IT Careers 2007: Networking Skills in Demand

Network administrators and analysts have bright prospects for the coming year.

 By Cynthia Harvey
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The experts have consulted their crystal balls and made their predictions about the IT job market for 2007. The consensus? This year, employers will likely be hiring more IT workers and paying their current workers a little more. The outlook is especially rosy for a few hot job titles and industries.

More Jobs for Everyone
The increase in the number of IT job openings in 2007 is part of an overall trend of employment growth. While no one believes the job market is likely to expand dramatically, a majority of experts describe the coming year’s employment outlook as “stable” or “steady” and expect moderate increases in the number of available jobs.

For example, economists at the University of Michigan’s Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics (RSQE) predict unemployment in 2007 will stay at 4.6 percent. They expect the economy to produce 1.5 million new jobs. That’s down from 1.9 million in 2006, but still represents steady growth.

In the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s fourth quarter Survey of Professional Forecasters, those surveyed made very similar predictions. They believe unemployment will rise slightly to 4.8 percent while the economy produces 119,000 jobs per month (1.4 million for the year).

Employers themselves also indicate a greater willingness to hire more workers. In a Harris Interactive Poll conducted for CareerBuilder.com, 40 percent of employers reported that they expect to increase their number of full-time employees. While many of those expect to hire only a few new workers, nearly 10 percent said that they plan to hire 500 or more new people.

"Recent reports from the U.S. Department of Labor support a sense in the market that the economy is slowing at a gradual, reasonable pace and inflation has steadied," added Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder.com. "This bodes well for job creation.”

More IT Opportunities
Just as a rising tide lifts all ships, the slow but steady economic growth will likely lead to job growth in the information technology sector. In addition, experts predict a shortage of IT workers to fill some key positions.

In a December survey by Robert Half Technology, 16 percent of CIOs reported that they plan to increase hiring, while only 2 percent said they plan to decrease their staff. That 14 percent net increase is the largest since fourth quarter of 2001, according to Robert Half figures.

The same report indicates that the sectors doing the most IT hiring are transportation and – somewhat surprisingly – manufacturing. Other hot industries for IT workers include financial and business services, insurance, technology, and healthcare.

Managers in those industries aren’t hiring just anyone, however; they’re looking for specific skills for specific job titles. While lower level IT jobs, such as help desk support, are increasingly being filled overseas, demand is up for jobs that require a higher skill level.

In the Robert Half Technology Survey, CIOs ranked Microsoft Windows Server 2002/2003 administration as the skill-set most in demand, followed by network administration and database management. That information squares neatly with the six IT job titles included the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ list of the 30 fastest growing occupations 2004-2014:

• #2 Network systems and data communications analysts (54.6 percent growth)
• #5 Computer software engineers, applications (48.4 percent growth)
• #8 Computer software engineers, systems software (43.0 percent growth)
• #11 Network and computer systems administrators (38.4 percent growth)
• #12 Database administrators (38.2 percent growth)
• #25 Computer systems analysts (31.4 percent growth)

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This article was originally published on Jan 20, 2007
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