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5 Technical Skills That Get Students Hired After Graduation

computer science
career planning
majors
By Deshan Mendis
Published on October 26, 2021

Having in-demand technical skills can lead to specialized careers, both in the US and back home. International students, discover which technical skills employers are looking for and how those skills can benefit you!

A male and a female international student sit in front of laptop computers at a long table in a US university classroom

The job market is changing, with technology-driven careers in high demand among US employers. The US anticipates 12.4 million technology roles in the workforce, with 245,500 new tech jobs expected by the end of 2021. No matter which professional field you choose, having a specific technical skill set can increase your chances of success — and knowing exactly which technical skills are in demand can be useful when choosing a career path. By learning multiple technical skills, you can qualify for a variety of career opportunities and become a versatile candidate.

In this guide, you will learn about five in-demand technical skills that can lead to rewarding careers around the globe. We’ll also go over several universities offering competitive science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs that set students up for success. 

What Are Technical Skills? 

Technical skills are specific, specialized skills needed to perform a particular role. While they are often related to engineering, computer hardware or software, math, or science, the exact technical skills you need may depend on the career you want to pursue. 

There are many types of technical skills, including knowledge of programming languages, design programs, and mechanical equipment or tools. While each can be highly valuable, several skills in particular stand out for their related career opportunities in the current marketplace. 

5 Technical Skills that Employers Want

If you want to become a STEM major, certain technical skills may offer more professional opportunities than others. Here are five in-demand technical skills and their potential corresponding roles and starting salaries in the US, China, and India: 

1 - Cybersecurity

Major/Degree

Cybersecurity engineering or computer engineering

Role

Cybersecurity analyst

Starting Salary in the US

$79,985

Starting Salary in China

¥172,319

Starting Salary in India

₹725,936

2 - Software engineering

Major/Degree

Computer science

Role

Software engineer

Starting Salary in the US

$78,521

Starting Salary in China

¥225,831

Starting Salary in India

₹911,203

3 - Industrial design/ engineering

Major/Degree

Industrial design or graphic design

Role

Industrial designer

Starting Salary in the US

$55,810

Starting Salary in China

¥78,861

Starting Salary in India

₹291,714

4 - Data science

Major/Degree

Data science

Role

Data scientist

Starting Salary in the US

$81,743

Starting Salary in China

¥172,249

Starting Salary in India

₹954,796

5 - Game development

Major/Degree

Games or game design

Role

Game developer

Starting Salary in the US

$67,439

Starting Salary in China

¥186,985

Starting Salary in India

₹787,719

*The above salaries use data from SalaryExpert.

Technical skills can be honed in different ways via self-directed study, hands-on experience, and even pursuing a degree. Read on to find out which degree programs can prepare you with the necessary technical skills for success in the workplace.

Which US University Degree Programs Develop Strong Technical Skills?

By majoring in a degree program with a focus on technical skills, you can learn specific and relevant industry-related skills that help you grow as a professional in your chosen field. 

Shorelight universities offer programs specifically designed for international students and give you the opportunity to learn from industry experts. These programs align with the technical skills that top employers demand.

Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity — Florida International University

Cybersecurity involves preventing and defending against different types of malicious attacks on computers, servers, networks, or any other electronic device capable of being breached. Many of these malicious attacks threaten to damage or steal data and/or software, disrupt hardware, and are constantly evolving, requiring cybersecurity experts to stay one step ahead. 

Florida International University offers a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity through the Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Sciences. Students dive deep into the functions of computer systems, networks, and code while engaging in modern information security classes such as enterprise cybersecurity and mobile security. 

Cybersecurity is one of 15 top-paying IT certifications, and security professionals are in high demand, with the talent gap expected to reach 3.5 million unfilled jobs by 2022, more than tripling from 2017. With damage from cybercrimes anticipated to cost $6 trillion annually worldwide, the number of information security analyst roles are expected to increase by 31% from 2019 to 2029.

When data breaches occur, they can be large, newsworthy, and expensive to recover. Unfortunately for those companies, there is currently a shortage of network security professionals. For you, this means there is a market gap you can fill.

Career options: cybersecurity analyst, cybersecurity specialist, cybersecurity consultant

Potential employers: Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Spotify

Master of Science in Data Science — University of the Pacific

Data scientist careers revolve around transforming raw data into interpretable information using data software and programming. The STEM-designated MS in Data Science program at the University of the Pacific uses both in-person and online classes, with a focus on personalized education and small class sizes. Students can look forward to evaluating data and making predictions, applying analytic programming, data mining, designing practical data solutions, and more throughout the program.

Data scientists evaluate, observe, and report their findings — and provide advice on problem-solving analytical techniques. Top industries for data science opportunities include science, finance, and insurance. A bachelor’s degree is necessary to enter this field, but a graduate degree may be preferable to access a wider range of roles.

Career options: data scientist, machine learning engineer, applications architect

Potential employers: Adobe, Amazon, Netflix, NVIDIA, OpenAI 

Bachelor of Science in Games — University of Utah

The BS in Games (BSG) at the University of Utah is for students who aspire to hold careers within the professional games industry or a related field, such as simulation, entertainment, education, or visualization. It equips graduates for an increasingly complex industry by teaching modern development tools to create games centered around entertainment, health, and/or societal topics.

As video games require an extensive process of design and development, a degree in game development helps you explore both the creative and technical aspects of creating a game. This helps you pursue a variety of gaming careers that require both artistic and development skills. 

Career options: level designer, UI/UX developer, narrative writer

Potential employers: Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Mojang, Nintendo, Rockstar Games

Bachelor of Industrial Design — Auburn University

Industrial design focuses on the massive numbers of products used in everyday life. Auburn University offers a Bachelor of Industrial Design, Master of Industrial Design, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in graphic design. With a minor in Industrial and Graphic Design Processes, students can learn both disciplines in the same program and explore how to creatively solve problems, explore new ways of visual communication, and more. 

For students with no design background, the BS in Industrial Design Studies covers fundamental technical skills. The program is structured around the area of your interest and includes core skills such as presentation rendering, industrial design methods, anthropometry, and materials and technology.

Industrial designers need to be familiar with manufacturing techniques and consider technical performance, environmental concerns, human comfort and convenience, utility, and aesthetics. Industrial design skills are helpful for careers as architects, art directors, desktop publishers, fashion designers, graphic designers, software developers, and industrial engineers.

Career options: industrial designer, package designer, entertainment set designer

Potential employers: Bresslergroup, Designworks, IDEO, Karten Design, Whipsaw

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with Software Engineering — University of Illinois Chicago

Software engineering is a branch of computer science that focuses on developing software using engineering principles. Through its College of Engineering, the University of Illinois Chicago offers a BS in Computer Science with a software engineering concentration. Students develop a variety of software engineering technical skills through classes such as systems programming, operating system design and implementation, data structures, program design, and much more. 

If you are interested in pursuing a career in software engineering, jobs for software engineers include IT consultants, game developers, multimedia programmers, and web developers.

Career options: applications developer, web designer, systems analyst

Potential employers: IBM, Intel, Salesforce, Tesla, Uber

The technical skills you develop from a degree program at a US university or college give you the knowledge, skills, and experiences to succeed in the US or anywhere in the world. Additionally, many of your acquired technical skills will qualify you for other roles if you want to consider a career change in your future. 

There are numerous opportunities to advance your skills, whether you are new to STEM subjects or already have some experience and now want to specialize in a specific area. With the support of a Shorelight advisor, you can find the ideal program and university that will help you develop key technical skills.

Speak to a Shorelight advisor today and learn about your options for technical skill degrees >