Skills on the Rise

Be in the right place at the right time with the talents employers want.

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Dave Willmer, executive director of Robert Half Technology, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based IT staffing firm, says the salary findings for information security managers track with the data gathered by his company.

"Based on the CIOs we survey, information and network security is a No. 1 concern," says Willmer, who is a Computerworld columnist.

He cites an April RHT survey of 1,400 CIOs in which seven out of 10 respondents said that they will invest in IT initiatives in the next year, with 43% saying that information security projects top their lists. Virtualization (28%) and data center efficiency (27%) were next.

Willmer says that other positions getting bumps in pay are those involved in projects that address CIOs' top priorities, such as expanding wireless infrastructures to enhance employee mobility, improving the efficiency of storage systems -- particularly through virtualization -- or using BI tools to better support business decision-making.

How to Find What's Hot

Kaiser and others caution against focusing on job titles, since titles vary from company to company and can evolve rapidly. They say it's better to focus on the skills involved if you want to determine what's hot today -- and what will command the highest pay tomorrow.

"Jobs are simply packaging. You take competencies and cluster them and give them a name. So you want to focus on what needs these jobs take care of, and what are the competencies," says Caela Farren, president of MasteryWorks Inc., a career consulting firm in Falls Church, Va.

Analysts, career experts and IT professionals see a host of up-and-coming IT skill sets, many of which are put to use in jobs that go well beyond the responsibilities of the job titles that enjoyed the biggest raises in the Computerworld survey.

"We're in the business of not thinking about titles, but what does this person really do," says David Foote, CEO and chief research officer of Foote Partners LLC in Vero Beach, Fla.

In his firm's August update of its 2009 IT Skills Trends Report, Foote put knowledge of Linux, virtualization, Microsoft's .Net, SAP's NetWeaver and Java EE, SE and ME at the top of the list of hot noncertified skills.

Foote Partners identified the top certifications as GIAC Certified Incident Handler, EMC Proven Professional Technology Architect-Expert, Citrix Certified Integration Architect, HP Master Accredited Systems Engineer, and Cisco Certified Security Professional.

Research firm Gartner Inc. also highlighted in-demand skills in its 2009 IT Market Compensation Study. Analyst Lily Mok says IT professionals that are in high demand have Oracle, SAP, Java EE, .Net, service-oriented architecture and PeopleSoft expertise.

"Most of these [professionals] will be paid a premium," Mok says, noting that a lack of adequate supply will fuel salary increases.

She says other IT positions that will rise in priority (and compensation) include enterprise architects, database administrators and network architects.

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