Skilled Tech Pros Can Be Choosy About Jobs in 2011

Don Tennant
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13 of Today's Hottest Tech Skills

Highlights of the most in-demand skills and their growth over the past year.

A new report released by IT employment services provider Dice.com suggests that tech workers have every reason to be optimistic about the job outlook for 2011. For many it might mean relocating to a different area or acquiring new skills. But the fact is tens of thousands of jobs are open and waiting to be filled, and those numbers are expected to go even higher in the coming year.

 

I spoke last week with Dice Senior Vice President Tom Silver, who noted that the tech unemployment rate, currently at 5.3 percent according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, continues to be significantly lower than the overall unemployment rate. While he noted that that's still a high number if you're among that 5.3 percent, overall, the outlook is positive.

What we're hearing from employers is their budgets are growing, so the outlook for skilled tech pros in improving. Large corporations tended to lag a little bit in 2010. A lot of the hiring was driven by small- to mid-size corporations, and big companies are a little bit slower. What we're hearing from our customers today, particularly our larger ones, is that they may jump back a little more aggressively in 2011 than they did in 2010. I think that bodes well for tech pros, and I do believe that that unemployed number will improve over the course of the year.

Tech job postings on Dice are growing at 40 percent year over year, and some skills categories are growing at over twice that rate. Not surprisingly, the skills area that's growing the fastest is cloud computing, which is up nearly 300 percent to 1,300 job listings. Silver noted that even with that exponential growth, the demand for cloud computing skills won't approach that for high-demand skills like Java programming, HTML and Oracle database expertise in the foreseeable future. But he said the cloud phenomenon is clearly having an impact on the tech job market:

I think what happens with something like this is it typically starts with a company's IT department. Generally it's a CIO or CTO who realizes that they've got to put more data up in the cloud-that tends to be where data management initiatives start. Oftentimes [they turn to] a vendor or a consulting firm, because that's the way a company can get the quickest jump on it. Then as companies realize they need to develop the expertise in-house, that typically will follow. The IT managers and directors will look for individuals within their departments to help manage it and learn the new skill set. We've always been a big believer that there's no substitute for on-the-job experience. And as tech workers see their companies moving more and more data to the cloud, I would suggest that they go in and raise their hand, and suggest that they want to learn the skills and do whatever they can to become familiar with cloud management.

Location, meanwhile, also continues to be key. Here is Dice's list of the top 10 tech metro areas, with the number of tech job openings in each as of Jan. 3:

 

  1. Washington/Baltimore 8,978
  2. New York/New Jersey 7,734
  3. Silicon Valley 3,974
  4. Chicago 2,937
  5. Los Angeles 2,757
  6. Boston 2,404
  7. Atlanta 2,342
  8. Seattle 2,229
  9. Dallas 2,182
  10. Philadelphia 1,721


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