Top 11 tech jobs IT recruiters find hardest to fill
For Employers

February 15, 2024

Top 11 tech jobs IT recruiters find hardest to fill

It’s an interesting time for the tech jobs market out there. On the one hand, the CompTIA report states that the tech unemployment rate is at 1.8%. At the same time, the tech workforce is hearing a constant drumbeat of job losses and hiring freeze. But not all roles have been affected equally by the recent job cuts.

Full-stack, cybersecurity and DevOps continue to be the most in-demand roles, and the hardest roles to hire for. Technologies like AI, ML, Cloud, and data science, still dominating the job posting headlines, are also in the running for hard-to-hire positions. 

Based on the latest State of the Developer Ecosystem report by HackerEarth, drawn from thousands of responses from developers, hiring managers and tech recruiters, certain tech roles are particularly challenging to fill. These roles include full-stack developer, artificial intelligence engineer, cybersecurity professional, and data scientist. Here is a comprehensive chart displaying the findings:

Source: HackerEarth

While HackerEarth's data partially aligns with Index.dev's current challenges in engineer recruitment, the demand for AI professionals has surged. Consequently, Index.dev places AI/ML engineers at the forefront of the list of difficult-to-hire tech roles.

To provide further insights, we present 11 tech roles that IT recruiters commonly find challenging to fill, along with the average annual salary in the U.S. based on data from ZipRecruiter. Additionally, we offer some valuable tips to enhance your hiring strategies and up your hiring game. 

1. AI/Machine Learning Engineer

AI Engineer average annual salary in the U.S.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have become essential for businesses across industries. Despite an increasing number of IT professionals pursuing AI and ML courses, the demand for skilled candidates continues to surpass the available supply. While the supply-demand mismatch has slightly improved in recent years, AI and ML roles remain among the most challenging for employers to fill. These roles typically require advanced mathematics and programming skills, making it difficult to find suitable candidates, even for entry-level positions.

Jobs in this area include:

  • Senior Machine Learning Engineer: RPA, Python, TensorFlow
  • AI/Machine Learning Enterprise Architect
  • Head of RPA program delivery
  • RPA Developer
  • Senior Web Developer C++, C# or Java .NET and AI, RPA
  • Business Development Manager – RPA + Intelligent Automation

Hiring AI/ML Engineers? Cut hiring costs in half with Index.dev, and get top-tier profiles in 48 hours.

2. Cybersecurity Engineer

Cybersecurity Engineer average annual salary in the U.S. 

Cybersecurity roles rank second on the list of hardest IT jobs to fill. As cloud computing and digital interconnectedness become more prevalent, the frequency of security threats also increases. Governments have responded by implementing regulations that require companies to meet specific security standards for safeguarding customer data. This has resulted in a surge in demand for cybersecurity professionals who can effectively prevent data breaches and adapt to evolving security threats. Cybersecurity specialists are responsible for protecting an organization's network, systems, and data from cybercriminals. They require expertise in the latest security technologies and techniques, and must continuously update their skills to stay ahead of new threats. Numerous surveys have confirmed that employers consistently struggle to fill cybersecurity roles, and this challenge is expected to persist in the foreseeable future.

Jobs in this area include: 

  • Information Security Engineer
  • Network Security Engineer
  • Security Operations Engineer
  • IT Security Engineer
  • Application Security Engineer
  • Cloud Security Engineer
  • Incident Response Engineer
  • Security Systems Engineer
  • Vulnerability Management Engineer

Hiring Cyber Security Engineers? Cut hiring costs in half with Index.dev, and get top-tier profiles in 48 hours.

3. DevOps Engineer

DevOps Engineer average annual salary in the U.S. 

The adoption of DevOps practices in IT departments has revolutionized the software development process, aiming to enhance speed and code quality. DevOps involves integrating and automating workflows between software developers and IT operations. While DevOps has been around since 2007, its recent surge in popularity has created a high demand for professionals trained and experienced in this field. Among the sought-after DevOps roles, the DevOps engineer stands out. DevOps engineers collaborate with developers and operations staff to optimize system performance. They possess strong coding and scripting skills, coupled with a deep understanding of DevOps principles. As organizations increasingly embrace DevOps, the need for qualified DevOps engineers continues to outpace the available talent pool.

Jobs in this area include:

  • DevSecOps Engineers
  • DevSecOps Consultant/Engineer
  • DevSecOps Project Lead with Security Clearance
  • Security Architect 
  • Application Security Engineer (DevSecOps)
  • Security Architect DevOps, Software, SOC, IAM, Cloud, Retail

Hiring DevOps Engineers? Cut hiring costs in half with Index.dev, and get top-tier profiles in 48 hours.

4. Full-Stack Developer

Full-stack average annual salary in the U.S.

The role of a full-stack developer has often been regarded as something of a legend, primarily because most developers specialize in either front-end or back-end development. Bridging the gap between the front-end and back-end of websites and web applications is an ongoing challenge for many organizations, leading to a growing demand for professionals who possess a comprehensive understanding of the "full stack." However, these positions typically require a higher level of experience, making it challenging for aspiring developers to gain the necessary qualifications to become full-stack developers.

Jobs in this area include: 

  • Full-stack Web Developer 
  • Full-stack Application Developer
  • Full-stack Engineer proficient in JavaScript, PHP, .NET, Python, or Java
  • Test Automation Engineer
  • DevOps Specialist

Hiring Full-Stack Engineers? Cut hiring costs in half with Index.dev, and get top-tier profiles in 48 hours.

5. Software Architect

Software architect average annual salary in the U.S. 

Software Architects are like rare jewels.As the name implies, they play a crucial role in planning and organizing an organization's software systems. Taking charge of development projects, devising software solutions, overseeing testing, troubleshooting issues, managing release cycles, and facilitating communication with stakeholders and higher-level personnel are all part of the software architect's purview. This high-level position encompasses a diverse range of responsibilities, demanding advanced technical prowess and leadership abilities. Prospective candidates must possess substantial prior experience and training to be considered for the software architect role. Consequently, employers frequently encounter challenges in finding qualified individuals to fill this critical position.

Jobs in this area include:

  • Software Architect
  • Solutions Architect
  • Enterprise Architect
  • System Architect
  • Application Architect
  • Technical Architect
  • Cloud Architect
  • Data Architect
  • Integration Architect
  • Infrastructure Architect

Hiring Software Architects? Cut hiring costs in half with Index.dev, and get top-tier profiles in 48 hours.

6. Cloud Architect

Cloud Architect average annual salary in the U.S. 

The exponential growth of cloud computing in the past decade has resulted in a soaring demand for skilled cloud professionals. This upward trend is expected to persist as businesses increasingly rely on the cloud for their operations. Within the realm of cloud professionals, the role of a cloud architect holds significant importance as they are entrusted with the task of devising and executing comprehensive cloud computing strategies for organizations. While cloud architects share similar responsibilities with software architects, their specialization lies in working with cloud services. As businesses continue to embrace cloud technology, the need for proficient cloud architects will remain vital in driving successful cloud implementations.

Jobs in this area include:

  • Cloud and Infrastructure Architect, AWS
  • Cloud Infrastructure Architect – Oracle 936
  • Solution Architect
  • Cloud Solutions Architect (AWS)
  • Platform Architect/
  • Google Cloud Architect
  • Service Cloud Architect
  • AWS Cloud Architect
  • Security Architect
  • Cloud Integration Architect
  • Azure Developer
  • Cloud Integration and API strategy, Cloud Engineering

Hiring Cloud Architects? Cut hiring costs in half with Index.dev, and get top-tier profiles in 48 hours.

7. Data Scientist

Data Scientist average annual salary in the U.S. 

Data scientists play a crucial role in organizations by analyzing data, uncovering patterns, developing predictive algorithms, and presenting insights to drive informed business decisions. To excel in data science roles, applicants typically need a master's degree and proficiency in advanced mathematics, statistics, and computer science. Additionally, familiarity with various machine learning techniques is highly desirable. The combination of these specialized skills makes it challenging to find qualified individuals for data science positions. Moreover, considering the vast amount of data that modern companies handle, the demand for skilled data scientists remains incredibly high.

Jobs in this area include:

  • Data Analyst
  • Data Science and Analytics Director
  • Data Engineer
  • Senior/Lead Data Scientist
  • Data Analyst – Marketing/Retention
  • Senior Strategic Consultant – Data Science and Analytics

Hiring Data Scientists? Cut hiring costs in half with Index.dev, and get top-tier profiles in 48 hours.

8. Software Engineer

Software Engineer average annual salary in the U.S. 

Software engineers are integral to the development of software, with a focus on building and maintaining applications rather than the overall system architecture. While they share similarities with software architects, their primary responsibilities lie in coding, testing, and ensuring software functionality. Although software engineering roles may not require as much experience as software architecture positions, companies often hire a larger number of software engineers. The combination of high demand and a wide range of required skills makes filling software engineer positions a challenging task for employers.

Jobs in this area include:

  • Software Developer
  • C++ Software Engineer 
  • Embedded Software Engineer
  • Robotic Systems Software Engineer
  • C#, MVC, SQL, Javascript Software Developer 
  • Systems Engineer
  • FX Technology Software Engineer 
  • Machine Learning Software Engineer

Hiring Software Engineers? Cut hiring costs in half with Index.dev, and get top-tier profiles in 48 hours.

9. IT Project Manager

IT Project Manager average annual salary in the U.S. 

IT project managers play a crucial role in initiating, planning, and executing software development projects to drive organizational success. As businesses strive to adapt and enhance their operations, effective project management becomes essential for seamless transitions and achieving desired outcomes. However, finding qualified candidates for this valuable role can be challenging. Organizations typically seek project managers with strong leadership skills, substantial experience, and proficiency in Agile or similar methodologies. Despite the importance of the role, project manager salaries often fall below those of other positions, resulting in fewer exceptional applicants. Consequently, the demand for skilled IT project managers remains high.

Jobs in this area include: 

  • Software Project Manager
  • Infrastructure Project Manager
  • Systems Project Manager
  • Digital Project Manager
  • Agile Project Manager
  • E-commerce Project Manager
  • IT Program Manager
  • IT Delivery Manager
  • Project Lead
  • Business Analyst

Hiring IT Project Managers? Cut hiring costs in half with Index.dev, and get top-tier profiles in 48 hours.

10. IoT Engineer 

IoT Engineer average annual salary in the U.S. 

An IoT (Internet of Things) Engineer is a specialist in the design, development, and implementation of IoT systems and solutions. Their expertise lies in connecting physical objects to the digital realm through devices, sensors, and networks, facilitating communication and data exchange. IoT engineers are instrumental in creating cutting-edge applications in industries like healthcare, manufacturing, transportation, and smart cities. The scarcity of IoT engineers can be attributed to the intricate nature of their skill set, the rapid advancement of technology, and the high demand for their expertise. As the IoT continues to expand, the need for skilled IoT engineers remains significant.

Jobs in this area include:

  • Product Manager – Software, IoT and Apps
  • IoT Security Expert
  • Senior Information Security Architect, IoT
  • IoT Specialist Solution Architect
  • Head of IoT 
  • IoT Consultant 

Hiring IoT Engineers? Cut hiring costs in half with Index.dev, and get top-tier profiles in 48 hours.

11. UI/UX Designers 

UI/UX designer average annual salary in the U.S. 

A UI/UX designer is responsible for crafting user-friendly and visually captivating interfaces for digital products. Their primary focus is on enhancing the user experience and ensuring that the product is intuitive and easy to navigate. By combining creativity with technical skills, they design interfaces that meet user needs while reflecting the brand's identity. However, filling the role of a UI/UX designer can be challenging due to several factors:

  • Unique Skill Set: UI/UX designers require a unique blend of artistic creativity and technical expertise.
  • Collaboration and Communication skills: UI/UX designers often collaborate closely with cross-functional teams, including developers and product managers.

Given these factors, the demand for skilled UI/UX designers consistently exceeds the available talent pool, making it a challenging position to fill for many organizations.

Jobs in this area include:

  • Senior UX Designer
  • Senior User Interface (UI) Designer
  • Senior Product Designer
  • Head of UX and Design
  • Senior Experience Designer
  • Design Lead
  • Interaction Design Lead

Hiring UI/UX Designers? Cut hiring costs in half with Index.dev, and get top-tier profiles in 48 hours.



What you should know when recruiting hard-to-fill tech roles

"The dynamics of the talent battle have undergone a significant transformation," remarks Mike Sokirka, Co-founder at Index.dev. "The talent pool has expanded considerably, extending beyond geographical limitations that were previously tied to company headquarters."

Recruiting for hard-to-fill tech roles presents certain challenges that companies need to be aware of:

  1. It will affect your budget:  With the high demand for technical professionals, companies should expect higher costs associated with attracting and retaining talent. To tackle the global talent shortage, organizations may need to allocate larger budgets for hiring. Offering competitive compensation, perks, flexible working arrangements, health and wellness benefits, and growth opportunities becomes crucial in attracting top talent.
  2. You’ll have to refine your hiring approach: To excel as a tech recruiter, it's important to have a deep understanding of your specific talent pool. When filling these hard-to-fill positions, it's essential to identify the specific skills and qualities you're seeking in candidates. Attracting tech talent requires a tailored approach that recognizes their unique expertise and requirements.
  3. You can conquer hard-to-fill engineering roles: At Index.dev we specialize in helping companies find tech talent in fields where recruitment can be difficult. With access to an extensive pool of over 10,000 pre-vetted tech professionals from around the world, you can find the right candidates for your organization. Visit Index.dev to learn more about our streamlined recruitment and vetting process. Let us help you overcome the talent gap and build a strong tech team.

By acknowledging these factors and adapting your hiring strategies accordingly, you can enhance your chances of successfully recruiting for hard-to-fill tech roles.

Are you a senior engineer developer skilled in one of these roles? Register to Index.dev, get pitched to top-tier projects in the U.S. or UK, and get a full-time, long-term remote job with better compensation and career growth opportunities.