By the Numbers: IT Hiring Trends

by Jim Staats | Sep 16, 2011

Today’s IT professional should be excused for feeling a strong sense of whiplash.

One industry study might offer evidence of an uptick in IT hiring trends only to be followed by another forecasting lowered expectations for job-hunting technicians. These days, it seems, all it takes to get six different opinions on the IT job market is to read six different reports on the industry.

Who or what do you trust?

Here we are past the midpoint of 2011 and still unsure which hiring outlook has it right. Sometimes, as with most everything in this industry, it helps to look at the numbers.

Two in five IT employers in the U.S., more than 40 percent, planned to increase its full-time staff in 2001, according to a national IT hiring poll of 170 such employers conducted by CareerBuilder at the end of 2010. That figure is a bump up from the 32 percent who said the same thing the previous year. Sixty-six percent of those polled planned to increase pay for existing staff in 2011.

The CareerBuilder survey indicated a third of IT employers with open positions couldn’t find qualified candidates. An interesting disconnect considering the large quantity of IT pros out of work. Nearly half of the respondents in this survey planned to hire contract or freelance workers in 2011, a slight uptick from the year before. Nearly the same percentage of those surveyed planned to hire temporary workers on a full-time basis this year.

U.S. IT unemployment fell to 4.5 percent in the first quarter of 2011, a significant dip from the 5.3 percent average of the previous eight quarters, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as reported in InformationWeek.

Using new IT job categories used for the 2010 U.S. census, this report shows 3.8 million people employed in U.S. IT jobs. The report breaks down these jobs into the following categories:

  • Software developers: 25%
  • Computer and information systems managers: 15%
  • Computer support specialists: 13%
  • Computer programmers: 12%
  • Computer systems analysts: 11%
  • Computer occupations, all other: 6%
  • Network and computer systems administrators: 6%
  • Web developers: 4%
  • Database administrators: 4%
  • Computer network architects: 2%
  • Information security analysts: 1%
  • Computer and information research scientists: 0.5%

U.S. IT employment has yet to reach its 2008 peak when about 4.1 million people held jobs in IT. There is progress, just snail-like in its movement.

The 2011 InformationWeek Analytics Salary Survey reported median raises of 2 percent for IT managers and 1 percent for IT staffers this year. Not much, but something when compared with last year’s median raise: zero.

A quick search on global job site, Indeed, indicates more than 856,000 IT-related job openings at this very moment.

What helps earn you a shot at one of those openings?

According to the Employer Perceptions of IT Training and Certifications report conducted by CompTIA earlier this year, being properly validated by a third party is a big plus.

IT certifications are considered a priority by 86 percent of IT hiring managers during the evaluation process, according to report findings. The report also notes that IT certifications are considered valuable in validating skills and experience by 64 percent of IT hiring managers.

Eight in 10 human resources professionals believe IT certifications will grow in usefulness and importance over the next year, according to report findings.

Top benefits of such certifications for employers, according to the report, are an ability to understand new or complex technologies, higher productivity and more insightful problem solving.

Whew, that’s a lot of numbers. Does this help clear things up for IT job-seekers? Probably not. But it might at least give people a few more facts and figures to build upon. Now take care of that sore neck.

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