10 Hottest IT Jobs in Demand

July 25, 2008 (Baseline) Even in tough economic times, employees with the right skills will always be in demand in the IT industry. Baseline analyzed recent employment studies and interviewed several technology recruiters and industry professionals to find the hottest IT positions today. Although there is still consistent demand for the “old-reliable” jobs such as network administration and help desk positions, these picks reflect the current gaps between supply and demand.

1. Senior Level Java/J2EE and .NET Developers

Most headhunters agree that finding lead developers with Java/J2EE or .NET proficiency and management experience can be a tall task in today’s market. “If they're software developers and they have Java/J2EE or any of the .NET skills, they're very hot right now,” says Janet Miller, president of the recruiting firm Computer Management.

2. Application Development Managers

Dan Martineau of Martineau Recruiting Technology says that the need for application development managers nips closely at the heels of Java/J2EE opportunities at the top of search lists from clients. “There is a definite need for applications development managers with strong technical backgrounds, specifically within object-oriented and service-oriented architecture-based applications,” he says.

In the Robert Half Technology 2008 Salary Guide, lead applications developer was listed as the position predicted to see the largest increase in salary this year, with an increase of 7.6 percent.

3. Security Professionals

In spite of increased awareness about IT security in recent years, there is still a skills gap when it comes to this specialty. In fact, a recent CompTIA survey found that among all IT skills, security has the biggest disparity between demand and supply of proficient workers.

Managers we talk to say that the reason skills are coming up short is because the security landscape changes so rapidly that it is very difficult for anyone to stay on top of all of the different threats that are out there,” says Steven Ostrowski, director of corporate communications for CompTIA.

4. Architects of All Stripes

All varieties of architects are in strong demand today, but there is a special need for those who can help organizations ramp up their burgeoning service-level architecture deployments, Martineau says. “Architects of all stripes are big right now, but the hottest ones are applications architects,” says Martineau.

According to the Robert Half Technology 2008 Salary Guide, applications architects are expected this year to see the second-largest average pay raise among all of the positions it studied, with an expected bump of 7.5 percent.

5. Talented IT Managers

Pretty much all of the data and anecdotal evidence point to an acute need for talented IT managers. Businesses seek ideal candidates who not only have strong technical skills, but also proficiency in communication and business knowledge. “All of those things that fall into the bucket of what seem to be 'soft skills' is something that most employers—if not all employers—want in addition to the technical skills that people need to have,” Ostrowski says.

A recent survey by Robert Half Technology backed Ostrowski up—more than 41 percent of CIOs questioned said that they are placing a greater emphasis on knowledge of business fundamentals when considering applicants for IT positions.

These fundamentals are especially important for those in management, Martineau says. He believes that there is a particular need for managers who are able to capably lead geographically dispersed teams and who can effectively manage outsourced labor.

6. Business Technology Professionals

The fact that there even are designated “business technology” roles should scare IT professionals because, as Martineau puts it, they exist only because IT isn’t doing what is expected of it.

“The difference between business technology and information technology roles is that IT delivers a particular service—whether it’s a shared service or an application or whatever,” he says, “while business technology workers accomplish the hybrid goals that live between the business and IT. These are strategic roles that are all about aligning the business needs with IT.”

7. Database Administrators and Managers

In its annual salary report, Robert Half Technology recently pinned database administration and management as one of the key growth niches in IT, particularly in light of Bureau of Labor Statistics predictions that this sector will outpace the growth of all other occupations through 2014.

This year Robert Half expects the biggest salary bumps in this category to benefit data modelers (7 percent) and business intelligence analysts (6.6 percent).

8. Infrastructure Pros with Strong Backgrounds in Virtualization

Most organizations these days are trying to find a way to leverage virtualization deployments into bottom-line savings.

“Virtualization is the biggest thing going on in the data center right now,” Martineau says. “It allows you to deliver the same number of applications with a quarter of the servers, saving space, money and power, so people with virtualization skills are in high demand.”

9. Web 2.0 Developers

As business finds more ways to utilize Web 2.0 and service-oriented architecture (SOA), the need for developers with appropriate skills will continue to rise, Ostrowski says. “There's a lot of interest in the Web 2.0 type applications and development, so people who have some sort of ability in that arena certainly have a leg up,” he adds.

10. Wireless Networking Experts

Although wireless professionals may not be in very strong demand today, the need for their skills will soon outstrip the supply, many experts believe.

“Wireless IT skills are going to be critical in the not-too-distant future,” Ostrowski says.
A recent CompTIA survey of more than 3,500 IT managers found that wireless and radio frequency (RF) mobile technology is the skill set they expect to increase most in importance over the next five years.


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