The IT job market is a gloomy place right now. There’s no denying it. Job listings are down and even many fully employed IT staffers are feeling insecure.
IT salary levels are squeezed along with companies’ bottom lines. Foote Partners, an IT analyst firm, found that in Q2 pay premiums for non-certified and certified IT skills fell an average of 0.6% and 1.5%, respectively. That’s a steep decline in a single quarter.
The tough conditions make the question that much more compelling: what IT skills are most in demand?
- Below you’ll see a list of “hot” IT skills, regardless of certification. On the next page is a list of “hot” IT certifications.
- On page three is a list of IT certifications that are rising in value. On page four are IT certifications that are falling in value.
For those optimistic types determined to find a ray of light amid the darkness, some IT skills are maintaining their value – very much so, in fact.
The following lists of “hot” IT skills – very much in demand by employers – is based on Foote Partners’ survey of nearly 2,000 U.S. and Canadian employers.
Top 15 “Hot” IT Skills, Non-Certified, July 2009:
1) Java EE, SE, ME
3) Virtualization (all)
4) Microsoft .NET
5) NetWeaver (SAP)
7) Business process management/modeling/improvement
8) SAP SM (Service Management)
(IDS/IPS, forensics, identity/access management, compliance, firewalls, threat/vulnerability assessement and management, cncryption, data loss prevention, incident analysis and handling, and security architecture)
10) SAN (storage area networking)
12) SAP PS (Project Systems)
13) SAP HCM (SAP HR)
14) SAP FI (Financial Accounting)
15) SAP CO (Controlling)
The above list of hot IT skills reveals interesting trends. Despite naysayers like the anti-Java professor, Java is on fire – as Web 2.0 expands in a hurry, Java developers and expertise seems to grow more needed all the time.
It’s no surprise that Linux and Virtualization are near the top: both help companies cut costs. It’s reasonable to expect both skill sets to stay in demand in the years ahead.
Note the wild popularity of SAP. David Foote, Foote Partners’ CEO, explains that 48,000 businesses worldwide use SAP, and that demand for this skill set remains very healthy as SAP has moved into the smaller business market.
The following list of top IT certifications is based on Foote Partners’ survey of nearly 2,000 U.S. and Canadian employers.
Top 15 “Hot” IT Certifications, July 2009:
1) GIAC Certified Incident Handler
2) EMC Proven Professional Technology Architect – Expert
3) Citrix Certified Integration Architect
4) HP/Master Accredited Systems Engineer
5) Cisco Certified Security Professional
6) Check Point Certified Master Architect
7) GIAC Certified Forensics Analyst
8) GIAC Certified Intrusion Analyst
9) EMC Proven Professional Implementation Engineer – Expert
10) GIAC Certified Incident Manager
11) EC-Council/Certified Hacking Forensics Investigator
12) IBM Certified Specialist – Storage Networking Solutions, Version 2
13) HP/Accredited Integration Specialist
14) Brocade Certified Fabric Designer
15) Cisco IP Telephony Design Specialist
David Foote notes that – in particular – security certifications pay is rising. Also enjoying salary bumps are architecture and selected infrastructure skills.
He’s hearing of interest in what he calls “Guerilla SOA.” That is, “more like grass roots, bottom up, rather than top down.”
In a tough economy, traditional ‘top down’ Service Oriented Architecture is a hard sell. Indeed, “no one can sell it,” Foote says.
Terry Erdle, the senior VP of skills certification at CompTIA, also says that security certifications are sought after among employers. Project management is another hot area.
CompTIA’s top selling certification is called CompTIA A+. It’s a set of technician, PC repair, and help desk skills.
It’s Tier 1 support for the enterprise or a small company. “We do probably 100,000 certifications a year in A+, or more – that’s probably U.S,” he says. “It’s a very good entry level certification.”
So what’s big in IT certification these days?
“One of the emerging trends is being able to verify and validate your credentials across all vendors,” Erdle says.
“So what you’re going to see more and more is vendors working together to standardize a lot of these road maps.
“…there’s a lot of consistency and standardization that you’re starting to see.
Because I think [the problem with] everyone doing their own certification for their own product line is A) it doesn’t really help people except in working on that one set of products, and B) the standards bodies of the world are starting to look more and more askance at a company that does its own training and its own certification.”
Foote echoes this thought by noting that vendor-specific IT certifications are notoriously easy.
Companies want to pump out as many of them as possible for marketing and sales purposes. Simply having a pulse is enough to pass certain vendor-specific IT certification tests, or at least that’s the perception.