This year, job prospects are holding steady for IT professionals. Modest industry growth is leading to opportunities for tech experts with a range of skills and specialties, and unlike other industries, IT is not expected to stagnate.
The annual Forecast survey from Computerworld for 2014 found that 32 percent of U.S. companies plan to increase their IT staff this year. Here’s a look at the most wanted tech skills they’ll be searching for.
Programming and application development
The number one skill on Computerworld’s list for two years running, 49% of survey respondents plan to hire programmers or application developers within the next 12 months. This group of IT professionals actually has one of the lowest employment rates in the country at 1.8%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
The current high demand and low availability for this skill means excellent prospects for IT professionals who specialize in programming. Within this category, the hottest skill subsets for 2014 are expertise in secure applications and mobile development.
Help desk and technical support
Up from No. 3 on last year’s Forecast survey, this skill comes in at second place for 2014 with 37% of employers looking to hire. Tech support skills have always been essential for the IT industry, so the availability of jobs in this area should come as no surprise.
What may be surprising—and encouraging—is the probable reason for the rising demand. After several years of outsourcing these functions to third-party help desk services, companies are returning to in-house tech support due to expanding infrastructures and an increase in company-provided Web and mobile services.
In one of the biggest rank increases from 2013 to 2014, networking skills moved to third place from No. 8 last year on the list of IT specialties employers want. A total of 31% of survey respondents plan to hire professionals with networking skills in the next 12 months.
The increased need for network administration likely stems from a higher demand for wireless connectivity. Unemployment rates are 1.1% for network and systems administrators, who are required to handle increased network traffic as well as troubleshooting.
Mobile applications and device management
Another big gainer in year-to-year rank, mobile skills are up from No. 9 in 2013 to No. 4 in 2014, with 27% of companies planning to hire mobile specialists this year. It’s almost a requirement—any organization wanting to stay competitive, has to jump on the mobile bandwagon.
In excellent shape regarding job prospects are mobile app developers and device management specialists who can implement and manage workplace personal device programs and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) initiatives.
The demand for project managers is high, with 25% of companies hiring for this skill in the next 12 months. Like the increased demand for tech support specialists, this category is a positive sign for the economy overall. More project management positions mean that more companies are willing to invest in strategic projects and technology initiatives.
Project managers with the best prospects are those that have strong organizational and technical skills, as well as excellent interpersonal skills with the ability to explain and champion projects to potential partners, investors, and key collaborators.
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