Good news, job seekers: IT certifications are hot again

The torrid pace of job growth in IT may (or may not) be slowing. But employers are definitely paying more for the right skills

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IT jobs are still plentiful, despite reduced need for "core IT"
I'm something of a numbers geek, but I won't inflict too much of that on you. One reason we see a lot of difference in reports on the strength of the job market is that the Bureau of Labor Statistics is rather stubborn about how to define information technology.

When you ask BLS about what's happening in IT, it shows you stats from a group called "computer systems design and related services." That group covers much of the traditional core of IT, including software development, designing and integrating computer systems, and on-site management of systems for clients. For that group, the number of "core IT" jobs expected to be available in 2014 is smaller than in 2013.

It's a handy number (in fact, I used it last week to analyze the growing percentage of women hires in IT), but it doesn't include, for example, people who work for Intel. That's because Intel is a manufacturing company, and its employees fall into a separate category. It also appears that the BLS doesn't count many people in computer-related jobs that fall outside of those traditional definitions yet work in technology-dependent sectors like finance, argues Foote.

Using the BLS's narrow definition of IT, we see that a little less than 40,000 jobs have been created so far this year, compared to 85,000 last year, and 90,000 in 2011. The last few months have been particularly anemic -- the market actually shrank a bit in September, though some of the slowdown is likely due to the two-week government shutdown in October.

But when looking at IT more broadly, as Foote does, the picture is different: He sees a net gain of 10,400 jobs in October alone. "The truth is that shifts in IT roles and responsibilities have shaken the foundation of what it means to be an IT professional, and this has had a profound impact on the IT skills market. Employers continue to aggressively pursue workers with multiple talents mixing technology, domain, business, process, and people skills," writes Foote.

I often use the number of jobs listed on Dice.com, one of the largest tech job boards, to get a sense of the tech employment picture. Dice has been advertising an average of nearly 83,000 positions all year, about half of which are full-time, and 35 percent are posted by employers seeking contractors. Most of those positions stay on the board for about 14 days, says Dice spokeswoman Jennifer Bewley.

Dice is showing no slowdown, the BLS views a reduction, and Foote is seeing growth. I'm not qualified to critique the methodologies behind these differing numbers. Though Foote may cast his net too widely, it's not likely that he's completely wrong, and given the Dice numbers, I think we're looking at a very healthy job market for skilled IT hands.

Even if the BLS is right that growth in the IT job market is slowing, there's still plenty of opportunity if you have the right skills -- and certs.

I welcome your comments, tips, and suggestions. Post them here (Add a comment) so that all our readers can share them, or reach me at bill@billsnyder.biz. Follow me on Twitter at BSnyderSF.

This article, "Good news, job seekers: IT certifications are hot again," was originally published by InfoWorld.com. Read more of Bill Snyder's Tech's Bottom Line blog and follow the latest technology business developments at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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