Top 5 remote tech jobs for IT contractors

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The prevalence of remote and hybrid working since the covid pandemic has largely remained in the UK tech sector since the pandemic accelerated it.

Remote is no longer just a nice-to-have for tech candidates

And it seems that the likes of Free-Work readers aren’t likely to complain! A study by Dice found that 75% of tech professionals find the prospect of remote working to be either “very” or “extremely” important.

Furthermore, 60% of tech professionals emerged as preferring completely remote work over hybrid working.

As a specialist in recruiting for tech professionals, we know that one of the most common motivations and factors candidates look for in new jobs is this ability to work remotely, writes William Cokayne of staffing firm Leap29.

The talent land-grab for techies feeds the remote work revolution

Given the high demand for tech skills and the ability to work remotely, it is likely that these trends will persist; even grow, as companies compete for the best candidates.

So that begs the question, which tech or computing roles in particular are best suited to remote work given the high demand?

Here’s my list of the top 5 remote tech jobs for IT contractors, in terms of demand and their remote-friendliness!

1. Data Engineer

Data engineers are an essential part of the data ecosystem, being in increasingly high demand by companies across all industries.

Responsible for the design, architecture, construction and maintenance of data infrastructure, they are essential for any company looking to leverage data for insights and building products.

The day-to-day of a data engineer sees them develop data pipelines, efficient data ingestion from various data sources, processing and proper storage. This important role requires data engineers to be proficient in various tech disciplines and have expertise with cutting-edge tools.

Data engineers are frequently required to have some programming skills (such as Python or Java). You increasingly are expected to have strong experience with database tools like SQL, proficiency in big data technologies (like Hadoop and Spark), and extensive experience working on cloud platforms such as AWS and Google Cloud.

Data engineers are largely considered the backbone of the data team and collaborate closely with Data Scientists and Data Analysts. In the UK alone, LinkedIn Insights shows that the number of Data Engineering professionals has increased 5% in the last year to over 14,000, with 3000 changing jobs in the last 12 months and there are over 1,300 live jobs posts currently, many of them remote or hybrid.

2. Data Scientist

Data scientists are responsible for analysing complex data and extracting valuable insights to drive decision making and most importantly, innovation, within the companies or organisations which hire them.

The data scientist’s objective in 2024/25 is primarily to discover patterns, trends and correlations within data sets as well -- as more recently -- in the form of specialised Machine Learning Engineer, to build products and features for some of the most important tech products in our day-to-day lives.

Indeed, consumer and enterprise dependency on AI and algorithms is increasingly drastically, and Data Scientists and ML Engineers are the people building them!

Data Scientists are skilled in programming, mostly specialising in Python or R.

As Data Scientists are becoming increasingly relied on for building complex algorithms (such as Deep Learning Models) they are relying heavily on cutting-edge tools like Tensorflow and PyTorch. These tools are at the fore of the AI Boom and are being used by some of the biggest tech companies like Meta and Google.

In the UK alone, LinkedIn Insights shows that the number of Data Science professionals has increased by 4% to over 15,000, with over 3,600 changing jobs in the last year and there are over 700 live jobs posts currently, with a significant chunk being remote or partly remote.  

3. Data Analyst

While Data Scientists are forward-looking and seek to influence the trajectory of an organisation’s direction and innovation, Data Analysts are the vital part of the data team that analyse data using existing methods primarily for the purpose of business questions.

They are largely responsible for collecting, cleaning and organising data into reports and dashboard for business stakeholders and other relevant data team members.

The Data Analyst’s toolkit is largely reliant on statistical and analytical tools such as SQL and Tableau.

Given the overlap with other key functions in the data team such as the data engineering and data science, Data Analysts regularly transition over to one of these more specialised areas when supported by their end-client / employer; picking up programming and engineering skills!

In the UK alone, LinkedIn insights shows that the number of Data Analyst professionals has increased by 3% to over 31,000, with over 7,000 changing jobs in the last 12 months, and over 700 live job posts currently, including opportunities which include flexible or remote working.

4. Software Engineer

The role with the widest scope in tech is undoubtedly the software engineer.

With countless programming languages and specialisms to consider, software engineering lends itself well to remote working.

Broadly speaking, software engineers are responsible for designing, developing and maintaining software applications and systems. The most common software engineering languages (according to Statista) are JavaScript; HTML/CSS and Python.

Understandably there is a lot of competition for these skills. Most software engineers use many programming languages in their career and will often specialise in one particular language.

With the creation of more modern languages such as Google’s GoLang or other languages such as Rust -- favoured for its high-performance and concurrency, the software engineering market allows for hyper specialisation.

In the UK alone, LinkedIn Insights shows that the number of software engineers in the UK is at over 164,000, with over 27,000 changing jobs in the last year, and over 4750 live jobs vacancies, a fair chunk of which are hybrid or 100% remote.

5. Cloud Engineer

As the tech world shifts towards greater reliance on cloud computing, so does the job market and demand for dedicated cloud specialists.

The term “cloud engineer” can be used as a catch-all for the cloud engineering functions such as DevOps, Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) and Platform Engineering.

The responsibilities of these roles can differ somewhat but generally speaking they are responsible for designing, implementing and managing cloud-based infrastructure and solutions.

They leverage cloud technology platforms such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft’s Azure to build scalable and secure systems to allow businesses /organisations to operate in the cloud.

Cloud engineers are responsible for optimising cloud resources, and ensuring high-availability for their customers.

Further specialisation in automation tools such Terraform and Kubernetes make Cloud Architects some of the most highly sought-after tech professionals on the market, particularly on a freelance basis.

In the UK alone, LinkedIn Insights shows that the number of Cloud Engineers (including SRE, DevOps, Platform) is close to 19,000 professionals, with 3,700 changing job in the last 12 months and there are currently nearly 2,000 live job vacancies, and they often specify the successful candidate will not always be required at the client site.

Remote tech jobs: 2024-25 round-up and outlook

As organisations compete more and more for the best tech professionals, it increasingly means that private and public sector end-clients are having to cast their recruitment net wider, looking at a truly 'global' tech labour market, and embracing fully remote contractors -- who tend to like to work off-site and in their own environment.

As a CTO, why restrict your team’s talent and expertise by only hiring people within a certain geographical location?

Remote hiring policies allow forward-thinking companies who trust their workforce to focus on the projects that matter while greatly improving their chances of securing the right engineers, analysts and developers.

Written by

William Cokayne

Leap29

Heading up Leap29’s Data and Analytics recruitment, William is a specialist data recruiter with experience working in the USA and Europe. Being a data specialist throughout his career, William has an extensive network of clients and candidates within data engineering/science and business intelligence/analytics. With a passion for mentoring and developing the careers of candidates who work with him, William strives to foster growth and success within the data community.

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