Federal IT Hiring Looks Bright in Washington DC

What’s New This Quarter

Concern about an aging federal workforce may have alleviated a bit in October, when data released by the Office of Personnel Management showed that 16 percent of government workers are indeed “Millennial” (born after 1980), and those 336,000 employees have an interest in IT. In fact, IT management is one of the top 10 occupations for Millennials in government, with 7,657 of them holding IT management jobs.

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What will these IT-centric Millennials work on over the next several years? We got some clues in November, when details of the classified statement of work from the Defense Intelligence Agency on its planned Data Science, Operations, Requirements, and Exploitation (DORE) began to leak out. DORE is the follow-up to the current Science, Technology, Acquisition, Requirements, Testing, and Exploitation (Start-X), a $500 million contract vehicle for experts in data science, sensor technology, technical intelligence disciplines, programming, and more for the DIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology. DORE will have a $350 million ceiling over five years. The leaked details suggested that the DIA needs experts in Hadoop, cloud technology, machine learning, ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) processes and applications, and data visualization. Also of interest: the Internet of things, social media, and open-source support. Contract awards will be made in April.

December’s compromise budget bill included provisions that would speed up the Department of Homeland Security’s hiring of cybersecurity professionals and allow DHS to pay them more. The bill would help DHS hire cybersecurity experts equal to those at the Defense Department and the National Security Agency. Like many federal agencies, DHS has trouble competing for IT talent not only with the private sector, but also with other federal agencies.

In the District of Columbia and surrounding areas, the private sector has been struggling a bit. In October, Sprint cut 235 employees from its IT, portfolio management, and network operations in Reston and Herndon, Virginia. (Those cuts came about a week after Sprint dismissed 452 employees from its Overland Park, Kansas headquarters.) Around the same time, D.C.-based coupon site LivingSocial announced a plan to reduce its workforce by about 20 percent in what CEO Gautam Thakar called a “refounding” of the company. Those layoffs will impact 100 of LivingSocial’s 500 local employees.

Despite those cuts, some experts remain optimistic about the area’s job prospects. “The Washington, D.C. area continues to offer many opportunities for talented IT professionals,” said Chris Brinkman, Washington, D.C. regional vice president of IT recruiting firm Robert Half Technology. “Advertising and marketing firms, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations are seeking talented developers, as well as network and business intelligence professionals, to take on crucial roles.”

If you want a hint about where to apply for a job, try IT firm OBXtek, located in Tysons Corner, Virginia. According to the Washington Business Journal, it’s the fastest-growing firm in the area, with revenues up an impressive 198.2 percent this year.

Skills in Demand

Despite D.C.’s large government workforce, its current IT needs mirror those of the private sector of most major metro areas. Experts cite a need for Network Engineers, Web Developers (Java, .NET), IT Security, and Help Desk/Desktop Support professionals. Web and Network Security experts, Ruby on Rails experts, and Cloud Engineers are also in demand.

Sixty percent of Washington, D.C., technology executives surveyed by firm Robert Half Technology said that network administration is among the skill sets in greatest demand within their IT departments. Windows administration and database management followed, each with 55 percent, and desktop support with 52 percent.

According to IT recruiting firm Mondo’s 2014-2015 Salary Guide, the top three skills currently in demand in Washington are application and software development, e-commerce, and database management.

Salary Trends

According to the 2014-2013 Dice Salary Survey, the average salary for a Washington-based IT professional is $97,588, unchanged from the previous year and a healthy 11 percent above the national average of $87,811.

Leading Industries

  • Government
  • Defense Contracting
  • Outsourced Government Services
  • Banking
  • Healthcare

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3 Responses to “Federal IT Hiring Looks Bright in Washington DC”

  1. I’m afraid I don’t have much good to say about federal IT hiring. Since I graduated in 2006 with an MS in Computer Science (also have a BS in Computer Science), I have a huge student-loan debt and no employment, aside from a couple of poor temp-jobs. I went to a seminar at my university that was held at the university’s federal job’s fair. Supposedly, all you needed was your bachelor’s degree and be a warm body, and you could get a federal job, since the majority of the workforce was made up of baby-boomers that would need to retire someday. Also, we were given guidelines in how to use the USA Jobs website, which was supposed to be THE central repository for all federal jobs, regardless of agency. When I talked to various agencies that were present at the fair, I was told that older workers were welcome (I am perhaps the last of the baby-boomers).

    Scouring the USA Jobs web site, about the only IT jobs I ever see on a nationwide basis is for different isolated federal workplaces to need one computer tech here and another one there, but I don’t see any huge hiring ever being posted.

    In 2001 when the towers came down, one of the things it was determined was that different agencies i.e. CIA and FBI were not sharing their intelligence info with each other. To ‘fix’ that, we got the new department of Homeland Security (which also was formed to oversee the border and the new TSA) and was to be the umbrella agency for ALL the US Intelligence agencies. Therefore, I fail to see why there is any ‘competition’ for IT workers between intelligence agencies. Since all these agencies are under Homeland Security, then Homeland Security should be hiring the workers, keeping them in some pool on standby, and activating them as the NSA, FBI, CIA, Secret Service, IRS, or Treasury department, or (insert your favorite 3-letter acronym) needs someone. Except that obviously none of them are hiring, or I would have been snatched-up YEARS ago.

    There current vetting system brought them people like Snowden, for what that’s worth!