6 hottest IT skills for 2010

A slowly reviving economy will have organizations hiring in a few key areas, looking for IT pros with a mix of skills

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2. Help Desk/Technical Support

It's no surprise that there will be strong demand for the people who make the help desk hum in 2010, Silver says. The need for support technicians tends to reflect general business conditions, he says. "As the business starts to improve, companies hire more people, which increases demand for help desk staff," Silver explains.

Willmer says he's already seeing a rise in demand for help desk and support skills, especially among companies that cut too deeply in this area in 2009. "They can get away with it for a certain time period, but it eventually catches up and affects revenue," he says. Instead of offering full-time positions, however, some companies are hiring on a project basis, he adds.

3. Networking

The demand for networking professionals, Willmer says, is likely connected to the growing complexity of networks and to the stresses placed on them by virtualization and newly popular approaches to application delivery, such as cloud computing and software as a service.

Cooke says the network will be a big area of focus in the coming year. Energy Northwest is making increasing use of video and voice over its IP network, so it will need network, voice and radio engineers to handle upgrades and ensure compliance with new federal mandates. One of those mandates requires the company to move from wideband to narrowband radio frequencies.

Patterson sees Scottrade dabbling with a converged infrastructure in the next 12 months, driving a need for people with a mix of server, software and networking skills to support networked storage and server devices contained in a single chassis. "This will change the market for the type of people we need," he says. "It won't be just a guy who knows EMC and Hitachi storage, but [one] who knows server, storage and networking all in one device. We'll need a guy who says, 'The network has a problem here,' but when he traces it down, the problem is due to a lock on a table in the storage device."

4. Project Management

Silver sees project management as an area that is growing in importance and a good avenue for technology professionals interested in building up their careers. "Professionals who understand technology and how it fits in the overall business strategy are the ones who add the most value, get paid more and have the most fulfilling careers," he says.

5. Security

Willmer sees a relationship between demand for security skills and the still-shaky economy. "The biggest threat to companies is breaches by their own staff," he says. "When you throw in changes to the staff and disgruntled employees losing their benefits or facing the threat of being laid off, you increase the chances of network fraud or security infringement."

Meanwhile, Cooke is concentrating on hiring people with cybersecurity skills. "Ten years ago, we didn't worry -- as leaders in our companies -- about things like passwords," he says. "Now we're making sure we support complex passwords. That's just a new reality."

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