ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, May 7, 2019
ACM CareerNews is intended as an objective career news digest for busy IT professionals. Views expressed are not necessarily those of ACM. To send comments, please write to [email protected]
Volume 15, Issue 9, May 7, 2019
According to a study by Hired.com, which analyzed data from more than 69,000 job seekers, the average tech worker makes $135,000 a year. Not all tech jobs come with such large salaries, but there are a few key roles that increase the overall average, offering annual pay as high as $163,000 a year. Although software engineers and software development engineers are the roles most sought-after by employers, they are not the most financially rewarding. Instead, roles such as information security engineer, technical program manager and DevOps engineer paid tech workers the most for their skills.
The role of technical program manager, with an average salary of $145,000, ranks as one of the highest-paying tech jobs. These managers are responsible for handling all aspects of a technical project for a company. That means they need to initiate the program, track its progress, and provide support if issues arise. They typically coordinate efforts among their own workers and outside vendors, set schedules and timelines for both workers and the project, and ensure deadlines are met. Software architect, with an average salary of $145,400, also ranked highly. Similar to the role of enterprise architect, this tech roles functions as a software developer who makes high-level design decisions and is responsible for thinking through all aspects and potential pitfalls of a software. They may also set the technical standards for an organization, from the coding languages used to tools and other platforms needed.
Blockchain professionals remain in high demand, especially for staff and middle manager positions, according to a new job market report from Janco Associates. With 20,600 new IT jobs created in the first three months of 2019, the market is facing an imbalance of supply and demand. As a result of this skills shortage, some projects are missing key early benchmark dates due to lack of staffing. Many blockchain and ERP positions remain unfilled and, in fact, some organizations are seeing an increase in attrition rates for those positions as skilled workers are being poached away by competitors.
Companies that have hired blockchain professionals are also experiencing higher attrition rates as consulting firms and services companies are actively recruiting IT professionals in those roles by offering higher salaries and benefits. Salaries for blockchain developers range from $119,000 to $176,000, according to several job search sites. By comparison, software engineers earn an average of $137,000. Based on monthly discussions with CIOs and recruiters, the growing consensus is that it is becoming more difficult to find qualified individuals. Everyone is concerned that individuals who are qualified will remain with them for some time. The IT skills shortage is not limited to blockchain professionals as programmers and business analysts are also in high demand.
Software engineers are one of the hottest jobs on the market, dominating nearly every list of the most in-demand jobs of 2019. However, in order to land a job as a software engineer, you still need to keep your skills up to date. When searching for software engineers, hiring managers are looking for a specific and impressive skill set that starts with programming language experience. The good news, though, is that there are four proven strategies employees can use to keep their skills fresh in order to keep up with rapidly changing technologies.
The most important career-enhancing strategy, say hiring managers, is simply practicing to keep your skills up to date. About 70 percent of developers spend at least five hours a week on their own time writing code, primarily to keep their skills sharp. If employees are concerned about losing certain skills, or being replaced by a new hire with newer skills, then they should take it upon themselves to stay updated. Continue practicing the skills you currently have, and try out new skills. Employees can also take a more academic approach to keeping skills up to date. Online services like Udemy are great resources for learning new coding languages and skills. With modern day technology, it is very easy for developers to learn skills online on their own time. The difficulty comes with finding the time to sit down and use those resources independently. When employees are on the job, many forms of training and skill-building services (both self-paced and classroom-based) can also be used.
Advance Your Career With Artificial Intelligence Knowledge
Information Week, April 26
According to a recent report from market intelligence firm Tractica, organizations are realizing that implementing AI solutions requires highly-trained IT professionals who can offer services ranging from AI training to installation and support. As of right now, IT pros work with products and services that already have AI technology under the hood, but they do not need to know how it works. However, in the future, it will be in their best interests to know how to install, customize, integrate, deploy and support AI-based tech. This is opening up new opportunities for IT professionals to advance their careers with AI knowledge.
Organizations need to develop a deep bench of IT talent in order to benefit from new AI technologies. Significant time, resources, and capital usually must be deployed, and in most cases, internal company teams are not experienced enough with AI, nor do they have the cutting-edge data science skills, to adequately embark upon a truly transformational AI implementation journey. For IT pros looking to expand their knowledge about AI or to move their careers forward by shifting to an AI consulting role, training will be critical to a successful career move. Training, certifications, and degrees in this field are available in a variety of options ranging from classroom experiences to online courses. Adding one of these items to your resume can go a long way to increase your opportunity to get into the AI services field.
Three Tips For Maximizing Your Career As An International Software Developer
Forbes, April 16
There are three key strategies that international software developers can use to optimize their career trajectories. One of the most important strategies is to find a mentor. If you do not already have a senior coder that can take you under their wing and mentor you, search out new opportunities and work for someone that can. This is by far the single biggest difference between developers who simply survive from paycheck to paycheck and those that continue to increase their opportunities until they decide to retire.
One tip for maximizing your career opportunities is to use IT outsourcing as a stepping stone, not a career destination. In emerging economies, working for an IT outsourcer can be a great place to learn basic skills and get exposure to live commercial projects, but you may not want to think of this as a long-term career prospect. That is because IT outsourcer culture can be one of employment arbitrage and not innovation, and learning to think like an innovator can widen your career opportunities greatly. A 2016 Deloitte survey indicated that only 21 percent of enterprise outsourcing contracts had any real innovation built into their service contracts. Obviously many innovations come from startups, so working on a startup project could be great exposure to innovation culture and give you the opportunity to put your own unique ideas into production code. IT outsourcers (especially large ones) tend to work on legacy projects and in legacy programming languages. This can severely limit the types of jobs you can get in the future and deprive you of the experience to learn new technologies or frameworks.
Rooting Out the Digital Skills Crisis
CIO.com, April 10
While more and more jobs are being lost to intelligent automation, emerging technologies are also creating new roles that are going unfilled because of a perceived IT skills shortage. Since those jobs originate in technology, it is easy to assume STEM talent must fill them. This thinking is aggravating a shortage of STEM skills, convincing many tech employers that they are facing a real talent crisis. While it is true that technology skills of the past were primarily programming-focused and required STEM education, digital skills are much more pervasive in the business world today. Thus, it is possible to prepare talent from a variety of disciplines for these jobs of the future. Enterprises must play a lead role in embracing workforce transformation to tide over the talent crisis.
With tech roles growing exponentially within companies, it is unrealistic to think graduates with four-year degrees can fill all of the open positions. These same jobs can be performed by non-degree holding workers with specialized skills nurtured through alternative education paths, including coding camps, online certification classes, training during employment and other types of vocational skilling. Community colleges are another great source of raw talent. These new workers will likely be individuals with backgrounds in diverse disciplines, with perspectives useful for tackling business challenges from every conceivable angle. What is required of talent these days is a mix of technical skills and soft skills. These skills are not dependent on a college major, but on an ability to learn and operate with a set of continually improving contemporary skills.
LinkedIn Study: 70 Percent of Employees Feel Stressed Out at Work
Inc.com, April 30
According to a new LinkedIn survey, nearly half of employees report feeling stressed at work. When asked about the cause of this stress, 70 percent of people mentioned the current state of their work-life balance. This is probably a surprise to no one. Even when we are not physically at work, we are never far from the workplace. Thanks to our mobile devices and overflowing inboxes, there always seems to be more work to do. In order to cut down on workplace stress and improve your work-life balance, experts recommend finding new time management hacks that can help you to reclaim some of your time and improve your overall work-life balance.
Part of the stress about your work-life balance might be coming from wasted time, so it is important to understand where your time is going. Get a notebook. Carry it with you everywhere for a week. Write down every 30-minute increment of time. You might be surprised where your time is going. You might be wasting more of it than you realized. Also, if you want to be able to prioritize your time, get used to saying no. If you are a top performer, chances are people have noticed. They want more of your time and your brilliant brain. They ask you to do more and more. It is flattering to be in demand. But if you said yes to every favor or last-minute request at work, you would have no time left to focus on what you really need to do. Remember, every time you say yes to something, you say no to something else.
4 Signs You Are Expert Enough to Launch an IT Consulting Business
Entrepreneur.com, May 3
Deciding to launch a new consulting business has never been easier. While you do not need a lifetime of experience to start a successful and helpful consulting business, many people cut themselves off from this opportunity simply because they do not feel that they are enough of an expert in their preferred consulting niche. In reality, while some level of experience is necessary, you do not need to have an advanced degree or 20 years of industry experience to make it as a consultant. In fact, if you have a constant desire to learn more and work on different types of projects and have had some initial success in your field, there is a good chance you already have everything you need to be a success.
One sign that it might be time to launch a consulting business is if you prefer working on a different project each day in the workplace. For most 9-to-5 employees, the routine stays relatively the same day after day. Even when individual projects change, you are still dealing with the same basic products or services, the same target audience and the same goals. The best consultants crave the possibility of doing something different each day and working with new clients who each have unique challenges. They want to challenge themselves with new experiences. Ultimately, they want to be problem solvers who find new solutions each day.
Countering the Negative Image of Women in Computing
Communications of the ACM, May 2019
Despite increased knowledge about gender inequality in the tech industry, women in STEM disciplines are still portrayed in stereotypical ways in the popular media. Based on a review of academic research, along with analysis of mainstream media depictions of women in STEM and computing-related fields, it is clear that more still needs to be done to make women feel more accepted within the computing industry. The personality and identity formation of women continues to be influenced by the personas and stereotypes associated with role images seen in the media. This, in turn, can lead to the underrepresentation of women in the computing industry, as well as diminished prospects for advancement in computing fields.
Recent popular media attention has begun to focus on the lack of gender and ethnic diversity in Silicon Valley. While tech companies have spent millions of dollars to recruit and improve the workplace environment and conditions for women, little has changed for women in tech, even today. Women and ethnic minorities are abandoning tech careers for a range of different reasons, including an unwelcoming culture, hostile workplace conditions, lack of access to leadership roles, and biases. And even when women are able to succeed in these less than ideal conditions, they are often held to different standards than men. Computing awards and recognitions often seem to focus on technical skills. Such acknowledgments in the media often function as an unofficial recruitment policy, influencing academic and career choices.
Quantum Hype and Quantum Skepticism
Communications of the ACM, May 2019
While the popular media regularly reports on the remarkable advances in quantum computing, the physical realization of quantum computing has been a difficult process. A Canadian company, D-Wave Systems, has claimed to be the first company in the world to sell computers that exploit quantum effects in their operation. But the D-Wave machine is far from being a general quantum computer, and several researchers disagree with the claims of the company. In fact, several quantum computing researchers have expressed skepticism regarding the physical possibility of the quantum computing dream. Quantum skeptics agree that quantum computation does offer an exponential advantage of classical computation in theory, but they argue it is not physically possible to build scalable quantum computers.
A recent U.S. National Academies report reviewed current progress and prospects of quantum computing, taking a level-headed view of the field. Given the current state of quantum computing and the significant challenges that still must be overcome, the report argues it is highly unlikely a quantum computer that can compromise public key cryptography will be built within the next decade. Yet, because replacing an established Internet protocol generally takes over a decade, work to develop and deploy algorithms that are resilient against an attack by a quantum computer is critical now, the report advised. The report identified major challenges that lie ahead for quantum computing. The report stated the need to correct the errors in a quantum system, without which it is unlikely that a highly complex quantum program would ever run correctly on the system.
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