Data scientist

Dubbed the ‘sexiest job of the 21st century’, data science jobs aren’t new and emerging like other tech jobs such as cloud computing engineers (more on them later), or machine learning engineers, but they’re still the hidden gem within any company and will continue to be.

As businesses and organizations collect and use more data every day, the demand for skilled experts has skyrocketed. With opportunities to work in practically every sector and industry, from IT to entertainment, manufacturing to healthcare, it’s the responsibility of data scientists to compile, process, analyze and present data for an organization in order for it to make more informed decisions.

For example, in June this year, six undergraduate students from the School of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics (CSAM) and the School of Electrical and Information Engineering (EIE) at Wits University took part in a virtual event for the ISC Student Cluster Competition alongside 82 other students from around the world.

They were tasked with testing and optimizing several applications currently used by scientists and researchers in the analysis of COVID-19 data in real time and the effects of global warming around the world. Students were also given two additional advanced coding challenges by the judges to assess whether they could successfully adapt to the fast-changing world of artificial intelligence.

Wits University took second place.

What degree do you need? To stand out in the field of data science, a solid understanding of data science and analytics is vital. A relevant postgraduate degree in computational and applied mathematicsdata science, or e-science from Wits University develops students’ data-driven knowledge and technical skillsets.

Cloud engineer

Over the last few months, cloud computing has become a must-have for those working remotely. At the same time, organizations have been frantically hiring those with the skills and knowledge who can migrate processes, implement the necessary infrastructures and perform cloud-related tasks.

Cloud engineers are often titled under different roles, including solutions architects, cloud developers and sysops engineers. In some instances, the roles and responsibilities will vary, but the overall responsibility of a cloud engineer is to plan, monitor and manage an organization’s cloud system, such as Google Cloud, Microsoft 365, and Slack, to name but a few.

What degree do you need? As with many of today’s tech careers, a postgraduate degree is almost always required along with relevant professional experience. Students who study the MSc in Computer Science at Wits University can study a range of electives including (but not limited to), high performance computing and scientific data management, robotics, adaptive computation and machine learning, multi-agent systems, and human computer interaction.