ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, April 19, 2022

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 18, Issue 8, April 19, 2022

Top 12 Highest-Paying Metro Areas for Data Scientists
Dice Insights, April 13

According to the latest survey data, the highest-paying cities for data scientists include the following California cities: Los Gatos, Cupertino, Menlo Park, Sunnyvale and Mountain View. All of these are Silicon Valley cities that are home to some of the most famous and successful companies in the technology space, including Meta, Netflix, Google and Apple. However, Silicon Valley does not completely dominate the market for highly-paid data scientists. Other metropolitan areas ranking highly in terms of pay include Cambridge, Boulder and Redmond.

If you are looking for a new role as a data scientist, it is worth noting that salaries for data scientists are typically highest in metropolitan areas that are home to large tech giants. For example, many of the top-paying cities for data scientists are the same as the top-paying cities for software engineers and software developers. There is a simple reason for that. Cities such as Menlo Park, Los Gatos, Mountain View, and Cupertino are home to some of the biggest tech companies in the world, all of which have the budget, benefits, and perks to attract the best of the best. Cambridge, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boulder, and Redmond also make strong appearances among the top 12 cities for data scientists. These cities host not only tech giants, but also world-class companies with similarly ample resources.

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Remote Work Is Freeing Tech Talent From the Limits of Geography
Fortune, April 7

Fueled by factors such as globalization and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, remote work has exploded across the globe, creating new high-paying opportunities for talented tech workers in unexpected locations. Five years ago, if you lived outside the U.S. and wanted to be a software engineer, most likely you would have to get into a great school, leave your country and family, and find a company that would sponsor a work visa and pay you well enough. You were constrained by bureaucracy and geography on many fronts. Fast forward to today and a different reality is unfolding. Software engineers are increasingly located in places like Mexico, Pakistan and the Dominican Republic.

Assuming the trend of global remote work continues its upward trajectory, there are several positive effects. The easiest to pinpoint is wellbeing. Giving workers the ability to stay closer to their friends and family has been shown to improve worker mental health and productivity. Remote work eliminates much of the daily commute for workers, which is equivalent to 89 million hours each week in the U.S. Hiring people from a diversity of geographies also increases the diversity of backgrounds, cultures, and thinking at a company. Another big benefit is rising wages for skilled workers in certain parts of the world, reducing the wage gap across geographical regions. Higher salaries benefit the local economy since remote workers pay local taxes and have purchasing power. Remote work salaries on the rise, even amidst looming economic and geopolitical issues. In the last six months, U.S. tech hiring abroad has grown by 74% alone. What is even more striking is that engineering salaries in these countries are on the rise by an average of 29%, narrowing a wage gap that has existed since the early days of the internet. From July to December 2021, wages of people hired grew in Mexico (by 57%), Canada (38%), Pakistan (27%), Argentina (21%), and India (8%).

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Why Apprenticeships Are the Answer to the Tech Labor Shortage, April 15

White collar industries are just starting to embrace the apprenticeship and some businesses say it is the future of entry-level employment. Apprenticeships have long been associated with trade industries, like manufacturing and construction. Now they are growing in popularity in the tech field, where recruiters are struggling to fill open roles. In the past year, there has been a lot more momentum, as companies face labor shortages in key technology jobs, and apprenticeships offer a means for cultivating in-house or entry-level talent. For the term of the apprenticeship, workers receive paid on-the-job training, usually working with a mentor who helps them through the ins and outs of their position. At the end of their term, they are hired into a full-time, entry-level position.

The primary reason why apprenticeships are so attractive to tech employers is that the company gets to hire people that they already know, and the investment is less than the cost of going out and finding new people. The majority of apprentices are early in their career, and may or may not hold a college degree. A smaller percentage, according to data, are career changers that are looking to become re-skilled. The relationship between companies organizing the apprenticeships and their client companies varies. Sometimes they fully manage the apprenticeship programs at a business, while other times, they assist with specific components of an otherwise company-run apprenticeship, like recruitment and onboarding.

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4 Tips For Transitioning Into an IT Management Role
The Enterprisers Project, April 7

For young IT professionals, making the transition to an IT management role is not always as easy or seamless as might be assumed. The bottom line is that management is not for everyone. All too often, people are promoted into management roles simply because they are next in line for the job. The person being promoted may be the most technically competent person on the team, but may not have the interest or interpersonal skills to take on this role. Before accepting an IT management role, then, you should be confident in your leadership abilities, as well as your ability to organize a team to work on complex technical challenges.

Stepping into a new IT management role is often uncomfortable at first. Many leaders struggle with letting go of their day-to-day responsibilities. They try to control and monitor everything personally. The result is a team of demoralized workers who will likely seek employment options elsewhere. After all, micromanagement is about mistrust. The micromanager believes that they can do things better or faster than anyone else. What micromanagers usually fail to understand is that their behavior causes long-term problems. Team members of micromanagers often feel demoralized. They begin to question their purpose at work and whether their boss values their input. Some employees kick back and ride the wave, figuring their manager will make corrections regardless of what they do. Others look to escape. Meanwhile, the micromanager is stressed out because there are not enough hours in the day to do their job and the job of everyone else.

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San Francisco is Losing Sway as a Talent Hub
Protocol, April 13

The San Francisco Bay Area may still be the capital of the U.S. tech industry, but it is fast losing its title as the preeminent place to find and hire top new tech talent. A new LinkedIn Economic Graph analysis ranked the top 10 cities with the highest share of new hires last year among the LinkedIn list of the top 50 employers ranked by opportunity for career progression. Although the current Top Companies list featured Amazon, Alphabet, IBM and Apple in the top 10, all of which are companies with a sizable Bay Area presence, the share of top companies hiring in San Francisco actually declined last year.

While California is losing sway as a talent hub, it still plays a very important role. For example, according to LinkedIn, Sacramento and San Diego came in at No. 7 and No. 8 on the list, respectively. But employers on the Top Companies list did a larger share of hiring in several cities in the South and the Midwest, with Houston, Detroit, Miami, Orlando, Chicago and Austin making the top six. Austin has been a particular hiring hub for both Apple and Dell Technologies, according to LinkedIn.

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Want to Start a Career in AI? Here Are the Skillsets in Demand
MakeUseOf, March 19

With the rapid growth of AI technology in many leading industries, from e-commerce to healthcare, there is increased need for IT professionals with the right skillsets and experiences to implement those solutions. Companies now rely on AI for personalized recommendations, market analysis, fraud detection, and the creation of new mixed reality experiences. So, the opportunities are endless for people who like to work with data and machine learning. As a dynamic, highly technical, and specialized field, AI jobs are well-paying. With that in mind, the article elaborates the options that are available for IT workers looking to break into the AI field.

Business analysis and research is one of the primary options for IT workers looking for AI-focused job opportunities. Research is the first step of the AI process. The key people driving this will be domain experts, business analysts, and researchers. They are experts in their industry or domain (like banking, insurance or manufacturing), and play a pivotal role in identifying opportunities, defining scope, researching the market, and making dynamic decisions. They also liaise between the business and the core AI teams. To be a domain expert or researcher, you will need an advanced degree in your field. For example, business analysts have a degree in Business, Economics, Statistics, or a closely related field. Critical thinking, problem-solving, and flexibility are essential skills for someone in a research and analysis team. In addition, a passion for technology and a willingness to learn new things will help you succeed in these roles in an AI project.

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Why Developers Are Joining the Great Resignation
InfoWorld, April 13

Just like other workers in the United States, software developers are increasingly choosing to leave their current jobs in pursuit of higher-paying or more rewarding opportunities elsewhere. According to a new survey of 600 IT leaders across the U.S., UK, France, Germany and Australia, factors such as increased workloads brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, growing pressure within the organization to transform digitally, and the ongoing need to keep up with and learn new technologies are largely to blame. As a result, 93% of organizations are finding it more difficult to retain skilled developers and 86% are also finding it more difficult to recruit since the start of the pandemic.

Obviously, increased stress levels in the workplace play an important role in the decision of whether or not to search out new job opportunities. The top three factors leading to stress and anxiety amongst developers, according to the survey, were increased workloads and demands from other teams (39%), growing pressure to transform digitally (37%), and the need to constantly learn new skills to adapt to new technologies and approaches (35%). More than three-quarters of organizations say their developers are being slowed down by overly complex software architectures. As a result, 91% of organizations see a need for more automation, in order to ease the burden on developers.

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Telltale Signs You Should Not Take the Job
Fast Company, April 2

Regardless of which position you are applying for, there are some definite job search warning signs that job seekers should be aware of during the search process. Often times, you might not be able to put your finger on it immediately, but something just does not seem quite right during the application process. This sense of unease tends to happen during the job interview, but it can start to take shape at just about any phase of the hiring process. It is important, then, to be able to recognize the biggest warning signs that you should not take a certain job, no matter how enticing the promised salary compensation might be.

One potential red flag is an interview process that takes too long. After a job interview, the wait to find out if you have been hired can seem like an eternity. But if it takes weeks, or even months, before your interviewer lets you know that you got the job, you might want to think twice before signing that job offer. Unless there is a really good reason, such as a restructuring or perhaps the acquisition of and merger with another company, taking that long to respond could indicate that filling your position is not a priority, which could mean you will not get the feedback and support you want or need. You can often tell right away if you are going to be an integral member of an organization during a job interview. If the potential boss takes no interest in you or your skills or is very terse in their communications, you might want to reconsider should you be offered the job.

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When Software Engineering Meets Quantum Computing
Communications of the ACM, April 2022

A new career field could be developing at the nexus of software engineering and quantum computing. Over the last few decades, quantum computing (QC) has intrigued scientists, engineers, and the public across the globe, but employment opportunities have been relatively limited. That could be changing, however, with the integration of software engineering and quantum computing. According to experts, the key enabler for building QC applications is quantum software. Quantum software needs to be supported with a quantum software stack, ranging from operating systems to compilers and programming languages. Quantum software engineering enables the cost-effective and scalable development of dependable quantum software to build revolutionary quantum software applications in many domains.

Building practical and real-life quantum computing applications requires the implementation of quantum algorithms as software. Learning from the classical computing realm, developing dependable software entails following a software development life cycle (SDLC), which typically includes requirements engineering, architecture and design, development, testing, debugging, and maintenance phases. Given that quantum software development is relatively new, an SDLC for quantum software does not exist. However, quantum programming languages are available to implement quantum algorithms. In their current state, these languages allow programming at the lower level, for instance, as quantum circuits consisting of quantum gates. Programming quantum circuits is challenging because it requires a specialized background in quantum physics, including an understanding of how quantum gates work. Unfortunately, classical computing programmers do not often possess such a background, thus making it difficult for them to program quantum computers.

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Developing Technical Leaders
Blog@CACM, April 4

In order to become a successful technical lead, it is important to understand the skills and competencies that comprise the various tiers of the technical hierarchy. Individual contributor is the tier where everybody starts, and most people likely stay their entire careers. Staying an individual contributor is hardly a bad thing, it just depends on personal interest and career goals. Individual contributors will generally go through three phases: early-career, mid-level, and senior, with the differentiating attributes of the latter phases being able to design, estimate, and implement from a whole problem perspective, the ability to look around corners, and mentor others.

Experience is critical in being able to do make the transition to greater engineering responsibility, but years of service is not the only determining factor. At the individual contributor level, specialization is important. For example, a software engineer on Wall Street needs to learn about financial instruments, while a data scientist working for a hospital needs to learn about healthcare. Those are domain skills and are important for functional delivery. As for technical skills, there are many topics to consider as new programming languages, frameworks, and techniques keep appearing. Technical professionals need to be competent in many areas, but it takes a lot of time to become an expert in something, and this is where focusing on one thing means not focusing on something else. There are no wrong decisions on specialization as long as those decisions line up with personal goals and interests.

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