The 10 most promising jobs of 2018—and the skills students need to get them

Kristin Tyndall, editorKristin Tyndall, Senior Editor

Many job rankings focus exclusively on salary, but there's a lot more to a job than salary.

The data scientists at LinkedIn recently built a ranking of jobs based on a wider range of factors that could make them desirable, including, yes, salary, but also advancement opportunities, job openings, growth in job openings, and regional demand. Researchers used LinkedIn's database of profile information to supply data for the analysis.

Based on LinkedIn's analysis, the top 10 most promising jobs of 2018 are:

  1. Engagement lead
  2. Software engineering manager
  3. Customer success manager
  4. Solutions architect
  5. Sales director
  6. Engineering manager
  7. Program manager
  8. Product manager
  9. Data scientist
  10. Technical program manager

At a glance, this can look like yet another long list of technical jobs with vague titles. If asked to guess at what the most important skills are for these jobs, I bet a lot of students would think of programming.

However, as it turns out, the best way for students to prepare for a wide range of these jobs would be to work on their soft skills.

9 ways to build soft skills

Along with their ranking of promising jobs, LinkedIn also identified five skills associated with each role. I crunched the numbers to determine which of these skills appeared most frequently on the list.

Turns out, it's the soft skills that come up most often:

  • Management (listed for 9 of the top 10 jobs)
  • Project management (6)
  • Leadership (4)

While each of these jobs also require some specific technical skills, those skills were generally isolated to a single job and not easily transferrable to other positions on the list.

We know that today's students are graduating into a volatile job market where they'll need to change jobs up to 15 times over the course of their lives. And that's on top of the looming automation revolution, which is predicted to force up to 70 million U.S. workers to change jobs or industries within the next 13 years.

The analysis above suggests that the best way for students to become as flexible as they'll need to be is to develop a strong foundation of soft skills.

Technical skills come and go—and learning a new one is as simple as signing up for the next boot camp. But soft skills like management take years to master. Building them up sooner rather than later can help graduates prepare for the shocks they'll inevitably face over the course of their careers (Young, EdSurge, 7/20/17; Lewis, LinkedIn blog, 1/11).

The 24 most in-demand skills of 2018, according to LinkedIn

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