The Next Hot Jobs In IT

Thursday Nov 16th 2006 by Katherine Spencer Lee
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Certain tech professionals will see plenty of openings in the years ahead -- and healthy salary increases.

There is good news for those searching for jobs in the technology field in the months ahead. Continued business expansion and increasing investments in technology are driving demand for skilled IT professionals across North America. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that between 2004 and 2014, 1.49 million new computer and IT-related job openings will be created.

To fill these roles – and replace baby-boom-age staff preparing to retire – companies are taking steps to enhance their recruiting and retention efforts. Increased base pay, signing and performance bonuses, and other perks are becoming more common as companies contend for the best candidates.

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Positions in Greatest Demand

According to the recently released Robert Half Technology 2007 Salary Guide (available for Datamation readers to request here), IT professionals, on average, can expect a 2.8 percent increase in starting salaries in the coming year. High-demand positions are expected to see increases in base compensation of between 4 and 5 percent.

• Software Developers

A shortage of experienced software developers means companies are willing to pay top dollar to recruit and retain these professionals. As a result, they will see the greatest starting salary gains of any job classification in 2007. Software developers can expect base compensation to rise 5.1 percent, to between $60,250 and $94,750 a year. Demand is due in part to the explosion of software content used by mobile and other device manufacturers, as well as the launch of Microsoft Vista. Employers seek candidates with ActiveX, C#, Visual Basic, .NET and Java skills.

• Data Warehouse Managers

Starting salaries for data warehouse managers are expected to increase 4.2 percent in 2007, to the range of $85,500 to $113,500 annually. These professionals are needed to design and maintain data warehouses and data mart systems, as well as work with database developers, administrators and managers to ensure data systems conform to enterprise architecture and strategy. Candidates with experience developing and implementing strategies for gathering data from operational databases and third-party vendors, and managing technical resources and staff, are most marketable.

• Web Developers

Web developers are in high demand as companies of all sizes leverage Web 2.0 initiatives to drive business. Web developers also are needed to provide technical assistance to web administrators, integrate websites with back-end systems, and write test plans and results. Consequently, those in this job classification may see starting salaries increase an average of 4.2 percent in 2007, to between $54,750 and $81,500 annually. Those with .NET, AJAX and Java skills could see multiple offers from employers.

• Project Managers

An increasing number of employers are recognizing the importance of planning, budgeting and scheduling skills as technology is integrated into all aspects of business, and IT staff are required to collaborate with employees throughout the organization. It’s no surprise, then, that project managers will see an increase in base compensation of 4.1 percent in 2007, to between $72,750 and $106,250 a year. Companies seek experienced project managers to supervise IT applications development, from planning though implementation, as well as set project scope, priorities, deadlines and deliverables schedules.

• Application Architects

These professionals are needed to design major aspects of an application’s architecture, including such components as user interface, middleware and infrastructure. Employers seek candidates with experience providing technical leadership to the applications development team, performing design and code reviews, and ensuring that uniform enterprise-wide application design standards are maintained. Professionals in this role can expect to earn starting salaries of between $80,000 and $112,750, an increase of 4 percent over 2006 levels.

tech salary chart

Next page: Gaining an edge in the hiring process

High-demand skill sets command higher starting salaries in any market. According to a recent Robert Half Technology survey of 1,400 CIOs, the most sought-after technical skills today are Windows administration (Server 2000/2003), network administration (Cisco, Nortel, Novell), database management (Oracle, SQL Server, DB2), wireless network management and firewall administration.

tech skills in demand

The Importance of Business Acumen

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While I meet with hiring managers and technology executives every day who seek professionals with the hard skills described above, an understanding of broader business and industry trends is often what they consider most essential when adding new staff. In a recent Robert Half Technology survey, 41 percent of chief information officers (CIOs) polled said they are placing greater weight on knowledge of business fundamentals – such as accounting, finance and general operations – when evaluating candidates for IT positions.

Technology is being integrated into all aspects of an organization’s operations, and those who can prove they understand the realities of business, including the customer base, regulatory environment, growth strategies and competitive pressures will be most marketable. IT professionals who can show how their IT efforts have helped previous employers achieve business goals will most impress hiring managers.

Other Qualities in Demand

IT professionals who possess the following qualifications also are highly marketable:

• Industry experience ranks high on the wish list for many hiring managers. In a survey commissioned by Robert Half Technology, 43 percent of CIOs cited industry-specific experience as the asset they weigh most heavily when interviewing job candidates with similar skills.

• Certification is an important consideration for some hiring managers as it provides clear evidence of an individual’s familiarity with a particular technology or practice. An industry-recognized credential also demonstrates a person’s dedication to continuing education. Keep in mind, though, that certification is of greatest value when it is accompanied by practical work experience.

• Soft skills are becoming an essential requirement for any IT job. As technology becomes integrated into all aspects of business, employers seek professionals who can work effectively with others and clearly explain complex technical concepts to a variety of people both within and outside the organization.

The Bottom Line

This is an exciting time for IT professionals as new career opportunities emerge due to corporate expansion, shifting workforce demographics and other factors. Throughout the coming year, job candidates with exceptional technological and soft skills, business acumen, and industry experience can expect to receive the most rewarding employment offers and opportunities for advancement.

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