Most in Demand Jobs in Northern Ireland

The job market can be unpredictable. With many factors impacting the availability of jobs it can prove to be stressful when trying to choose a secure field that you can feel certain is worth your investment. Graduate level education can be time consuming and expensive, hence why more and more school leavers are angling their careers in the direction of what is currently in demand, to make sure it is worth their time and effort. 

The good news is that the Northern Irish job market has shown unprecedented growth over the past couple of years, with the NI economy ‘bouncing back’ at a rate of 1.3% higher than the rest of the UK recovering to its pre-pandemic levels of output in the second quarter of 2021.  Labour data also suggests that the number of people on company payrolls in Northern Ireland is at its highest – a number that has been higher than prior to the coronavirus pandemic for almost five months. 

Industry wise, there are still certain fields that are significantly outperforming others in terms of demand and pay. Sectors such as hospitality and retail for example, have seen a significant fall in employees over the past two years as people seeked out more secure, reliable and better paid employment particularly within areas that offered working from home opportunities. 

If you are looking for a career change but not sure what industry to go for, or if you are only just planning your educational path to reach the career of your dreams, the industries outlined below are safe bets. Outlined as ‘Skills in Demand’ by nidirect, these fields will continue to grow at a rapid rate over the next couple of years, whilst offering competitive salaries to attract new talent.


Software Development / Programming

Northern Ireland has one of the most rapidly growing I.T sectors in the UK. Belfast Tech jobs represent almost 23% of all available job opportunities, with demand for workers skilled in I.T having grown by almost 80% since last year alone. With fantastic upskilling opportunities available within the I.T field, it is becoming easier and easier to become certified and start on your journey of becoming an expert. 

If you are looking for a career that pays well and gives plenty of job security, the software development field is for you. Software Developer salaries are some of the highest on the job market, and workplaces normally offer some pretty good perks too, like flexible working, bonus schemes, and great working conditions. This field can offer a lot of variety, with areas you can expand into if you are wanting to mix up your day to day. For example, someone who specialises in app development can move on to do website development, database development, or cyber security. 

Some of the most in demand software development skills within the Northern Ireland market currently include:

  • Web Development 
  • Front End Development
  • Network Engineer 

Creative and Digital Media 

The need for skills within creative and digital media is on the rise alongside I.T as the demand for technical jobs spikes, it is accompanied by further requirement for creative skills which compliment the core group of skills that drive further developments in technology and innovation. Fields such as gaming, design, and digital entertainment are rapidly growing and constantly looking for new talent. 

Every well designed I.T product needs to be visually attractive, engaging and enticing to really give it that extra edge. At the end of the day, we tend to notice what’s right in front of us first, followed by its functionality. This is why creativity is still an important skill that is commonly sought out amongst applicants. 

Digital media pulls in skills from technology, media and marketing, advertising and PR, offering well rounded roles that appeal to applicants thanks to their varied mix of day-to-day tasks which can be a mix of computer based and people focused projects. 

Some of the most in demand creative and digital media skills within the Northern Ireland market currently include:

  • User Experience Design 
  • Digital Marketing
  • Mobile Technologies
  • Video and content creation skills 


Cyber Security 

With digital technologies on the rise, the need for services and protocols that help us remain safe online is increasing. As common tech knowledge becomes more widely accessible, there are many security threats companies can experience due to hacking and theft of data. Laws such as the UK GDPR and Data Protection Act work by clearly outlining how businesses have to handle and store data to ensure safety of the public. Many companies consider cyber security to be a top priority, especially those that hold personal customer information and rightly so, as data shows that cyber attacks and hacking attempts are on the rise.

Cyber Security skills continue to rise in demand as companies seek out specialists to help them keep their data safe. In Northern Ireland, it is one of the fastest growing I.T fields, offering brilliant salaries with some entry level positions offering £30,000 or more. 

Some of the most in demand cyber security roles include:

  • Information Security Analyst.
  • Cyber Security Engineer.
  • Information Security Consultant.
  • Cyber Intelligence Analyst.
  • Security Software Developer.


Virtual Reality 

Virtual Reality is becoming more mainstream and getting incorporated into our everyday lives faster than many of us can keep up. With VR filters being a core part of many social media platforms nowadays, such as snapchat and tiktok, the days of it being mostly heard of in movies and sci-fi media are long gone. 

The current coronavirus situation has further brought virtual reality to the forefront through expansion of services that replicate face-to-face communication virtually. We can see this through the incorporation of digital products such as Facebook’s metaverse, which aims to create a virtual reality hub where people can spend time, communicate and work together in a virtual reality setting. 

Virtual reality is no longer utilised for gaming and entertainment only, as much as it is still revolutionising these fields as VR headsets become more common in UK homes. It is currently being trialled in healthcare, business and education and the need for VR related I.T skills is on the rise as this technology becomes incorporated into our everyday lives. 

Some of the most in demand virtual reality roles include:

  • VR Engineer 
  • UI Designer 
  • 3D Artist 
  • Machine Learning Engineer