Tech’s Winning (and Losing) Jobs in 2017

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The trends seen in the last half of 2016 will continue to influence the job market for technology professionals into the next year. Tech unemployment hit 2.9 percent in November, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which suggests that the market for tech pros remains strong heading into 2017.

Although many jobs will remain stable, major disruptors are poised to change the way businesses run, as well as the demand for technology professionals and the salaries they command, according to David Foote, chief analyst of Foote Partners LLC.

To help you plan your next career move, Foote reviewed his predictions from last year and referenced data from the firm’s “IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index” to forecast the roles that will increase in value (as well as those that might lose ground) in the coming year:

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Professionals in these jobs should expect rising or stable demand (and higher pay) in 2017:

Cybersecurity Pros

With 2016 another record-breaking year for cybersecurity fails, it’s not surprising that Foote continues to forecast strong demand for security professionals. Ten of the highest-paying certifications tracked by his firm are in the cybersecurity category.

These strong-performing certifications cover a wide range of skills, including cybersecurity, forensics, penetration testing, perimeter protection and enterprise defense, security analysis, risk and secure software programming.

However, security is no longer just for experts. Pay for noncertified skills rose 6.3 percent over the course of 2016, and Foote predicts that developers will increasingly be held accountable for insecure code in the future—making secure-development practices a valuable competency.

DevOps Pros

In late 2015, Foote predicted big things for professionals in DevOps-related positions in 2016. As it turned out, the market value for DevOps pros remained flat for the first six months of the year, only ticking upwards in the third quarter. Through October, the average value for six DevOps-related certifications had increased 7.1 percent.

Foote expects this upward trend to continue as more businesses integrate DevOps into their operations. If you want to join the movement, hot certifications include AWS Certified DevOps Engineer, as well as Red Hat training and certifications.

Big Data Specialists

All evidence indicates that the Big Data jobs machine will remain in high gear for the foreseeable future, propelled by the IoT/telematics gold rush and a host of new certifications. Market value for the 100 certified and noncertified skills tracked by Foote Partners increased 4.7 percent during 2016, including 2.1 percent in the third quarter.

“IoT/ telematics is projected to become an $11 billion market,” Foote explained. “Wearable technology will eventually catch on and industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, smart cities, energy and automotive will continue to push IoT forward.”

Application Developers in a Microservices Architecture Environment

Businesses’ need for speedy delivery of new business tools is just one of the key factors that will continue to fuel the rise and popularity of microservices (and the jobs that go with them). Microservices Architecture is currently one of the highest-paying noncertified skills tracked by Foote Partners, and the trend will endure through 2017.

Digital Product Development

Virtually every business today is involved in digital product development, which Accenture defines as the integration of data, processes, business and IT. Foote predicts that this rising field will increase the demand for product design engineers and analysts, as well as digital specialists. Indeed, pay premiums for digital development skills rose 5.2 percent in 2016, and Foote expects more jobs in this category next year.

Help Desk Tier Two and Tier Three

No, that’s not a typo. “Pay is rising due to the consumerization of technology,” Foote said. “Companies are finding that they need to add staff in order to offer customers adequate technical support.”

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Foote predicted that SAP specialists, storage gurus and network infrastructure professionals (such as network managers and systems administrators) might face career headwinds in 2016; his predictions came true. For example, SAP skills declined 8.3 percent in value over the last 12 months, and he expects the downward spiral to continue in 2017. He’s also added some new positions to his list of projected decliners.

Datacenter Roles

Now that most datacenter modernization and optimization initiatives are complete, there will be a decreased demand for storage engineers, backup and storage administrators, and datacenter security specialists.

Architects

Foote predicated that architects would be able to write their own tickets in 2016, with security, mobile cloud and software pros leading the way. However, the value for 44 certified and noncertified architecture skills unexpectedly declined 4.10 percent during 2016. What happened?

“It’s not that companies don’t value architects or need their expertise,” Foote explained. “But they’ve staffed up, which limits demand and the need to offer premium pay, at least temporarily. That’s why I’m putting architects on the list of roles that may experience flat growth and possibly a small decline in market value in 2017.”

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