Struggling to find a job in IT in and around your home city or suburb? Consider a move to Jonesboro, Ark., Sebeka, Minn., or Macon, Mo. These locales might not jump out as being hotbeds of technology development or home to a large number of businesses or government agencies. But they are places where a growing number of technology workers are settling in order to find jobs in their field.
The source of these jobs is rural outsourcing companies, "onshore" IT service providers that market their offerings to clients as an alternative to offshoring or keeping IT functions in-house. Because some or all of their facilities are located in lower-cost areas in the United States, these companies can keep fees relatively low for their clients.
Before you plan your move to the country, though, consider that working in a rural area could mean significant lifestyle changes, particularly if you're accustomed to the city lights. And though the cost of, for example, real estate and health insurance premiums will likely be lower, not everything is less expensive. The lower salary that comes with a rural IT job could mean having to make sacrifices.
Still, if you like the rural life; are looking to start, advance, or wind down your career in IT; and don't mind relocating, joining an onshore outsourcing IT firm might present a good opportunity. And these options appear to be growing: "We are seeing an increase in open IT positions in rural markets," says Rachel Russell, marketing director at TekSystems, a technology staffing firm. Indeed, onshore outsourcing companies such as Onshore Technology Services, Rural Sourcing, Rural America OnShore Sourcing, and CrossUSA tell InfoWorld.com that they're hiring people in several IT disciplines.
Adjusting to the rural life
Moving to a rural area of the country is clearly not for everyone. While securing a solid job in IT is a good reason to relocate in general, for someone who has grown up in a city, the culture shock of rural life might outweigh the benefits of landing a technology job.
Individuals and families will be forced to make cultural adjustments going from city or suburb to rural. "This is a huge deal," says David Foote, CEO of Foote Partners, a research firm that follows IT hiring trends. "Rural can be politically, intellectually, and culturally very different. I realize that is a matter of personal choice, but it can be a difficult situation when a spouse or partner does not like the rural environment or if the IT professionals finds it lacking."
Some who took the leap have had to adjust. Software engineer Dora Eitel worked as a branch manager at a financial company before joining Onshore Technology Services in Macon, Mo., about three years ago. She now leads a team of data analysts who aggregate information and fill ad hoc requests for a financial services client.