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Top 20 in demand skills on Upwork Q1 2017

Community Manager
Lena E Community Manager Member Since: Apr 7, 2015
1 of 5

Upwork recently released their study on the 20 fastest-growing freelance skills in Q1 2017. All of the skills listed below experienced more than 140 percent year-over-year growth. Asana work tracking grew more quickly than any other skill in Q1 — crowning itself the first non-tech skill to ever top the list — though tech skills still make up 60 percent of the list.




Key Takeaways


  • With Artificial intelligence (AI) at the forefront of the conversation around what the future of work holds, it’s no surprise it is the fastest-growing tech skill and the second fastest-growing skill overall. As AI continues to shape our world and influence nearly every major industry and country, companies are thinking about how to incorporate it into their business strategies, and professionals are developing skills to capitalize upon this accelerating tech trend. While some speculate that AI may be taking jobs away, others argue it’s creating opportunity, which is evidenced by demand for freelancers with this skill. 
  • There is a surge in demand for skills that facilitate rapid innovation in the workplace. Rapid prototyping enables businesses to think up an idea and have a prototype in-hand that same day with advances like 3D printing; while A/B testing has become a fundamental methodology for performance optimization with Optimizely as the platform of choice.
  • Efficiency tools and skills are experiencing high-growth as organizations adopt more agile approaches to work. Asana’s work tracking software empowers teams to track and manage projects with clarity and accountability, and developers familiar with JIRA, Atlassian’s issue and project tracking software, are also in high-demand as the ability to quickly identify and resolve bugs and other issues is crucial in remaining innovative. Professionals continue to rely on various automation tools and techniques as well, leveraging Marketo marketing automation to engage the right customers at scale and machine learning to better predict, model and analyze data so they can focus more on strategic projects.
  • With uncertainty around the future of immigration policy, more people are relying on immigration law specialists for counsel on how to navigate rapidly evolving policy changes and nuanced implications for their workforce. This is part of a surge in demand for lawyers online in general; on Upwork, the legal category saw 59% growth in Q1 compared to the same time period last year.
  • A recent report found the majority of IT professionals said their entity was affected by a cybersecurity attack in 2016. With hackers posing serious threats, businesses are investing in safeguarding their systems by enlisting penetration testing experts who can test applications and assess vulnerabilities. Application security is also experiencing high-growth as protection for applications, data, network and devices becomes a priority for businesses in the era of cloud computing, the Internet of things (IoT) and significantly more reliance on AI and machine learning. Investing in these techniques increases immunity to common attacks such as SQL injection, DDos or cross-site scripting.
  • The majority of tax season fell in Q1, and demand for freelance accountants (CPAs) grew significantly as a result. This is not surprising, given this survey showing that more than one-third (37%) of Americans prefer to hire a tax preparer to file their returns rather than prepare them themselves.
Active Member
Prince Pal S Member Since: Jul 14, 2016
2 of 5

Thanks for these skill insights. Rapid prototyping is an area of my interest. 

Active Member
Shovon K Member Since: Jun 10, 2017
3 of 5

Thanks for this article 

Active Member
Gabriella V Member Since: Jul 6, 2015
4 of 5

Hi Lena,

Thank you for the information.

Is there a link, where we can read the whole study that was published?

Community Manager
Lena E Community Manager Member Since: Apr 7, 2015
5 of 5

Hi Gabriella,


You can find more information on our Press page here.