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Regardless of what specialty you are involved with in the IT field, sooner or later you will have to deal with some networking issue. Therefore, it is advantageous for all IT professionals to have a basic understanding of networking concepts, even those whose job roles by definition don't generally involve networks. Familiarity with TCP/IP, Ethernet, as well as fiber optics can be a major plus. CIOs understand the advantage of having software or hardware technicians who have a clear understanding of how their products will be utilized over the network and how different configurations will affect their performance.
This follows an ongoing trend of corporations wanting more from their employees. As with other departments as well, job roles within the IT field are blurring. Companies are expecting more of their employees and are demanding greater interaction between business divisions. As a result, there are fewer strictly segregated roles and less pigeonholing in terms of job responsibilities.
IT staffing agencies, such as Sapphire Technologies, are reporting a consistent demand and steady number of postings for IT engineering job s involving application frameworks and languages
such as ASP.Net, VB.Net, XML, PHP, Java, C#, and C++. This in part can be contributed to the continued popularity of GUI interfaces for proprietary as well as commercial applications. Another causal factor to this trend is that, in some cases, companies are rethinking their reliance on offshore labor for tasks involving .Net, C#, and similar technologies. Many found the process of managing these tasks to be unreliable and counterproductive, and as a result, are bringing those projects back in-house. While technical proficiency is important, of equal significance and value is versatility. With stringent budgetary restrictions, IT departments have to do more with less. Therefore, they want to hire tech personnel that have a broad
range of skills and capabilities. For example, CIOs want IT professionals who have the ability to effectively handle code and can also function as a team lead or project coordinator.
Employers are becoming increasingly choosy about the candidates they hire. They are demanding IT professionals with specific combinations of technical skills, job experience, and certifications. So, although there are a good number of IT positions open and available, over 400,000 according to the non-profit trade association CompTIA, employers are moving slowly in their hiring. Companies are choosing to hold out for just the right applicant.
Many of the positions that employers need filled are for technical support roles. Despite outsourcing, help desk and desktop support roles are one of the fastest growing in the U.S. In part, this can be attributed to the fact that these positions are generally entry level. IT pros often will take these roles to get their “foot in the door” with an organization, then they progress to more advanced roles and job functions. Therefore, there is a significant amount of turnover in these jobs and as employees cycle through this role onto other responsibilities; businesses need to replace the personnel in this vital job function.
According to Computer Economics, an independent research firm, demand for IT managers in relation to total IT personnel has remained relatively unchanged for the last three years. Holding steady at a median of 10.4%, it seems as though a staff to management balance has been achieved despite some unsettled economic times.
The study from Computer Economics speculates that one reason this change has occurred is because of evolving technologies. Technological breakthroughs have enabled organizations to delegate more responsibilities further down the change of command. It can also be attributed to the increased reliance on outsourcing and third party service providers. In these scenarios, managers are still required to oversee the project and ensure that deadlines are met, quality standards are maintained, and budgets are adhered to.
While management roles are remaining steady, businesses do seem to be investing in IT professionals in specializing in disciplines such as finance, contracts, procurement, and process management. This trend reflects companies' ongoing drive to maintain cost efficiency and effectiveness as these roles can directly affect these goals.
Job seekers who demonstrate IT engineering skills in business intelligence are growing in importance and value. Of particular interest to employers are IT professionals with aptitude in technologies such as Cognos, Business Objects, and Hyperion.
However, simply possessing technical skills is no longer enough. As competition in the job market continues to heat up, employers are becoming increasingly picky and are expecting more out of the IT pros they hire. Organizations want well rounded business analysts who are not only proficient at data mining; they must also have keenly developed business acumen. Possessing this combination of skills greatly increases their usefulness. Businesses today are striving to work smarter and more efficiently. Having access to key data can help company executives make smarter decisions.
Therefore, business analysts who truly understand company goals as well as the intricacies of the vertical market in which they compete have better insight into knowing what information would be most beneficial to capture to meet company objectives and how to best present the data for optimal use.
While some were beginning to believe that the ship had sailed on the open-source movement, increased focus on cost cutting over the past year has breathed new life into the acceptance of this technology. With competition in the business market heating up, organizations are looking for new ways to increase cost and performance efficiencies.
In addition, wide spread industry frustration over commercial software coupled with growing security concerns have further spawned the open-source appeal from both an operating system and application development level.
In response, many companies are banking on open-source solutions as a possible solution to address some of these concerns. As this trend continues to blossom, more IT engineering job positions are opening up looking for professionals who are skilled and have experience in any of the LAMP technologies (i.e. Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP). Individuals with these types of open-source skills are finding themselves in demand from businesses across the country.
The growing popularity of Voice Over IP (VoIP) has spurred a renewed interest in securing top-notch network administrators to assist companies in the installation and maintenance of these systems. The most sought IT professionals in this arena are those that have not only the technical schooling and knowledge, but also the real world hands on experience with local and wide area networks as well as voice and internet networking. VoIP technology overlaps these various IT realms and therefore companies want to be able to rely on an IT administrator who can effectively manage any problems that may crop up, whether it is a difficulty with the phone system, a data issue, or a network concern. IT pros that understand and can effectively address the convergence of technologies in the voice and IT networks of an organization are in high demand. Businesses also place a premium on technically well-rounded IT professionals that can clearly explain complex technical concepts to their non-techie colleagues.
Over the past few years, there has been increased interest in hiring Wireless Specialists. These skilled IT professionals are responsible for designing and managing an organization's wireless infrastructure. This means they must sift through the proliferation of new Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies to identify and recommend the best possible products to meet company needs and expectations. Keeping in mind the various types of wireless equipment being used by the company and its employees, Wireless Specialists determine efficient integration plans for all the hardware and software components. They also need to decide which networking protocols are most appropriate to utilize as well as the security measures that must be implemented. IT pros in the wireless field are always challenged with balancing the conflicting demands of budgetary cost considerations with the desired flexibility and usability of the technology.
To be successful in this role, it is helpful to have general understanding of network operating systems, desktop application solutions, network protocols and server technology. Some helpful certifications to have are CWNA, CWSP, and Wireless#.
In 2009, Gartner Research predicts a 25% increase in sales of Smartphone models, such as Blackberries and iPhones. In spite of the recessionary spending constraints, the use of Smartphones has surged. And this trend is expected to continue. Currently Smartphones only account for a quarter of the total cell phone shipments in the U.S., but as the desire to stay digitally connected continues to rise, increase in Smartphone usage will undoubtedly follow suit. The adoption of Smartphones isn't purely business related; consumers see them as the ultimate tool to stay in touch with family and friends.
This occurrence has bolstered the need for IT professionals who are proficient at creating and adapting applications for mobile use. Users are seeking faster, richer more comprehensive mobile experiences in both their business and personal use. Therefore, companies are scrambling to find talented tech pros that can help them cash in on this trend. Developers who have the IT skills to create smarter, more intuitive interfaces with ample computing power that provide value, utility and/or fun are highly valued in today's job market.
One of the most consistently in demand roles in the technology job market is that of IT project managers. The need for IT professionals in this realm has remained steady for the past five years. As businesses continue to integrate technology into more aspects of their organizations, they are realizing the value of having a dedicated, proficient IT project managers to oversee their various tech endeavors. Doing so can help keep costs in check, as one of the main responsibilities of IT project managers is to run herd over the budget of their assigned ventures.
However, competition for these roles is high. With much at stake, companies are not shying away from replacing IT pros that bring in projects over budget or fail to meet crucial quality checkpoints or time deadlines. Only those IT pros that are truly proficient at managing all aspects of the project life cycle and have a significant amount of proven experience in-the-trenches are being considered for open job requirements.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|