Big Data could generate millions of new jobs

May 21, 2013, 3:53 PM UTC

FORTUNE — With data analytics now one of the fastest growing fields in IT, it stands to reason that data scientists are in demand. That’s great for people with the requisite skills. The problem, according to Peter Sondergaard, a senior vice president at IT research firm Gartner, is that there aren’t enough of them.

Of the almost 2 million openings he expects over the next three years in the U.S. alone (4 million worldwide), Sondergaard predicts that only about one-third will be filled, making analytics software whizzes “a scarce, valuable commodity” that employers will have to fight to hire and retain.

Not all analytics talent is on the tech side. People who can translate mathematical models into English are needed, too. Among IT mavens, though, it’s clear which skills are shaping up to be the hottest in Big Data, says a new report from job site

Far and away the leader on the list is Hadoop. Originally developed in 2005, Hadoop is a Java-based open-source platform that was named after one of its inventors’ small son’s stuffed toy elephant. Hadoop powers Yahoo (YHOO) web searches, and Amazon (AMZN), eBay (EBAY), Google (GOOG), LinkedIn (LNKD), Twitter, and lots of other companies use it too.’s ranking of the top 10 tech skills Big Data needs now:

1. Hadoop plus Java — “the Number One combination by a large margin,” notes the report, adding that’s “not surprising given that [Hadoop] is a Java-based framework.”
2. Developer
3. NoSQL
4. Map Reduce
5. Big Data
6. Pig
7. Linux
8. Python
9. Hive
10. Scala

The shortage of professionals with experience in Hadoop and NoSQL has already given rise to higher pay for qualified hires, topping $100,000 on average, the report says.

But the real winner could be the U.S. economy as a whole. Anticipating a multiplier effect like that of the pre-recession auto industry, Peter Sondergaard predicts that “every Big Data-related role in the U.S. will create employment for three people outside of IT. So over the next three years, a total of 6 million jobs will be generated by the information economy.” Here’s hoping he’s right.