Improving economy means opportunities in IT

According to the recently released Robert Half Technology Salary Guide 2011, IT hiring may be poised for a rebound in the coming year. In the wake of the recession, business leaders will continue to approach their personnel investments cautiously, but opportunities -- and compensation -- should increase for job seekers who have the right skills. People who can help companies grow while becoming more efficient are likely to be in highest demand.

The annual guide outlines the roles and capabilities that will be in greatest demand in the coming year, as well as salary ranges for a wide variety of IT positions. It's based on exclusive research on hiring trends, as well as the thousands of project and full-time placements made by Robert Half Technology professionals across the U.S.

Skills in high demand

The hard-learned lessons of the downturn have compelled companies to focus on projects that deliver a high return on investment, as well as those that help them better manage their assets.

The resumption of postponed projects, combined with the need to execute new initiatives, will drive demand for application developers, .Net developers, systems administrators, database administrators and desktop support professionals.

Hot jobs will vary across regions and industries, but demand for the following skills is projected to be high in 2011:

  • Programming. Employers will seek IT professionals who are well versed in Flex, .Net, Java, mySQL, PHP, Silverlight and portal technologies such as SharePoint.
  • Information security. As the number and variety of networked devices continue to rise, the need to protect corporate data and customers' private information is becoming more critical.
  • Infrastructure support. Rebounding businesses that add staffers to capitalize on growth opportunities in 2011 will require additional help desk and desktop support personnel.
  • Business mind-set. Companies prize IT professionals who understand how technology supports broader business objectives. Business analysis, project management and related skills will be in high demand.
  • Enterprise resource planning. As organizations strive to make the most of limited resources, they'll continue to value individuals adept in one or more of the major ERP packages.

Projected salary increases

Modest increases in pay are expected for most IT roles, with more-significant boosts for those in greatest demand, including the following positions:

  • Web designers are projected to receive between $50,750 and $83,000 in base pay, up 5.5% from 2010 levels. Companies are renewing their investments in technologies that drive customer-friendly Web experiences.
  • ERP technical developers -- professionals who tailor ERP software for their organizations -- should experience a similar boost. The projected range of $79,250 to $109,500 represents an increase of 5.2% over 2010.
  • Business intelligence analysts who can support better decision-making can expect starting salaries of $82,500 to $116,250, up 5%.
  • Data modelers with the skills to analyze data requirements for business processes are projected to see an increase in starting salary of 4.5%, to somewhere between $80,750 and $111,250.
  • Network managers can expect to earn $79,250 to $109,500, up 4.3% from 2010. Employers need individuals who can handle increasingly complex networks and understand cloud computing, virtualization and software as a service.

The industries expected to have the highest need for IT professionals include business services, transportation and healthcare. At healthcare organizations, demand continues to rise for IT professionals who can help with the transition to electronic medical records.

What CIOs need now

The trends expected to impact hiring in 2011 are taking shape now. When asked to name the functional area in which it's currently most difficult to find skilled professionals, 21% of CIOs cited networking, followed by information security and help desk/technical support (at 13% each). In other words, IT professionals with the right skills don't need to wait until next year to take advantage of a growing range of opportunities.

John Reed is executive director of Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of IT professionals for initiatives ranging from e-business development and multiplatform systems integration to network security and technical support. The company has more than 100 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at www.rht.com. For additional career advice, follow RHT on Twitter at www.twitter.com/roberthalftech.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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