5 Industries Desperate for Tech Pros


You don’t have to join a high-profile social media company or a sexy tech startup to score a bigger paycheck: Firms in the following industries are not only actively hiring tech pros… they pay a whole lot better than you might think.

Consumer Packaged Goods

Companies that make consumable goods such as food and beverages, clothing and cleaning products have had a very good run, but they’ve been slow to embrace new technology, explained Kanak Rajan, a Chicago-based compensation consultant with global consulting firm Mercer.

“Now, they’re facing increased pressure from shareholders to find the next great thing,” he said.

That pressure is pushing legacy CPG companies into data modeling, predictive analytics, mobile and RFID technologies—and the throes of a severe talent shortage. They’ve had to boost compensation to attract a new generation of tech talent. For example, food and beverage made the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) list of top-paying industries for project managers, with an average annual salary of $105,000.

High-Value Professional Services

Within the professional services industry, there’s a unique group of firms typically far more profitable than their peers. These high-value practices might offer accounting, legal or advertising services, but they have one thing in common: little tolerance for mediocrity.

“Professional service firms that are highly profitable are willing to pay more to attract high caliber people,” Rajan said. Legal services constitute the fifth-highest paying industry for project managers, with a median salary of $113,000, according to PMI. Of course, you better bring your “A” game and be willing to trade work-life balance for a higher salary.

Energy and Utilities

Utility companies face an aging workforce and infrastructure, as well as pressure to limit rate increases, so they’re replacing outmoded legacy systems and boosting compensation in order to attract a new breed of tech professionals and leaders with fresh ideas.

Utilities and energy was the fourth highest paying industry in Dice’s 2014 Tech Salary Survey, with an average annual salary of $97,161. Tired of skimpy raises? Energy and utility companies planned to offer average raises of 3.5 percent, which was the largest base salary increase in Mercer’s annual survey (PDF).

“Before you write off a gas or electric company as a dinosaur, remember that most utilities still provide lucrative benefits including traditional pension plans,” Rajan said. “A utility can be a very attractive option especially for mid-career IT professionals.”

Agriculture and Mining

Have you heard of agribots, precision agriculture, crop sensors or bioinformatics? The agriculture industry is in the midst of a technological revolution. Agricultural companies are using sensors to enable real-time traceability and diagnosis of crop, livestock and farm machine states. Meanwhile, the market for electric and hybrid vehicles for construction, agriculture and mining is projected to reach $30 billion by 2025.

The onslaught of projects has made this the second-highest-paying industry for project managers, according to PMI, with a median annual salary of $122,000. And the average starting salary for new grads with bachelor’s degrees entering the mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction industry in 2014 was $97,100, according to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (PDF). Data analysts, software and hardware specialists, and other tech-centric professionals could all succeed in a variety of roles.

Niche Financial Services

Forget working for the big retail banks; if you want to increase the size of your paycheck, follow the real money into a specialized financial services company.

Niche players desperately need cybersecurity experts, data analysts and a variety of front- and back-end Web professionals to empower the development of new products. Examples of niche firms include private equity banks, equipment leasing, options trading firms, advisory and asset-management entities.

“A niche firm offers value-add services that support the financial services industry in a particular city,” Rajan explained. “For instance, if you want to work on Wall Street, go for a job in a boutique investment bank or small advisory firm where they’re willing to pay more to top talent.”

8 Responses to “5 Industries Desperate for Tech Pros”

  1. Ishan

    Mr. VR :

    H1Bs cost “”Less”” to Whom ? Fat Cat US Corporations ONLY!!

    They are HORRIBLY EXPENSIVE to American Society killing prospects of Local US Citizens for Good Jobs, Home Ownership and Good Life In General !!
    I have seen so-called highly skilled H1Bs whose verbal and written communication skills are PATHETIC !! And 98% of H1Bs in IT DO NOT have anything beyond a Bachelor’s Degree and in most cases those Degrees are from some crappy colleges ‘selling’ college admission for money in India !!
    Since US Senate and Congress is sold out to parasites aka Lobbyists in Washington — this crap is going on since last 15+ years !!
    You also know this very well but dare to justify this crap as you are the beneficiary of this Govt. Authorized Scam !!
    Hope this brings some ‘Enlightenment’ to you !!
    – Ishan Shah

  2. Scott

    Joe, Southern California Edison isn’t the only utility company nor the only industry pulling this “maneuver”. And almost all are doing it for the very reason that VR says.

    A frustrating and discouraging state of affairs for mid-level and late-level career people who want a little security and a safe landing spot prior to an uncertain retirement.

  3. Lex Mercatoria


    Southern California Edison jettisoned their employees for the same reason why a previous employer’s service contract wasn’t renewed. The client’s VP told our VP we were doing a great job but said (quoting verbatim): “the only thing we give a damn about is price!”

    All this talk about not finding enough qualified workers, etc., is industry propaganda. The confusion clears up when you realize the definition of the term “qualified” in the “C” suite mafia’s lexicon differs from the vernacular. While Americans are “experientially” qualified (know their stuff) we’re not “fiscally” qualified because, in our arrogance and impudence, we have the unmitigated gall to demand more than burger-flipping wages.

    On a related note: do you think management believes the 25 year old foreigners they import by the cargo tanker-load actually have the 7 years ERP/insert-any-other-technology-here experience the latter claim? That management isn’t aware their resumes are worthy of the Pulitzer prize in literary fiction?

    Corporate America knows the truth but they Just. Don’t. Care.

    By now they may be aware using foreigners will later blow up in their faces but figure (a) we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it, (b) that will be the next guy’s problem, and most importantly (c) using foreign “resources” looks good on a spreadsheet NOW.

  4. alboy5

    Patents not education drive the economy. Hiring H1Bs doesn’t matter because those jobs do not contribute to the economy those are just drone jobs. Patent start your own corporation and hire H1Bs. Our government is a joke and gives away drone jobs leaving American hacks helpless.

  5. Ishan Shah

    I don’t disagree with you – I was simply answering Joe’s question.

    P&L – H1B’s cost the companies less money in the short-term, and “fat cat corporations” will look at the bottom line 99.9% of the time, without looking at the big picture. If companies are truly seeking long-term gains, they will make the proper investments in infrastructure and top talent, but if they’re looking for the cheapest players they are part of the “trivial many” which are involved in standard churn-and-burn practices.

    Again, I’m simply stating an obvious truth – no need to take it so personally. I never said I agreed with it.

  6. Joel Mikuta

    Carnival dumped their US tech workers a few years ago, after a bean counter was promoted to the president. I was under the obviously false impression that H1B workers can only be used if no qualified domestic worker can be found for the job – NOT for flat out replacing them in their own cubicles by foreign workers. Does anyone know what the actual H1B law is? Are these corporations potentially liable for violations? If there is a lawyer out there reading this, you could potentially have thousands signing up for class action lawsuits, assuming these is a basis for litigation. For many of these large corporations, they are practicing Darwinism in action. The skilled US workers will most likely go to the smaller competition. The US workers have INGENUITY. The foreign workers couln’t innovate their way out of a paper bag. What great inventions have come from India? Can you name one? Their society stresses conformity, not individuality and free thinking. Starved of innovative talent, many of these large companies will fall behind and lose market share. The market is and will be the great equalizer in the end.