The fastest growing job requirement for freelancers barely existed a year ago

Future of Work
Future of Work

Virtual reality, which has moved from science fiction to product with breathtaking speed, is now among the most sought-after abilities among freelancers

It tops other tech skills on a list of the fastest growing skills in the last year compiled by Upwork, a job site that matches freelancers with employers.

Rank Skill
1 Virtual reality
2 Natural language processing
3 Econometrics
4 Learning Management System (LMS)
5 Neural networks
6 Penetration testing
7 SEO auditing
8 Image processing
9 Asana work tracking
10 Facebook API development
11 Swift development
12 Marketing analytics
13 Geographic Information System (GIS)
14 Docker development
15 Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
16 Machine learning
17 AngularJS development
18 Video advertising
19 Shopify development
20 Pardot marketing

The list is based on the growth of freelancer billings through the Upwork site, and compares the second quarter of this year with the same period in 2016.

The top 10 skills on its list grew three-fold or more over last year, and some have grown even more explosively. Last year, virtual reality development was basically non-existent as a skill, with just 106 Upwork freelancers listing it, compared to 2,500 now, according to Bloomberg. Virtual reality sets are coming down in price, and an increasingly wide swath of producers are making use of the technology, driving the need for freelancers.

The list is almost entirely dominated by technical skills. They include those related to artificial intelligence—such as machine learning, image processing, and natural language learning—and specific software products, like Adobe Photoshop, Asana, Shopify, and Pardot.

There is one non-tech skill high on the list: econometrics, a branch of economics that uses mathematical models and statistics. As companies are awash in data, there’s high demand for experts to help them make sense of it.

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