By Kerry Doyle
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most recent recession began in December, 2007 and ended in June, 2009. While that may technically be true, many of the statistics that describe the current economy have yet to return to their pre-recession values. Today, a number of IT professionals question whether job stability within IT is a thing of the past, based on current trends.
Recession-proof? Recession resistant? The idea is that certain skills exist for which demand outweighs supply. Moreover, these terms attract adherents who believe that one simply needs the right combination of skills to flourish even during an economic downturn. In the area of IT, the constant innovation requires workers to not only hone specific skills, but expand their expertise to become indispensable to their employer, increase their earnings potential-and ensure their employment stability.
As the dramatic pace of change continues, the need for specialized skills grows more acute: companies have increasingly complex networks (systems analysts, programmers), more transactions to process (cybersecurity, software engineering, United Communications [UC]), and more data than ever (data analytics). A range of vertical sectors incorporate the newest technological innovations, and these include healthcare, advertising, telecommunications, gaming, and a host of other industries.
Of course, the overlap between types of in-demand skillsets (analytics, networking, security, programming, etc.) extends across every business sector. IT teams are increasingly comprised of mobile app developers (Android, Apple, Windows Phone 7), programmers with diverse language skills (Java, HTML5, Cobol, C++), engineers experienced in Web 2.0, Software as a Service (SaaS), and cloud as well as project managers, cybersecurity experts, and even User Experience (UX) designers.
As technology trends change and gain momentum, IT professionals need to remain versatile and ready to expand their expertise. That's nothing new. However, the speed of innovation and advances in everything from nanotechnology to mobilization and the cloud requires IT workers to stay ahead of the curve, especially during an economic downturn. One thing is certain: innovation won't slow down the way an economy will. In the following article, we examine recession-proof IT jobs across several industries and explore what makes them indispensable in today's economic climate.
Today, cybersecurity expertise is required at the start of most IT infrastructure projects and operations development as opposed to being applied afterwards, for example, as a perimeter defense. In addition, demand exists for developers who can build secure applications, network engineers with security certifications, and architects who understand how to secure systems and processes. Cybersecurity is an evolving trend that includes security intelligence analysts, security engineers and security architects.
The digitization of healthcare currently underway represents a true paradigm shift. As the transition to ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases) rapidly continues, those with expertise in project management, EMR/EHR (Electronic Health Records) implementation, business intelligence and analytics-all related to healthcare-are highly sought after as well as those with capabilities related to Health Informatics.
Research firm Gartner predicts 70 percent of leading global companies will have at least one "gamified" application by 2014. Knowing Ruby on Rails, Python and MSNet is a rare and highly sought-after skill along with having good, working knowledge of C++. Being on the cutting edge, honing one's creativity, attending gamers conferences and building a portfolio for display to possible employers are key ways to solidify your skills, increase your potential and be considered irreplaceable by your company.
4. Mobile Development
Essentially, the mobilization movement is well underway. Professionals who can develop for the small screen are in demand. Increasingly, companies are seeing the value of mobile development, from mobile apps that lure new customers to using mobile apps to increase sales. With that will be the upward trend of needing versatile, inventive and capable developers to help companies and clients capitalize on the mobile explosion.
5. Big Data/Analytics
When it comes to Big Data, there is a need not only for MySQL and HBase skills, but Cognos and Informatica expertise, to name a few. Data Warehouse architects and developers will be key as data counts increase while mobilization expands. Already, many companies are realizing the need for filtering through and studying data to cover a wide spectrum of uses, from target advertising to security intelligence analysis.
6. TeleCommunications & UC
While processing power and storage are key, the ability to manage and finesse intercommunication between diverse business sectors is crucial. Maintaining a high-functioning Unified Communications (IC) System ensures that a range of tools (email, handsets, fax, IM, telepresence) and the devices with which information is relayed (smartphone, tablet, desktop, laptop) are in synch. UC technicians must be adept at simultaneously maintaining a number of moving parts-having wireless, routing and networking abilities as well as PM are critical in this role.
7. Software Engineer/Developer
8. Creative Design/User Experience (UX) Designers
UX Designers are at the forefront of meshing our old network-based desktop familiarity with the mobile device experience. Companies will be expected to expand their digital presence in ways that accommodate that mobile experience. As the trend continues, the need will only increase for knowledgeable UX Designers who will be in short supply and high demand in coming quarters.
9. IT Human Resources
Whether it's gaming or datacenter networking, in order to find the best placement candidates and enact the perfect employer/employee match, capable IT-focused HR workers represent a critical component and much-needed resource for IT. Those at the cross-section of IT and HR can take advantage of a highly-specialized need in the industry.
10. Online Advertising: IT-based SEO/SEM/Social Media Specialist
Increasingly, the skillset of an SEO or SEM specialist approaches IT-level expertise. Social Media , HTML5 coding, and analytics capabilities are just some of the types of skills being applied in advertising. To reach mobile consumers easier, advertising will increasingly rely on those with more technologically capable skills.
11. Systems Analyst
Systems analysis presupposes networking capabilities related to the newest trends (e.g., virtualization, cloud, UCs). Ultimately, the more cutting-edge your systems analysis skills are, and the more knowledgeable you are in diverse datacenter approaches, the more attractive you'll appear to HR and CIOs.
In a sense, good programmers are always in demand. But mobile programming is poised to take huge strides and writing OS-specific code for Android, Apple and Windows Phone 7, among others, is in great demand. While some older programming languages are being phased out, even programs that were written in Cobol a relatively long time ago still need to be maintained.