The buzz surrounding data analytics won't subside any time soon and companies will continue to need employees who can find business value in massive data stores. Data analyst ranked fourth in Dice.com's survey, appearing in the top five for the first time, said Hill, adding that the category grew 335 percent compared to last year.
At Bluewolf, Berridge has seen a consistent demand for business intelligence and database workers, but hasn't been asked for employees with big data backgrounds. Still, he won't rule out future needs in that regard.
"That may change as some of those big data products become more prevalent," he said. "There is certainly a lot of talk around big data."
Such products, according to Boone, will come via cloud computing, which allows data to flow freely and cheaply. This translates into a need for workers who can connect, study and move data. The need for data workers will be so acute that he recommends new IT workers consider careers in big data and forgo jobs supporting legacy software packages, like CRM (customer relationship management) systems.
"I'd focus on how do I become very adept at moving data around, how to organize databases, how to analyze and make sense of big data, and how to make data available on mobile devices."
Software support positions will decrease with more companies turning to SaaS models for application maintenance and customization, he said.
Berridge also sees IT departments needing more employees with specific backgrounds, with fewer support and maintenance positions as cloud vendors handle those tasks.
"If you truly go with a cloud-based approach you decrease your need for meat-and-potato skills sets," he said. "Newer technologies come with a self-service approach when it comes to user support. The shift is moving toward innovation and away from how to keep the lights on."
Hiring professionals mentioned software development as another in-demand profession for 2013, but cautioned against being a one-dimensional developer. Failing to collaborate and an inability to think with a business mindset won't win over hiring managers.
"If your only skill is to develop code and you don't have the ability to work in a team environment there's a great risk that your skill set can be outsourced," said Berridge. "They have to think as business people. There's a commodity approach to how some organizations treat software development."
Developers with Java and .Net backgrounds will be especially sought after, according to Dice.com's survey, which ranked finding staff who know those languages as enterprises' first and third staffing priorities, respectively. Overall software development came in fifth.