What Tech Skills Are Hot for 2006?

Developers, security experts and project managers will be in demand

Whether you're looking for a job or looking to fill one, expect hiring to heat up this year, driven by small but consistent gains in IT budgets. And if you're a job seeker with the right skills, 2006 could be your big year.

Despite the notion that hordes of U.S. IT jobs are being sent offshore, in reality, less than 5% of the 10 million people who make up the U.S. IT job market had been displaced by foreign workers through 2004, says Scot Melland, president and CEO of Dice Inc., a New York-based online jobs service. The numbers of jobs posted on Dice.com from January through September for developers, project managers and help desk technicians rose 40%, 47% and 45%, respectively, compared with the same period in 2004, says Melland.

Check out our updated 8 Hottest Skills for '08. In fact, an exclusive Computerworld survey revealed that two of the top four skills IT executives will hire for in the coming year are perennially linked with outsourcing, namely, application development (ranked first) and IT help desk skills (ranked fourth). Information security skills ranked second, and project management came in third.

Here's what staffing experts have to say about the demand in these hot skills areas.

1. Desperate For Developers

There's a lot of talk about developer jobs being sent overseas, but "most of the stuff that's going offshore is low-level coding jobs," says Craig Symons, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass. Over the past year, companies have started working through their backlog of IT projects. As a result, says Symons, demand for developers with .Net and Java skills has increased, as has the need for business analysts and IT relationship managers who work with business managers to understand their divisions' requirements.

Case in point: An employer that was working with Talenthire.com, a job placement service in Atlanta, was recently negotiating salary terms with an entry-level C++ and .Net developer. The technician, who had graduated from college in 2004 and probably started his career making $40,000-plus per year, quickly moved up in salary by about $10,000, says Mike Veronesi, a managing partner at Talenthire.com. After Talenthire.com's customer offered the candidate $60,000, he demanded $62,500. "In this marketplace, those people are just tough to get," says Veronesi.

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