These positions are in high demand and will be strategically significant to companies’ digital transformation efforts, according to IDC/Cisco report.
Because technology changes so rapidly, IT workers face a difficult balancing act when making their career plans. On the one hand, they need to consider which roles hiring managers are looking to fill today. On the other, they also need to think ahead to the jobs that will likely become more important in the future and make sure that they are developing the right skills to maintain their employability over the long term.
To make that planning a little easier, IDC and Cisco have released a report, "20 Most Significant IT Roles You Should Consider." Based on an analysis of nearly two million IT job postings and a global survey of IT hiring managers, the report highlights the intersection between jobs that are most in-demand -- those that have a lot of openings and are hard to fill, leading to higher salaries -- and those that are most important -- roles that will be strategically significant to a company’s future success.
According to the report, many of the most significant IT roles are directly related to organizations’ plans for digital transformation, and they revolve around trends like cybersecurity, the internet of things artificial intelligence, cloud computing, virtualization, and converged infrastructure.
A separate report from Gartner echoes some of the IDC/Cisco report’s findings, noting that companies need to have the right people in place if they are going to overcome challenges associated with digital transformation. In particular, the firm said it “has identified a looming talent gap for key technology skills in artificial intelligence, digital security and the internet of things.”
Many of the job roles necessary for digital transformation pertain to IT infrastructure. The following slides detail eight of these job titles, including average salaries, and the outlook for each.
Security management specialist
The IDC/Cisco report listed security management specialists as No. 1 on its list of hot jobs worldwide, and it was also first on the list for hot jobs in North America. The report rates this role’s future importance as very high and its long-term growth as high.
Security management specialists are highly skilled IT professionals who assess an organization’s security posture, design systems and processes to improve security, and oversee day-to-day security operations. They generally need knowledge of hardware, networking and software, as well as people management skills.
According to the Robert Half 2018 Technology and IT Salary Guide, the median salary for information systems security managers in the U.S. is $137,000, with those in the 25th percentile making $115,250 and those in the 95 percentile earning $194,250.
Network engineers and architects ranked second worldwide and thirteenth in North America in the IDC/Cisco analysis of most significant jobs. Worldwide, this role’s future importance is high. However, long-term growth prospects are low. IT leaders polled by IDC said that while the job role is very important for the future of their companies, they don't think that there will be a lot of new jobs created in the field.
People who fill this role are generally responsible for designing and setting up networks, including LANs, WANs, intranets, and external connections. They may also have some security-related responsibilities. Most job candidates have a bachelor’s degree or higher, as well as relevant certifications.
The Robert Half salary guide says that network architects have salaries ranging from $112,750 to $190,00, with a midpoint of $134,000. The network engineer title pays somewhat less: $90,000 to $151,750 with a median of $107,000.
Cyber/information security engineer/analyst
Like the No. 1 spot on the list, the third position in the IDC/Cisco worldwide hot jobs report went to a security function: cyber/information security engineer/analyst. The position is even more important within North America, where it placed second. According to the report, the future importance and long-term growth for this role are high.
With data breaches showing up in news headlines so frequently, many organizations are more concerned than ever about IT security. These professionals are on the front lines of identifying, preventing, and mitigating cyberattacks.
Robert Half breaks out these job roles slightly differently in its salary survey. It reports that data security analysts earn between $102,000 and $171,500 per year, with a median salary of $121,000. Network security engineers make $97,000 to $163,000, with a median of $115,000.
The internet of things plays a key role in many organizations’ digital transformation plans, and accordingly, many are looking to hire IT professionals with IoT skills. The IDC/Cisco report placed this role fourth on its worldwide hot jobs list and third in North America. It ranks both its future importance and long-term growth as high.
Professionals with the IoT designer/developer/engineer job title are responsible for designing and implementing IoT projects. They need a solid understanding of IoT hardware and networking, as well as knowledge of the software that will run on IoT devices and analyze collected data.
The Robert Half report doesn’t break out salaries for IoT professionals. However, Indeed.com says that over the past 36 months, salaries for job postings that included the word IoT range from $57,541 to $143,310.
With enterprises focused so intently on digital transformation, it’s no surprise that many are hiring consultants to assist with their transformation projects. Transformation consultants ranked ninth on the worldwide list of hot jobs and sixteenth in North America. Worldwide, the long-term growth prospects for this role are moderate.
Transformation consultants have a wide variety of different skillsets, but in general, most have shepherded at least one other company through a digital transformation project. That might include selecting appropriate IT infrastructure and software as well as designing new business processes.
According to Robert Half, staff consultants can earn between $60,250 and $126,750 with someone in the 50th percentile making $75,000. Senior consultants make significantly more: $96,000 to $162,000 with a median of $114,000.
Network and systems administrators have been around for as long as there have been computers and networks, but that doesn’t mean the role is becoming less important. As they undertake digital transformation projects, enterprises will rely even more heavily on these workers who handle day-to-day maintenance activities.
Worldwide, this role ranked 14th on the list of most significant IT roles, and in North America it was all the way up at number seven. The IDC/Cisco report ranked long-term growth as low for this field, but noted that the role could have medium importance worldwide.
In the U.S., network administrators earn annual salaries of $73,250 to $123,250 with a midpoint of $87,000, based on Robert Half data. Sysadmins are toward the lower end of the IT pay scale, bringing home $67,250 to $113,500 with a midpoint of $80,000.
Systems analysts ranked 15th worldwide and 13th in North America on the IDC/Cisco hot jobs report. Future importance and long-term growth prospects are somewhat lower for this job role than for others that made the list, but it still ranks among the most significant roles.
Typically, analysts review IT hardware and software and make recommendations for optimizing performance. They may recommend new hardware or software for purchase, tweak existing systems, or offer suggestions for improving IT operations.
The Robert Half salary guide suggests that systems analysts can expect median annual salaries of $91,000 in the U.S. with a range of $76,750 to $129,000.
Computer support specialist
While they are generally considered the lowest workers on the IT totem pole, computer support specialists will remain important as organizations undergo digital transformation. The IDC/Cisco report ranked this role 17th most significant worldwide and 16th in North America. However, future importance and long-term growth are on the low side. Some experts predict that needs for this type of worker could diminish in coming years as AI systems and chatbots take over some of the work.
Computer support specialists field calls from end users and help them solve any issues they are experiencing. They need solid knowledge about hardware, software and networking, as well as good communications skills.
This entry-level job role is among the lowest-paid in IT. According to Robert Half, tier 1 help desk technicians -- those who field the easiest calls -- make between $32,000 and $54,000 per year. Those who progress up to tier 3 and field the most difficult calls can expect salaries between $48,500 and $81,500.