Good News, Bad News on IT Job Outlook

Ann All

When it comes to hiring plans, any upward movement is good news. So it's not surprising that a new CareerBuilder survey indicating 20 percent of companies plan to hire folks for permanent, full-time jobs in the coming year, a jump from 14 percent this year, is being hailed as great news. Not only that, but just 9 percent of companies plan to cut jobs in 2010, down from 16 percent in 2009.


IT employers lead the way, with 32 percent of them planning to add new jobs in 2010, followed by 27 percent of manufacturing employers and 23 percent of financial services employers. Growth will be a bit slower for professional and business services (22 percent), sales (21 percent), health care (21 percent), transportation (18 percent) and retail (15 percent).


A more nuanced view of the CareerBuilder data, though, shows that 29 percent of employers plan to offer higher salaries to incoming employees next year, a drop from 33 percent in 2009. While 57 percent of companies will probably raise pay for existing workers, that's a drop from 65 percent in 2009. Thirty-seven percent of companies intend to trim benefits and perks for workers, including bonuses, medical coverage, retirement matching payments and "office perks such as coffee, tea and condiments."


It's not clear if flat salaries and reductions in benefits will prompt IT professionals to seek new work in a still-uncertain economy. As I wrote in October, some IT industry observers including Foote Partners CEO David Foote think it's a good possibility.


Several IT positions are among those that staffing specialist Robert Half International predicts will enjoy higher-than-average salary gains in 2010. They are:

  • Network administrator. Robert Half says newer technologies such as cloud computing, voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) and software as a service (SaaS) have made the network admin's job more complex and demanding, which should translate into higher pay. Starting salary: $54,500 to $80,250. (From the glass-half-empty perspective, a move to the cloud could also mean the loss of some data-center jobs including server administrators and database administrators.)
  • Information systems security manager. Protecting corporate data is also becoming a bigger challenge, so companies are willing to reward folks that can do it. Starting salaries range from $96,500 to $130,750.
  • Systems engineer. These folks are VIPs for their ability to build and maintain technical support for a variety of new projects. Entry salary: $64,250 to $93,250.


Not surprisingly, there's a healthy overlap with IT jobs that ranked in the top 10 of CNNMoney's 50 best jobs in America, which was published in October.

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