The market for information technology professionals is enjoying a resurgence, as companies seek to update older systems, expand wireless communication, ensure greater control over financial reporting and internal intelligence, and replace retiring baby boomers.
Reduced demand after the dot-com bust at the start of the century led to fewer grads, and now companies are struggling to fill the growing need for skilled technology personnel.
Software developers and Web developers are in particularly high demand in industries including healthcare, financial services, insurance, and technology.
"If companies are not reacting fast to specialized, highly skilled job applicants, they're losing them," said Rich Cronin, vice president for the New England district for professional staffing firm Robert Half Technology. "People with state-of-the-art technology skills are not on the market long."
Among the areas where Cronin sees a strong market are tech support and development, programming, and LAN administration.
Fall, he added, is a great time to look for work, as this is when companies like to review and update their systems before year's end.
Average salary: $95,030 (hardware); $90,070 (systems software)
Demand: Very good. Demand is escalating for engineers skilled in the latest software programs to help companies incorporate rapidly changing technologies and new applications into their systems, and for protecting networks against security attacks.
Qualifications: Hardware engineers: Degree in computer or electrical engineering; software engineers: degree in software engineering or computer science. Those with graduate degrees, business courses, and good communication skills are a step ahead.
Average salary: $75,750 (programmers); $80,390 (systems analysts)
Demand: Strong. Programmers and analysts with state-of-the-art technology expertise and network security skills are in high demand, particularly in healthcare, insurance, and financial services.
Qualifications: Degree in computer or information science or mathematics; business courses; up-to-date systems and applications skills.
DATA ENTRY KEYERS
Average salary: $29,860
Demand: Fair. High turnover generates jobs, and some smaller companies who can't afford new systems still use people to do this work, but much has been automated.
Qualifications: High school education and good clerical and computer systems skills.
COMPUTER, AUTOMATED TELLER, AND OFFICE MACHINE REPAIRERS
Average salary: $43,720
Demand: Good. Companies and individuals always need repair service for computers and other technological equipment.
Qualifications: Vocational or community college training in electronics; certification for computer repair.
LOCAL AREA NETWORK (LAN) ADMINISTRATORS
Average salary: $75,640
Demand: Strong. LAN administrators and other systems development professionals are in high demand for management, security, and cost control.
Qualifications: Bachelor's degree; expertise in the latest systems and applications; good communication and business skills.
TECHNICAL SUPPORT SPECIALISTS
Average salary: $55,170
Demand: Very good. Those with strong skills in the latest state-of-the-art technologies are among the most in-demand IT professionals.
Qualifications: Associate's or bachelor's degree in a computer-related field, experience, skills in communication and problem-solving, up-to-date knowledge of latest technologies.
Average salary: $68,600
Demand: Good. Skilled writers in specialized fields who understand complex scientific and technological material and can communicate it to general audiences through articles, training materials, and users' guides are in demand. Rapidly changing electronics and high-tech industries keep this job market active.
Qualifications: Degree in English or journalism; advanced degrees or a second degree in an area of specialization very helpful; excellent writing skills plus knowledge of specialty field.
WEB DESIGNERS/SITE BUILDERS
Average salary: $71,450
Demand: Strong. Creative, talented Web designers with multimedia skills and broad knowledge of the newest technologies and systems are among the hottest properties. Demand is high for those who are skilled in both coding and art.
Qualifications: Degree in visual arts or design generally preferred, plus computer science courses; some still want computer science degree; creativity and artistic talent; constantly continuing education in the newest skills and systems. Build a diverse portfolio.