ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, December 17, 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

Volume 15, Issue 24, December 17, 2019

The Top 15 Emerging Jobs of 2020
Quartz, December 10

In its third annual U.S. emerging jobs report, LinkedIn has identified the 15 fastest-growing jobs, as well as the skills and cities most associated with them. In 2019, the company found that the number of artificial intelligence and data science roles continued to expand across nearly every industry. For the first time, robotics has made an appearance on the list, and at least five roles in the ranking involve engineering. One interesting finding from the report is that mid-size U.S. metropolitan areas such as Austin, Raleigh-Durham and Pittsburgh are continuing to attract tech talent thanks in part to lower costs of living and increased remote-work opportunities.

Artificial intelligence specialist, which ranked highest on the list, is currently experiencing an annual growth rate of 74 percent. Skills unique to the job include machine learning, deep learning, TensorFlow, Python and natural language processing. Primarily, these jobs are located in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Boston, Seattle and Los Angeles. Also scoring highly was robotics engineer, with an annual growth rate of 40%. These jobs can be found in the San Francisco Bay Area, Atlanta, New York City, Washington D.C., and Boston. Top industries hiring this talent include information technology and services, industrial automation, computer software, financial services and automotive.

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For IT Pros, Adding Blockchain Skills Can Pad Your Paycheck
Computerworld, December 9

For IT professionals looking to increase the size of their average paycheck, blockchain skills may be the way to go, according to a new report from Foote Partners. The market value for IT workers with blockchain skills increased by 6.3 percent in the six months through the end of September and by 13.3 percent for the full year. According to the Foote Partners research, companies are willing to pay a premium above salary for Ethereum skills and a market basket of other blockchain skills. The market value increase is different from additional pay offered for blockchain skills. For example, the average pay premium for blockchain skills is actually 17 percent above base salary.

Since blockchain technology is in high demand, skills shortages will continue for blockchain developers, especially for the architects, project managers, and quality engineers who can design, build, and test blockchain operating models. Understanding how blockchain integrates with artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and IoT is seen largely as a plus for technologists at the moment. But it will be a requirement in the future as these other technologies mature and adoption rates increase. Salaries for blockchain developer or engineer positions are high, with median salaries in the U.S. hovering around $130,000 a year. That compares to general software developers, whose annual median pay is $105,000. People with experience with specific blockchain iterations such as Solidity and Hyperledger Composer are in even higher demand and that demand is increasing steadily. Universities are some of the best places to learn blockchain skills, though there are online courses available from vendors as well.

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The Hottest Job of This Year Involves Artificial Intelligence
Fortune, December 10

Artificial intelligence specialist is now the fastest growing U.S. job in terms of number of hires. On LinkedIn, hiring activity for A.I. has grown 74 percent annually over the past four years. In 2018, blockchain developer was the fastest growing U.S. job, so the latest data from LinkedIn suggests that hiring priorities of organizations have shifted from blockchain to AI over the past 12 months.

A.I. specialist is an evolution of other machine-learning and data-crunching job titles that have topped the list previously. Although A.I. specialists may share some traits with data scientists, the work of data scientists involves a wider set of statistical or data visualizations tools versus just machine learning software. The top metropolitan areas where A.I. specialists are in demand include the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Boston, Seattle, and Los Angeles. Computer software, Internet, information technology, higher education, and consumer electronics are the industries with the highest demand. The most common jobs that A.I. specialists held prior to identifying themselves with the title include software engineer, data scientist, research assistant, and data engineer.

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For Tech Jobs, the Rich Cities Are Getting Richer
WIRED, December 9

Despite hand-wringing over Silicon Valley losing its luster with new tech recruits, the role of the Bay Area as a major tech hub continues to grow in scale and importance. The region, in addition to a few other coastal tech hubs, is responsible for a greater share of high-tech jobs than ever before. Only a handful of smaller tech hubs are pulling away from the rest, taking the highest-paying jobs and new investment opportunities with them.

Researchers from the Brookings Institution and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a tech-industry-backed think tank, arrived at their conclusion by looking at 13 industries that involve the highest rate of research and development spending and STEM degrees per worker. That includes much of the software industry, as well as jobs in areas like pharmaceuticals and aerospace. The researchers found that, between 2005 and 2017, five metro areas (San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, and Boston) not only added lots of jobs, they were also becoming more dominant in those industries overall. Judging by total job gains, other large metros like Austin and New York appear to be doing just fine, as are many smaller cities. By looking at a broader set of innovation industries, or more narrowly at just software, a different set of cities join the ranks of the successful.

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5 IT Career Tips From Pros Who Know
Information Week, December 5

Learning from the experience of other IT professionals can save you time and money as you work to get to the next phase of your career as an IT professional. Maybe you are just getting started in your IT career and looking for the best approach to take to gain experience quickly and advance. Or maybe you already have spent a few years or even a few decades in IT, but you feel a little stuck in your current role or position, even as the tech space is expanding and your peers seem to be moving ahead. With that in mind, several IT professionals and industry leaders provide their top advice for the New Year for other IT pros just getting started or in a mid-career state of limbo.

Technology is a field that is always changing, and the change is coming faster than it ever has before. With that kind of acceleration, along with the fact that technology is becoming intrinsic to every part of the business or organization, it is important to develop a mindset that you need to always be learning. It is not just four years of university knowledge. You have to really want to search for new knowledge throughout your career. Whether it is learning about new technologies like AI and machine learning, or a programming language like Python, or a new way to deploy your infrastructure such as hybrid cloud, learning about these new technologies will keep you and your skills fresh for the changing market. There are so many new ways to learn new skills, too. You could sign up for a boot camp, take an online course, study for a particular certification or take advantage of vendor-provided training. You just need to make the commitment to invest in yourself.

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The 20 Best Ways to Boost Your Career By 2020
Forbes, December 2

There are at least 20 different ways to improve your career before the new decade begins, all without spending any of your own money. First and most importantly, you need to get your career story straight. Everyone has a unique story, but not everyone leverages its power. Properly crafted, your career story helps to differentiate you from your competitors, highlight your value, and draw others to you. It provides a common thread that weaves together your personal and professional experiences, as well as your transferable skills, making it easy for others to connect the dots.

One way of advancing your career in 2020 is by finding new ways to share your accumulated wisdom within the workplace. Wisdom is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight. But it transforms into something truly powerful when it is shared. Yet many leaders ignore this and choose instead to hoard their insights, fearful of giving them away. They do not understand a simple truth: sharing your wisdom does not diminish your impact; it amplifies it. And today, the best way to magnify your message is to harness the power and reach of social media. If you want to grow your career, you need to learn to say no to almost everything and everyone that does not excite you, speak to your values, further your mission in life, or help you achieve your goals.

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What To Do If You Are Struggling to Find the Perfect Job Candidate, December 9

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 700,000 unfilled IT jobs in the United States. Partly that is because over 60 percent of entry-level jobs require more than three years of experience. The resulting experience inflation creates a vicious circle: New college graduates need experience in order to get hired, but without getting hired, they cannot get the experience necessary to qualify. To address that problem, some organizations are hiring STEM grads that are struggling to land their first gig, identifying the gaps on their resumes, and then connecting them with technology and IT organizations so they can gain work experience.

Many highly talented applicants get bounced out of the hiring process simply because they do not have the requisite experience. It is up to organizations to identify those individuals, hire them directly, and get them up to speed. Training programs play a big role in helping these candidates acquire the right experience. Mentoring is also crucial, and can help them navigate workplace dynamics or develop any other skills they need. There are also nonprofit organizations that can help companies find the talent they need while helping job candidates launch new careers. This arrangement can be financially attractive for companies because the average consultant often makes twice as much as an employee hired to fill a role directly.

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Is It Time To Reconsider IT Career Paths?
Information Week, December 11

Industry research into the workforce reveals that younger workers do not necessarily prefer a traditional management path for their careers. Instead, they value continuous training and development, work-life balance, and a sense of purpose in the work that they do. For IT leadership, it means finding new ways to retain valuable contributors on their staff . The best solutions reward them with growth, earning and advancement opportunities so they do not move on to somewhere else. The key, however, is balancing these solutions so that they do not significantly impact the organizational structure of your IT department.

One relatively new IT career path is the Chief Data Officer position. As the data science and analytics discipline has grown in IT, statistical and scientific backgrounds with data have also established themselves as mission-critical IT skills needs. Data science is one of the areas where IT pays top dollar for experts who are not managers, and most companies have defined new career paths and reward structures in order to retain these key personnel. Similar advancement paths are still needed for non-management experts in applications, systems, networks and databases. To create career paths for highly skilled technical personnel who do not want management roles, IT departments are creating new upper echelon non-management roles. The move toward formalizing career paths for technical personnel acknowledges the importance of tech-savvy individuals as key IT influencers and technology shapers. New non-management positions that are being adopted in IT organizations include R&D Director, Chief Technology Officer, Chief Strategy Officer, Principal Data Scientist and Chief Security Officer.

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Monetization of Knowledge: A New Way For Online Learning?
eLearn Magazine, November 2019

In China, a modern educational innovation has become popular in recent years and offers an innovative and convenient form of adult lifelong learning. This innovation is known as the monetization of knowledge (MOK). This refers to selling personal knowledge as products or services in order to achieve its commercial value. Different from traditional online courses, which have formal syllabi and are delivered by college professors, MOK courses do not have syllabi and are often developed and facilitated by ordinary people. These everyday people share knowledge in their fields and monetize this expertise via online MOK platforms. Since most MOK platforms are easily accessible anytime and anywhere, this convenient approach to knowledge is responsible for attracting vast audiences, especially Chinese white-collar workers.

In addition to the development of technology that makes it convenient for individuals to access information online, the rise of MOK also fulfills a social need particularly among the middle class. One 2017 report found that the average MOK user has an undergraduate degree, is between 25 to 35 years old, and is in the middle-income brackets of society. According to the report, several factors have influenced the rise of MOK courses among this population. First, white-collar workers often use smartphones to obtain information. Thus, the easiest and fastest method of gaining this desired knowledge through the platforms of MOK attracts them to purchase courses. Moreover, the perceived need to learn new skills and the fear of being left behind by peers serve as motivators to pay for courses on MOK platforms. Thus, peer pressure and anxiety influence the middle-class on purchasing courses, especially those related to starting a business or enhancing their competitiveness in the workplace.

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Anticipating Adverse Effects of Technology on Human Cognition
Ubiquity, November 2019

As technology seamlessly integrates itself into our everyday lives, it is changing the way we think in the workplace. There is, understandably, growing interest in using technology to augment human capabilities, both to address any specific impairments brought on by new technologies and to simply extend or enhance our senses and natural abilities. For example, Dr. Sarah Clinch, a computer science researcher and lecturer at the University of Manchester, has recently begun to explore the effects of technology on human cognition and mental health, with a particular interest in memory and forgetting. In an interview, she discusses the potential for technologies such as smartphones, social networks and wearables to reduce or alter our inherent cognitive abilities.

The ubiquity of the smartphone has led researchers to begin exploring its impact on our attention and cognition. It has been suggested that even when turned off, our mobiles continue to consume our attention and cognitive resources. Likewise, the impact of search engines, Internet knowledge banks, and social media have become targets for research. It could be the case that individuals reduce cognitive effort and retain less in circumstances where a computer can store information for them. Technology will undoubtedly relieve us of some cognitive burden, but research demonstrates that it has the potential to actively distort our thinking without any awareness on our part, such as by distorting our identities, beliefs, and memories and directing our decision-making. Understanding these side effects, as well as their implications for future technology innovation, is important.

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