Are you ready for a big change? The 2018 job market for technology professionals could be significantly different from any year in recent history, according to David Foote, chief analyst of Foote Partners LLC.
“2018 will be a foundational year,” Foote explained. “While the talent market will continue to be strong, companies are preparing for a tidal wave of disruptive technologies that will change the way businesses run, as well as the demand for technology professionals and the salaries they command.”
To help you ride the crest of the wave, Foote reviewed his predictions from last year and referenced data from the firm’s “IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index” to forecast the roles and key skills that will increase in value (as well as those that might lose ground) in the coming year:
Jobs Trending Upward
Professionals in these jobs should expect rising or stable demand (and higher pay) in 2018.
Foote predicted that 2017 would prove another strong year for cybersecurity professionals. Was he right? Let’s just say that the results speak for themselves. Through October, nine of the top 20 highest-paying certifications tracked by Foote Partners were in the cybersecurity category, with specialists earning average salaries of $100,188 nationally.
Foote foresees even stronger demand in 2018 as companies wrestle with new threats, governance and risk-management issues, as well as strategies for securing an IoT infrastructure.
If you’re interested in breaking into the cybersecurity realm, explore some of the strongest-performing certifications, which include cybersecurity, forensics, architecture, penetration testing, perimeter protection and enterprise defense, software life cycle, wireless, security analysis and secure software programming.
The cash premiums that employers are willing to pay for all 128 certified and noncertified Big Data skills tracked by Foote Partners increased 3.3 percent in market value over the past 12 months. Foote projects continued growth over the next two to three years, as businesses will need additional help to manage and analyze the high volume of data coming from Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
UX/UI designers with e-commerce experience, as well as tech pros with user acceptance testing (UAT) experience, will be in high demand over the next two years as online shopping continues to take a bigger slice of the retail pie.
The advent of IoT will spark demand for a variety of engineers and designers, data scientists, cybersecurity experts, business analysts and more; but professionals will need broad skillsets outside of their own areas of expertise to cash in.
“Many employers have started cross-skilling programs for software developers and hardware developers, and they will also be looking to hire professionals who can connect the ‘I’ with the ‘T,”’ Foote explained.
For example, hardware engineers could advance their careers in this segment by studying C and C++, in order to better understand the “full stack” of hardware and software that go into IoT products. According to Foote Partners’ surveys, some of the most sought-after IoT skills include device management/MEMS, wireless communications, integration & gateways, Big Data, predictive analytics, security, BI, UX/UI, artificial intelligence (A.I.) and DevOps.
Foote believes that 2018 will mark the true beginning of broader demand for specific Blockchain skills, and exacerbate shortages of developers (and especially architects) who can design and build Blockchain operating models. As validation, Foote noted that pay premiums for Blockchain pros averaged 15 percent of base salary through October 1.
Blockchain skills are in short supply; therefore, best bests for tech pros looking to gain entry into this niche include:
- Ethereum’s smart contracts platform
- Cryptocurrency platforms. Filecoin (for storage); SparkleCOIN; Bitcoin
- Smart contract programming languages: Solidity, LLL, Serpent
- Java, C++, Go and Python with experience programming on a Blockchain platform
Jobs Trending Downward
Tech pros in these roles could face headwinds or even experience a decline in market value in 2018.
Siloed Systems and Network Admins
The popularity of cloud and DevOps has hampered career opportunities for these professionals; and in some cases, has even made them expendable.
Dedicated Hardware Engineers
Hardware engineers will need cross-training in software engineering to have job security in the future.
Jobs Staying Even
Demand and pay will hold steady for professionals in these roles.
Foote predicted big things for professionals in DevOps-related positions in 2017. As it turned out, the market value for DevOps pros remained flat for the first nine months of the year. However, the news isn’t all bad: mid-level DevOps engineers are earning average salaries of $102,330 nationally, and as much as $130,479 depending on the city. Senior-level engineers are earning $98,867 to $147,604.
“DevOps is off the hot list when it comes to experiencing big gains in market value,” Foote explained. “It’s not that DevOps is going away, it’s just that the supply of talent has caught up with demand.”
Application Developers in a Microservices Architecture Environment
While employers are currently paying an average premium equivalent of 16 percent of base salary to these developers, demand has leveled off; Foote expects their value to hold steady or possibly decline next year.
Help Desk Tier Two and Tier Three
Foote predicted rising demand for help desk pros in 2017. Although companies boosted hiring and will continue to add staff in 2018, pay will hold steady or may even decrease in the coming year. Currently, average salaries for mid-level pros range from $45,126 to $66,390, depending on the city.