For IT professionals, the current job market offers good news and bad news. On the upside, there is a definite talent shortage in the IT market — but in potentially less encouraging news, it’s a shortage of the right skills.
IT salary trends also offer a good news / bad news scenario: Salaries and bonuses are going up, but the growth is slow.
Employers can’t fill “hot” tech positions fast enough.
Recruiters and HR professionals agree that when it comes to in-demand IT skills, there just isn’t enough talent to go around. The rapid pace of change in technology practically ensures that when a skill becomes hot and demand explodes, there simply aren’t sufficient numbers of IT professionals who’ve already gained experience with the new skill to supply business needs.
However, IT pros can watch these trends and acquire new skills that will bring them into demand. Computerworld’s IT Salary Survey 2014 breaks down the current top 10 sought-after skills for tech professionals:
Application development. Number one on the list for the third year in a row is this skill, which 49 percent of managers expecting to hire this year are looking for.
Help desk and IT support. Considering the rate of introduction for new technologies, this one shouldn’t be surprising as the second most in-demand skill, with 44 percent of managers looking to fill positions here in 2014. In fact, demand for IT support is rising faster than any other area — it’s up from 37 percent last year.
Business intelligence and database analysis / development. These two separate skills tied for third place on the top 10 list. In both cases, 29 percent of hiring managers have plans to increase their staffing for BI and data-related positions — including database administrators, database developers, and database architects.
The remaining IT skills on the top 10 list include:
- Network administration
- Cloud computing
- Web design and development
- Data management
Beyond hard skills: A shortage of sought-after qualities
One of the difficulties hiring managers face in finding the right IT talent is their own desire to employ the perfectly well-rounded candidate — a skilled IT pro who also has great people skills and problem-solving abilities.
The role of IT workers is changing, and it’s no longer sufficient to deliver a flawless technical performance. Tech pros who are most in-demand are those who can demonstrate flexibility in their approaches, and who are able to break down and explain complex technical concepts in language that executives, co-workers, and end users can understand.
The outlook for IT salaries
In addition to hot job skills, the Computerworld survey looks at salary data in both current and historical senses. This year, average IT salary changes include:
- Average pay increases of 2.1%
- Average bonus increases of 0.7%
- 60% of IT pros reported receiving raises (up from 57% last year)
- 8% reported pay cuts (down from 9% last year)
- 61% of IT professionals feel secure in their jobs
Overall, IT salaries are entering a slow climb, after decreases in pay and bonuses brought about by the recession. In fact, in 2012, less than 50 percent of IT workers reported receiving raises in salary.
While the general correlation between in-demand skills and commensurate salary isn’t quite there yet, IT professionals would be well-served to take on “hot” skills and make an effort to further personal development, in order to meet the soft skill requirement that gives IT candidates an additional edge in the job market.