Despite ominous predictions about how cloud computing will eviscerate IT departments, 2012 is shaping up to be a great year for IT careers.
The proliferation of smartphones and tablets has ignited demand for software developers. The IT job market, which experienced a strong rebound in 2011 after the recession, is expected to burn even brighter in 2012, despite global economic challenges.
Therefore, the job opportunities and earning potential aren’t centered solely in Silicon Valley or in the USA. Many companies are vying for IT talent. Here are the six IT jobs that staffing experts say will be in greatest demand and will command the highest salaries in 2012.
1. Mobile Application Developers
IT professionals who can develop applications for mobile devices are hands down the hottest commodity in IT these days. IT staffing experts agree that this group will remain in this enviable position through 2012, as companies race to adapt their Websites and apps for smartphones and tablets.
Demand for mobile application developers is obvious on Dice.com, where job postings for Android and iPhone developers are up 129 and 190 percent, respectively, over last year, according to Hill.
The technology division of staffing firm Robert Half International projects starting salaries for mobile application developers to increase 9.1 percent in 2012, to a range of $85,000 to $122,500 per year.
However, mobile game developers tend to prefer to work as free agents. On average, an Android developer can demand $70 per hour to $100 per hour on a contract.
It’s never a bad time to be a software developer, especially right now, and if you’re a mobile software developer, it’s your year.
2. Software Developers
Programmers writing PC-based applications should not feel slighted by their mobile counterparts. Companies need their share of Java, .NET, C#, SharePoint, and Web application developers. Java is hot because it’s an open platform that speaks to any back-end system, so large organizations use it to transfer data from legacy systems.
The salary range for Java developers runs from $60,000 to $150,000 per year, depending on experience. The average contract rate for Java developers is $90 per hour. Base salaries for Web developers range from $61,250 to $99,250 per year, according to Robert Half.
3. User Experience Designers
Because so many of the apps companies are developing – whether for PCs or mobile devices – are customer facing, they need user interface or user experience designers to ensure the apps are fun and intuitive to use.
If you are a professional in this field, your starting salaries can rise 6.7 percent, to between $71,750 and $104,000 per year.
4. IT Security Professionals
Organizations surely need IT professionals who can fend off malware makers and cyber thieves. Job ads on Dice.com for various “cyber security” professionals increased a whopping 141 percent in 2011 over the prior year.
Organizations’ shift to cloud computing is also spurring the need for infrastructure security professionals.
Application security specialists – people who run application scanners through individual Web pages in search of vulnerabilities – will have a good year for finding jobs in 2012. Base salaries for data security analysts rise six percent, to a range of $89,000 to $121,500 per year.
5. Data Warehouse Architects, Analysts and Developers
Companies’ desire to extract insights from the petabytes of data streaming into their back office systems is driving demand for data warehouse architects, analysts and developers. They will help companies clean and organize their data better.
Base salaries for data warehouse analysts to climb 6.7 percent, to a range of $88,000 to $119,000 per year in 2012.
Data warehouse developers command average salaries in the range of $120,000 to $135,000 per year or contract rates ranging from $65 to $85 per hour.
Data warehouse architects can earn $130,000 to $160,000 per year or $80 (or more, depending on experience) per hour on contract.
6. Infrastructure Professionals
Cloud computing has yet to eliminate IT infrastructure jobs. Now and through 2012, cloud computing is creating demand for network engineers and systems administrators.
Companies are seeking IT professionals who can set up and manage virtual server and virtual storage environments, who can identify which applications are used the most, and who know how to reallocate hard drive storage among those various applications.
The move to Windows 7 is necessitating infrastructure upgrades for some companies, while others eye opportunities to consolidate their data centers and move applications to the cloud. In the short term, IT departments need infrastructure professionals who can help them plan and execute upgrades and consolidation initiatives.
Network engineers should see their salaries rise 5.8 percent due to increased demand in 2012, to a range of $75,000 to $107,750 per year.