ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, November 19, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Volume 15, Issue 22, November 19, 2019
Data science continues to be one of the hottest areas for IT employment in the United States, but the type of data job you pursue and the area in which you live could have a huge impact on your future earning potential. Recent studies of salary data for data analysts and data scientists have uncovered some significant differences in overall compensation. Overall, the average data scientist earns $121,189, while the average data analyst makes $65,364. Not surprisingly, those high data scientist salaries are attracting more job seekers than for data analyst jobs. For example, Indeed.com saw an 8 percent increase in people searching for data science jobs between 2017 and 2019, but the number of people looking for data analyst jobs decreased by about 8 percent.
Perhaps the most interesting finding in the study was the location of the top-paying jobs for each type of role. Data scientist positions pay the best in the large cities, primarily on the East and West Coast. The high cost of living in these areas means that the exceptionally high salaries do not actually go as far as they might in other parts of the country. By contrast, the best-paying data analyst positions are in the center of the country, primarily the South and the Midwest. Here, the lower cost of living means that those salaries stretch a lot further than you might expect. The difference between the top-paying data science jobs and the top-paying data analyst jobs is much closer than it appears at first glance when you factor in the cost of living.
According to federal employment data analyzed by CompTIA, U.S. companies now have approximately 918,000 unfilled IT jobs, creating many new opportunities for those looking to switch careers. Part of this has to do with companies investing more in tech to drive new business initiatives However, while job postings in the technology sector rose 32 percent in the first half of 2019 compared to the year prior, supply has not kept pace. Accounting for the 60,300 people who graduate with a computer science degree every year, the 20,000 developers who complete coding boot camps, and even maxing out the 85,000 available H-1B visas to fill tech roles with international workers, that still leaves a major gap in talent. Companies are now spending more time and resources on competitive recruiting efforts to find qualified candidates, but it is still taking companies longer than ever before to fill tech roles.
Beyond hiring and recruiting, one major way companies can bridge the tech skills shortage is to retrain current employees through internal programs. Some companies, for example, have the equivalent of apprenticeship programs for new hires and structured training programs that specialize in lateral hires. If you have the right skill set and continually invest in education and skills training, it will open up new career opportunities for you. Moreover, by networking with others at an organization where you would like to work, you may learn about other pathways and opportunities for advancement.
While a new report by the World Economic Forum predicts that technological progress and changes in demographics could lead to a loss of 5 million jobs by 2020, the good news is that many occupations in the tech sector will actually see an increase in demand. For example, the data scientist role will become increasingly important in all industries by 2020 because their primary role is to help different businesses make sense of all the data generated by automation and technological disruption. Other roles that could see a boost in demand include cyber security engineer and machine learning engineer.
Security is always at the forefront of priorities for any major tech company, so it perhaps no surprise that the cyber security engineer role is seeing a spike in demand. A breach in security could be the downfall of a business and security engineers are professionals who protect computer and network systems from potential hackers and cyber attacks. The role of machine learning engineer is also seeing a spike in popularity. Machine learning involves scaling data science algorithms to large data sets. As a machine learning engineer, you will work alongside data scientists who will define the rules of engagement when it comes to a data set and communicating insights. If you are really good at math, algorithms and problem solving this is probably the perfect career for you and it is one of the most lucrative as well.
7 Technology Jobs That Offer Solid Salaries and Growth
Dice Insights, November 12
There are a growing number of tech jobs that pay a significant salary whether or not you are working for a famous tech firm in Silicon Valley or a largely unknown one in the Midwest. In coming up with a list of well-paying tech jobs, the most valuable metric to consider is average market salary. Generally speaking, the best tech jobs pay over $85,000 per year, regardless of geographic location. However, compensation is not the only factor to keep in mind. For example, it is also important to consider factors such as projected rise in employment over the next seven years. The best tech jobs have a plentiful number of positions available right now, and they are also poised for a period of extended growth over the next decade.
Based on analysis of available compensation data, it is clear that companies are looking for technologists who can handle everything from application development to securing systems. And that, in turn, suggests that companies recognize the need for technology spending of all types. It seems clear that companies are prepared to spend as much as they can on software and infrastructure over the next several years. Companies need apps, they need someone to manage their databases and make their IT infrastructure as efficient as possible, and they need to make sure that the systems remain untouched by hackers. However, one caveat is that between 2018 and 2019, many of these jobs also saw a significant dip in mean salary. For example, software developers, information security analysts, and computer network architects all went from six-figure jobs to high-five-figure jobs.
The State of the Cybersecurity Skills Gap Heading Into 2020
Security Boulevard, November 11
Cybersecurity remains a major priority for employers facing millions of unfilled positions and a shortage of talented workers. In fact, there may be as many as 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity positions by 2021. As a result, cybersecurity professionals currently in the field are facing serious pressure and long working hours, and that is creating a new sense of urgency to narrow the skills gap. Employers are now looking at different ways to broaden the talent pool as well as invest in tools that take the pressure off their cybersecurity workers.
The cybersecurity skills gap is on the rise, according to IT professionals. When asked about the skills their organization is most likely to be missing, cybersecurity nearly always tops the list. In a survey conducted by ESG this year, 53 percent of organizations reported they were facing a cybersecurity shortage. This is 10 percent more than in 2016. In every survey between this year and 2016, the number has only trended up. There is only one real conclusion to draw from the data: there are not enough cybersecurity workers, and every year the skills gap grows worse. Despite pushes for better education and the increasing importance of cybersecurity, there are no signs it is closing or will begin to close in 2020. The number of graduates from cybersecurity programs is increasing. At the same time, the cost and frequency of cyber attacks are also rising. It may be that schools cannot keep up with the growing levels of cybercrime and the needs of companies, especially in the wake of the past few years of high-profile breaches.
4 Ways to Jump Start Your Development Career Plan
IT Pro Today, November 4
When mapping out your development career plan, there are several ways to accelerate your career growth without necessarily having to invest in more training or pay for new certifications. Obviously, being a good coder is the single most important key to success as a programmer. But there are several other moves worth making that can help propel careers in programming, especially for newer developers who are vying to gain name recognition or compile a highly compelling resume. For example, contributing to open source projects can be one important way to jump-start your development career plan and build your reputation as a developer.
The open source ecosystem may not seem like the first place to look if you are trying to get started in a programming career. After all, many contributors to open source projects work for free, and working for free may not appear to be a good use of your time if you are just starting a career. Yet, in the case of open source, it can be. Contributing to a big-name open source project is a great way to add impressive credentials to your career. And because most open source projects accept contributions from anyone as long as the contributions respond to a need for the project and are well written, the barriers for contributing are low, even if you do not have a lot of experience to boast of. Few developers straight out of college are going to get to work on well-known commercial software, but contributing to famous open source projects is a real possibility. Helping to write open source can be especially beneficial career-wise if you contribute to a project within a particular niche where you hope to get a job. For example, if you are into AI programming, contributing to an open source machine learning project could be a good way to bolster your resume.
5 Signs of a Great Hire For Agile Teams
The Enterprisers Project, November 9
Companies seeking new hires to build out their agile teams need to look not just at the hard technical skills of candidates but also the variety of soft skills that enable them to be agile. The agile workflow offers companies more flexibility for change and evolution. But in order to see benefits like these from agile, companies must ensure the candidates that they hire have a blend of both technical and soft skills in their repertoire. According to recruiters and hiring managers, there are five key traits to look for when hiring for your agile team, with the most prominent of these being data literacy.
Data literacy is becoming an invaluable skill for job candidates as companies are finally seeing the value of all the data they collect. In recent years, demand has increased for experts who bring a deeper understanding of the type of data collected and how best to translate that information into actionable change. Organizations need employees with backgrounds in statistics and who can make data-driven decisions. It is more than knowing how to read the numbers, it is also finding meaning within them. With that in mind, there is a difference between being able to use a particular suite of software and mastering it, and in the current job market just using it is not enough. It’s important to master certain software in such a way that optimizes workflow efficiencies. Some jobs today require 90-100 percent of their production to be performed at a computer. This means the work an employee produces will be a function of how effortlessly they can operate the tools they use every day.
Candidates and Managers Need HR to Accurately Price Skills
HR Dive, November 14
Being able to accurately price IT skill is central to the hiring process. This requires that HR professionals take both individual skill levels and geography into account when setting pay. It is not enough to simply pay according to a location because pay can vary by specific jobs or industries. To help organizations do this effectively, both big data and artificial intelligence could play an important complementary role. When managers understand the value of skills, they can be more transparent when talking with employees about professional growth and opportunities.
As employers move to formalize pay ranges for certain roles and skills, pay transparency has risen in popularity. According to experts, this can mean an employer encouraging workers to discuss pay information with others or an employer making public its pay bands. Some of this has been driven by outside sources. To take the guesswork out of the equation for job seekers, for example, job boards are increasingly rolling out tools like LinkedIn Salary Insights, which appear on job listings with an estimate of what a position is likely to pay.
The Size of Computing Education Today By The Numbers
Blog @ CACM, November 3
Within the computer science field, educators continue to re-think the various ways that students can be taught not just about computers, but also about computational thinking. For example, some educators are in favor of adding programming elements to popular gaming environments, while other educators are in favor of using general-purpose programming systems such as Logo, Scratch or Squeak for computer science projects. Yet, despite these efforts, the percentage of students who learn any kind of programming at all remains disappointingly small, especially in relation to the number of students who are learning other STEM subjects. Despite the best efforts of educators to experiment with new approaches, computing education is not even close to the mainstream of STEM. Educators have not yet created popular computing education and need to be doing more to reach as many students as possible.
One big takeaway lesson is that there is no computing education tool that comes anywhere close to the number of children who play Minecraft or Fortnite. Statistics show that 53 percent of children aged 6 to 8, and 68 percent of children aged 9 to 12, are actively playing Minecraft. In addition, 61 percent of U.S. teens play Fortnite, or about 9.3 million. By way of comparison, the number of Code.org students in the U.S. is 1.2 million. The good news is that, according to statistics, the total number of Scratch users in the U.S. is 19.2 million. Approximately one in three of all U.S. schoolchildren have tried Scratch. While Logo, Squeak, and other tools are popular, they are nowhere near as popular as Scratch.
When Drones Fly
Communications of the ACM, November 2019
As drones have matured into smarter and more practical machines, they are also opening up career opportunities in industries as diverse as agriculture, civil engineering, and insurance. It is now clear that autonomous drones will play a prominent role in business in the coming years, so it is up to IT job candidates to understand all the new ways that they can become involved in the field. This might include designing sophisticated on-board sensors and processors, developing better artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, designing new types of sensors, and creating more advanced controllers and communication systems.
Despite rapidly evolving capabilities, it also is clear that autonomous drones have not completely mastered the art and science of navigating and accomplishing their designated tasks. It is one thing to showcase a drone in a controlled environment, but it is quite another to have it operate flawlessly in the wild. Drones must have near-perfect vision and sensing, as well as the ability to navigate areas where satellite and communications signals cannot reach. They also need backup and fail-safe systems that can take control of the drone if or when something goes astray. The good news is that engineers and computer science professionals are making it possible for drones to understand the world around them and make complex decisions in real time.
Copyright 2019, ACM, Inc.