ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, November 2, 2021
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 17, Issue 20, October 19, 2021
Overall growth in IT jobs continues to be strong even as new concerns about COVID-19 may keep some tech employers on the fence about hiring new employees. A surge of 22,000 new jobs in August followed job growth of about 18,500 in June and 10,100 in July, reflecting continuing business recovery from the pandemic. In fact, IT job growth has occurred every month this year, though it was uneven through May, averaging 13,000 new jobs each month so far in 2021. The IT job situation in the U.S. continues to look very much like it did pre-pandemic, with more positions than candidates. In fact, businesses would have filled more IT positions in September had they found enough qualified candidates for them, especially in fields such as cybersecurity.
The IT talent shortage has put even greater pressure on businesses to increase salaries at a time when U.S. IT salaries had already been trending up in 2021. Hiring experts now expect 2021 to have greater IT job growth (145,000 to 152,000 new positions) than in any year since 2015, when 112,500 new positions were created. In 2018, 104,600 new IT positions were added; in 2019, the increase was 90,200; and in 2020, the industry lost 33,200 positions. There are now 3.72 million IT jobs in the U.S. according to estimates. The monthly tech jobs report released by the CompTIA industry association also showed slower growth in September hiring. CompTIA calculated that there were 18,700 new U.S. tech sector jobs last month, down from 26,800 in August, but still up from both July (a gain of 10,700 jobs) and June (a gain of 10,500).
As technology becomes more integrated into our day-to-day lives, and as new technology develops, businesses of all sizes are looking to hire entry-level IT professionals to help them adapt. There are many entry-level IT jobs available that are appropriate for new graduates who are just starting their careers, as well as experienced professionals who are interested in entering the industry or changing their job role within it. Top titles include software engineer, database analyst and information security analyst. These entry-level IT jobs will help give you a solid foundation and put you on track towards more senior positions.
One entry-level job that remains popular is computer support specialist. Computer support specialists troubleshoot problems with programs or machines by running tests, installing updates or patches, doing research online, or making suggestions to help users fix issues themselves. Some employers require an undergraduate degree in computer science or information systems, while others may just require an associate-level degree in a computer-related field. The average salary for a computer support specialist is around $55,000 annually in the United States. Network engineer is another popular entry-level job role. Network engineers deal mainly with designing, building, maintaining, and improving private networks in order to allow organizations to communicate seamlessly across vast distances. You will usually need a degree in a subject such as computer science, or other related fields. The average annual salary for a network engineer is approximately $75,000.
While Silicon Valley continues to the the preeminent tech hub in the nation, a number of up-and-coming tech hubs appear to be gaining momentum in terms of available tech jobs and career opportunities. According to Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country, it is clear that demand for technologists is spiking in big U.S. cities, especially Chicago, Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, and Washington, DC. While traditional tech hubs such as San Francisco and New York have not lost their advantages, other cities seem to be gaining strength as tech destinations.
Over the past 90 days, U.S. cities with the most tech openings include New York City (39,120), Chicago (23,525), Atlanta (23,190) and Austin (20,305). In addition, Washington, D.C., which long had a tech community centered around the federal government, is enjoying an influx of companies such as Amazon, all of which need a variety of tech talent. Cities in Texas, including Austin and Dallas, are benefitting from the aggressive attempt by Texas to lure talent away from California. Over the past two years, Oracle announced that it would move its headquarters from Northern California to Austin; Tesla, Hewlett-Packard, and other companies launched new facilities in the state; and the local startup ecosystem is on the rise.
Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Jobs Listings Skyrocket in 2021
Tech Republic, October 11
Since the debut of Bitcoin in 2009, the need for professionals to work on and with digital cryptocurrencies powered by blockchain technology has increased every year. Cryptocurrencies continue to go mainstream, due in large part to rapid price gains. Moreover, the sheer number of digital coins that exist has skyrocketed to more than 6,000 in 2021. As a result, queries for careers in crypto and blockchain have significantly spiked. According to Indeed, postings for crypto and blockchain careers are up more than 118 percent in 2021.
Data from Indeed shows the crypto and blockchain industry is maturing given that it has seen an increase in crypto job postings that reach beyond listings for functions such as mining digital coins or trading various digital currencies, but also ones in finance, marketing, human resources and accounting. Indeed said its research shows software development positions in general are likely to be remote, hovering around 31% as of June 2021. Meanwhile, 44% of crypto and blockchain-focused software development career postings were listed as remote. The popular crypto exchange platform Coinbase, for example, recently announced that moving forward it has decided to be a remote-first company. A frequent cryptocurrency selling point is that they are borderless, the Indeed survey said, thanks to the decentralized blockchain ledger technology underlying them. That decentralization makes many crypto and blockchain jobs highly suitable for remote work. As such, it said these statistics could help draw software development workers seeking remote opportunities to the crypto industry.
The 5 Best Coding Jobs to Start Your Career
ZDNet, September 20
A coding career path now includes some of the fastest-growing job opportunities in the United States. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects more than 189,000 new jobs for software developers between 2020 and 2030, with median salaries of $110,140. LinkedIn listed coding careers in artificial intelligence, data science, and digital marketing among its 15 most in-demand jobs for 2021. Other types of coding jobs projected to grow in the next few years include web development, software engineering, and market research analysis. The good news is that many companies offer multiple types of coding jobs that require little experience while still offering a competitive salary, making them perfect entry-level coding jobs to start a career.
The list of the best entry-level coding jobs includes junior web developer. This coding career features the development of the user-facing and back-end programming of web applications and software. Junior developers often work under the direction of a project manager or senior web developer as part of a team, collaborating to solve coding problems or address end-user needs. Many junior web developers hold an undergraduate degree in computer science or a related field, but companies often consider candidates with experience gained through coding bootcamps or other training. Data analyst is another entry-level job opportunity. Data analysts gather information from various sources and then translate that data into charts or reports that inform business leaders as they make decisions. For this coding career, individuals need skills in statistics, math, and computer programming, especially Python and SQL. They also need to know how to design effective graphics or other data visualization materials. Many data analysts study computer science or math in college or pursue a coding bootcamp to learn to use data analyst programs and tools.
IT Careers: How to Get Out of a Rut
The Enterprisers Project, October 6
IT career ruts happen for many reasons. If you are feeling stuck, it may have to do with your workplace culture, with a specific manager, or simply due to the fact that you have spent too much time at your company doing the same job function. Routine work can lead to boredom. At the same time, workplace pressures may create a sense of anxiety, so performing tasks is no longer enjoyable and rewarding as survival instincts take over and the fear of losing a job outweighs everything else. The combination of fear and boredom often leads to a feeling of inertia in your career. You might find it difficult to take on new challenges due to a fear of coming up short. The good news is that there are five proven strategies to get out of a career rut.
Setting new personal goals is one way to get out of a rut. Your value to any organization is based on the significance of what you do, so take stock of where you are and set fresh personal goals to help drive you forward. Rather than trying to force a change, take time to reflect on what possibilities can emerge from your current situation and set a goal to realize them. You may discover that these goals are not so difficult to achieve. When you get started, add small, easily attainable targets so that you can build momentum and get your energy flowing again. Also, expand your network. It is easy to fall into a slump if you operate in a silo. In the IT workspace, networking is no longer optional. Attending virtual and physical events connects you with people who can not only provide great opportunities in the future but also help with your current situation. Having a diverse range of contacts enables you to pursue future opportunities as well as be a resource for others. Try a more interpersonal approach to networking. Instead of simply emailing people, drop by their office or make a video call. Broaden your reach because you never know who might someday offer you exactly what you need.
7 Exciting Careers to Consider as a Programmer
MakeUseOf, September 18
If you prefer to work at a smaller startup instead of an established tech giant, or if you have a non-traditional career background, you can always take a look at alternative career choices for your programming skills. Typically, companies advertise the same type of jobs that involve programming or coding. There are positions you will come across often, such as web developer, computer programmer, computer systems analyst, and software developer. Demands vary from job to job and company to company, of course, but landing one of these careers is not easy, especially without enough skill, experience, and confidence. However, there are many other careers that you can still consider as a programmer.
Coding challenges and competitions are useful in terms of experience and rewards. In terms of careers, however, you can explore alternative routes to programming mastery. With that in mind, video game developer is one way to leverage your experience playing video games. If you are a gamer, you know first-hand what makes a good title. Video game programmers create and tune the coding so that everything functions well (the interface, controls, action sequences, dialogue, audio, and more). The best way to prepare yourself for this programming career is to practice by making your own games or producing mods for existing titles. Even learning how to make a Roblox game can add to your experience.
How My Job Search Forced Me to Catch Up With Technology
WIRED, September 18
If you have not launched a job search recently, it is important to understand just how much technology has changed the process of getting a new job. First and most importantly, you need to make sure your new resume is scan worthy. When you apply for a job online, a computer reads your resume before any human eyes see it. An automated software program called an applicant-tracking system scans your resume for keywords related to the position you are applying for. The system analyzes resumes to find the best match for a position, so it is vital that your resume includes appropriate buzzwords and is professionally written.
An important next step in your job search is to update your LinkedIn profile. Throughout the job search, LinkedIn will play an important role. Many, if not most, hiring companies rely on LinkedIn to read up on candidates and connect with them. You really do need to have a profile. A free account is fine, but the premium level offers features like direct messaging to recruiters, interview preparation tools, and applicant insights so you can see how you compare to other candidates. Employers will probably look to see if you have a page. They will want to read your employment story. Participate by commenting on other posts, posting your own stories, or writing an article pertinent to your industry, knowledge, or experience. Also, join and participate in professional groups related to your field. This social media networking is an important aspect of your job search. Use the LinkedIn recommendation feature too. This allows others (such as prior employers or work associates) to recommend you. For good job karma, you should also recommend people you know.
The Role of Professional Certifications in Computer Occupations
Communications of the ACM, October 2021
Experienced and aspiring practitioners within computing occupations need to manage their qualifications with respect to current market needs. Achievement of professional certifications along with formal education, experience, and licenses provides the basis for employment qualifications. Within the U.S. job market, certifications are now important across a range of computer occupations, such as software developer, information security analyst, computer network architect, and web developer. Analysis of the U.S. market provides context for the discussion of certification attributes to consider when selecting a certification for investment with regard to time, cost and reputation.
At the end of the day, certification can impact your range of employment opportunities. But how does one pick a certification and what are the consequences of any particular choice? To answer that question, there are a number of dimensions that need to be considered, including certification demand, motivation, value, quality and cost. Certification demand simply refers to the perceived need for a specific certification by both the employee and the employer. According to one study, an average of 13.5% of U.S. workers within the computer and mathematical occupations have a license or certification. Of that 13.5%, 6.6% have at least one certification. Those with associate degrees within computer and mathematical occupations are the largest group by formal education to hold certifications or licenses (19%). Of the workers holding masters degrees, 14.5% have a certification, and doctoral degree holders slightly edge out bachelor degree holders, with 13.3% versus 13.0%, respectively. Based on these statistics, it appears that a minority of computer and mathematical professionals has a license or at least one certification. Of those who do, a majority of practitioners is required to have them.
Preparing Adult Learners For Success in Blended Learning Through Onboarding
eLearn Magazine, September 21
Largely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations of all sizes are now considering new alternatives to training and onboarding their employees. One popular alternative is known as blended learning, which combines a mix of traditional face-to-face instruction and online instruction. Advances in technology have broadened the scope of defining blended learning wherein traditional face-to-face interaction can be conducted via videoconferencing technologies. Blended learning can also be defined as a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning activities. This technologically enhanced version of blended learning is increasingly popular with adult learners. It capitalizes on the strengths and minimizes the drawbacks of synchronous and asynchronous teaching and interaction.
Adult learners are a growing educational demographic. In 2016, the largest group of adult learners gaining certificates or licenses were those with a graduate or professional degree. These practicing professionals are challenged by work and personal commitments as they re-enter the educational environment. Practicing professionals, accomplished in their work environments, can find transitioning back to the academic setting stressful. Furthermore, the online learning environment may be foreign to them, adding to their stress and discomfort as returning learners. Blended learning mitigates but does not eliminate the challenges of online learning. Technology frequently challenges adult learners participating in blended learning programs. They are also confronted with differing levels of interaction with peers and the instructor since interaction works differently in an asynchronous environment. Orientation for online learning can help prepare learners to work more effectively in the online learning environment.
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