One of the achievements of modern science is the emergence of a fledgling industry exploiting the weird and wonderful properties of the quantum world. This industry develops technologies, devices and services based on quantum cryptography, quantum metrology, quantum computing and other properties of the quantum world.
It’s no surprise, then, that this industry needs people with powerful quantum skills, and that leads to new combinations of talent and entirely new jobs.
And this raises an important question: what skills are in demand? Universities and educational institutions desperately need to know more about the demands of the quantum industry so they can start training the next generation of workers.
Ciaran Hughes of FermiLab in Batavia, Illinois and his colleagues therefore decided to survey 57 companies involved in the nascent quantum industry to find out what kinds of skills they are looking for and which ones are most in demand. And the results hold some surprises.
Quantum job titles
The most striking result of the survey is that the quantum industry has created entirely new types of jobs. One in-demand position is for error correction scientists.
It is a work that comes from the nature of the quantum world. Quantum objects are extremely delicate and sensitive to external influences that generate calculation errors. A significant challenge, therefore, is to find ways to prevent these errors from overwhelming any quantum computation.
This is what a scientist who specializes in error correction does. Several companies interviewed said they would be hiring experts in this area over the next few years.
The most in-demand job is for quantum algorithm developers, with more than 20 companies looking to hire one in the near future. They are quantum coders, people who design and create the software that quantum computers run on.
One of the most significant findings of the survey is that the quantum industry also needs many people with conventional skills: data scientists, software programmers, system architects, sales and marketing, etc.
These workers do not need specialized quantum skills and can therefore be recruited relatively easily from the pool of future workers being trained.
“We find a range of job opportunities from very specific jobs, such as quantum algorithm developer and error correction scientist, to broader job categories in business, software and hardware,” say Hughes and his colleagues. “These broader jobs require a range of skills, most of which are not quantum related.”
Also, not all workers in the quantum industry will need a PhD in quantum-related subjects. Instead, employees will come with a range of education levels from bachelor’s to master’s and beyond.
Most quantum bound employers expect their workers to learn the essentials of what they need on the job. “Overall, there was no consensus on the most critical hiring challenges, about a third of companies said hiring quantum information theorists and people with electronics skills analog was a challenge,” the team says.
Hughes and co say the survey results point to a few recommendations. For example, this new industry will require many “quantum aware” people, but far fewer highly specialized quantum experts. This must be reflected in the courses offered by universities.
The quantum industry also needs people with basic business skills to help it grow. So there needs to be a closer connection between business schools and the quantum industry.
Hughes and his colleagues make one final point to keep in mind. They say the quantum industry is still young and based on a science that is still far from fully understood. So things could change quickly in the future. It is entirely possible, for example, that the potential of quantum technology is currently being overestimated.
Nevertheless, the quantum industry is thriving, and many are predicting huge growth in the future. Earlier this year, market research firm Researchandmarkets.com predicted that the global quantum technology industry would be worth $32 billion by 2026.
This should attract many entrepreneurs. If you have dreamed of becoming a quantum worker, your time is near!
Ref: Quantum Industry Needs Assessment: arxiv.org/abs/2109.03601