IT certs are back! Learn these hot skills and earn more

Security, big data, cloud architecture, and Hadoop are just some of the areas that will pay off for those with real expertise

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Skills that appeared on Foote's list for the first time include master data management, mobile operating systems, MondoDB, and NoSQL. In fact, these hot areas tend to have an even higher premium than areas with certifications: 8.84 percent versus 7.05 percent. The reason is likely that these hot, noncertified areas are newer fields, where the talent pool is smaller and for which formal certifications don't yet exist.

Tech unemployment drops, but tech workers are staying put
Employment in technology fell to its lowest point since 2007 in the first three months of 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unemployment in the tech sector through March was just 2.7 percent, compared to overall unemployment of 6.7 percent. In mid-2013, tech employment was 3.9 percent, sparking fears that the recovery in the sector was stalling, but by the end of 2013, it had dropped to 3.5 percent. (We still haven't approached the record low unemployment reached in the second quarter of 2007: 1.8 percent.)

As of the beginning of April, 80,671 tech jobs were posted on Dice, including 48,472 full-time positions, with record demand for professionals in big data, mobile, cloud computing, and security. Dice registered a record number of postings in several areas, including NoSQL (up 54 percent from the same period last year), big data (up 46 percent), Hadoop (up 43 percent), and Python (up 16 percent).

Consulting is hot as well. An analysis of the BLS data by Dice found that tech consulting added 17,200 new positions in the first quarter. "More jobs, more wages, more hours -- it's the hat trick for technology consultants," says Dice President Shavran Goli.

Tech consultants scored in the 2014 Dice Salary Survey as well. Their pay raise -- 4 percent year over year -- was bigger than that of the tech population as a whole, which saw gains of 3 percent.

Interestingly, fewer tech workers are quitting their jobs. In January and February, 451,00 employees in professional and business services left voluntarily, according to the BLS, compared to more than 500,000 the year before. What does that mean? It's not clear. It could be that employees are still not confident that the good times will last, so they're staying put. Another possibility, Goli speculates, is that employers are fighting harder to retain talent. A Dice hiring survey earlier this year found that more employees who say they are going to quit are getting counteroffers.

What's the takeaway from all this data? Times are obviously good. IT hands who hit the books and add some certs or premium skills to their résumé will do even better.

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This article, "IT certs are back! Learn these hot skills and earn more," was originally published by Read more of Bill Snyder's Tech's Bottom Line blog and follow the latest technology business developments at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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