News Column

What does IT mean? It means: 'It's Time!'

January 15, 2014

Candace Moody

Information Technology is back. After the dot-com bubble burst in the 1990s, highly paid IT workers grew discouraged when startups failed, employment prospects dried up and salaries plunged. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, IT job creation is on a strong upward trajectory. Local experts agree that it's a great time to get into a technical career.

Garth Camara is a regional vice president for Robert Half Technology; he oversees offices in Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville. Today, Camara estimates that the company has about 100 IT professionals on contract in North Florida.

Camara says that the hottest IT skills now are in mobile- application development. Candidates with these skills are on the market only a matter of days before they are snapped up by employers. The next biggest demand is for "big data" workers: database administrators and network administrators. Information Technology workers can expect to see salaries grow by five percent in 2014. Jacksonville IT workers earn about 93.5 percent of the national average in salaries, according to Camara, and can expect slightly lower salary growth in 2014 (about 4 percent).

Camara says that people moving into IT often start by earning help-desk-technician certification, which can be completed in seven to nine months. Technology salaries, even for entry-level workers, are attractive. Tier One help-desk technicians can expect to earn a starting salary of $33,000 to $44,000, according to Robert Half's salary projections for 2014. Many IT workers work on a project or contract basis, partly because the industry needs change so quickly.

Brian Knight is the founder of Pragmatic Works, a company based in Middleburg that trains developers and provides tools to support database administrators. He says that IT is red hot right now, with unemployment for skilled workers at less than 1 percent.

You'll be more marketable in IT if you can leverage your previous experience in your new career. For example, if you've managed budgets and have extensive business experience, you might consider a Project Manager certification or technology sales. Knight says that business experience gives you an advantage in the industry. "Someone who can speak the language of the customer and the IT staff will be invaluable to any company."

If you're looking into training, Knight recommends a "boot camp"- style program that lets you work on actual projects rather than focusing on theory. Nothing builds confidence and skills like getting your hands dirty (relatively speaking), he said.

"The interesting thing about IT is that there's a new wave of innovation that hits us about every 18 months," he said. "That means that a new skill set will be in demand and workers who have - or develop - those skills will be snapped up quickly.

"Eighteen months ago, the demand was for data mining; today, 'big data' and mobile applications are what's hot. It's a great time to get into IT; lots of things are happening, and it feels a little like the early dot-com days."

We're in another bubble, but a smarter one, with sustainable business models and a consumer market that has almost constant access to broadband. Big data means big opportunity if you're wired that way.


For more stories covering the world of technology, please see HispanicBusiness' Tech Channel



Source: Florida Times Union


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