If you're an IT professional, it's a good time to be looking for a job. According to CompTIA's IT Industry Outlook 2017, "Forty-one percent of US firms report having IT job openings and are actively recruiting candidates." While many of those available positions are the result of expansion, 38% of the companies surveyed were replacing IT workers who had left for other jobs. As the economy improves, many technology professionals are looking to making a change.
In the same vein, a report from Robert Half Technology found that 16% of US CIOs planned to expand their IT teams this year, and 69% expected to hire workers to fill vacancies caused by turnover. Only 14% planned to reduce head count or put hiring on hold.
"Tech has been one of the bright spots of the employment picture over the past three to four years, and that will probably continue," said John Reed, senior executive director for Robert Half Technology. He added, "One thing is certain: There are definitely more tech jobs than tech professionals."
But where are those tech jobs?
Experts say that nine key industries are planning significant IT hiring in the coming year, and which IT skillsets they are most likely to need.
When it comes to industries that expect to do a lot of IT hiring in 2017, healthcare is at the top of nearly everyone's list. Reed said that many healthcare firms are particularly interested in hiring security professionals. Patient data is highly sensitive, and healthcare organizations must meet strict compliance regulations when it comes to protecting that data. In addition, recent news about data breaches has companies in many different industries, including healthcare, more concerned than ever about IT security.
Reed added that many healthcare facilities also are in the process of modernizing their networking and telecommunications equipment. Upgrading their hardware allows organizations to provide faster access to data and applications, but it also sometimes requires them to hire new personnel to install and maintain that upgraded equipment.
According to Mike Durney, CEO of DHI Group, Inc., parent company of the online job board Dice.com, the technology industry is one of the hottest areas for IT employment. He said that in his company's most recent hiring survey, "57% of the respondents who anticipate more hiring of tech professionals sit squarely within technology companies."
Tech firms are experiencing a boom as trends like cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data analytics induce other organizations to increase their technology budgets. In fact, Gartner predicts that worldwide IT spending will rise 2.9 percent in 2017 to reach $3.5 trillion. In order to meet this growing demand for software and services, many technology companies are increasing their own hiring of IT professionals.
3. Financial Services
Digitalization, analytics and security threats are spurring more fintech hiring. The Robert Half Technology 2017 Hiring Guide noted, "Financial organizations are expanding online banking and brokerage services and increasing other technology-enabled services to support customers. There is also strong demand in the sector for experienced technology professionals who can support big data and information security initiatives."
The industry has been one of the earliest to embrace big data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, resulting in a need for software developers, data scientists and similar professionals. "Wall Street has long been a pioneer of tech innovation as firms leverage technology products to gain a competitive edge," Durney said.
Construction may not be the first industry that comes to mind when you think of IT workers, but the building trades have become increasingly reliant on technology, particularly when it comes to large-scale projects. Reed said that his firm is seeing increasing demand for IT workers in the construction sector. He attributed the increase to pent-up demand from the years when the housing market was soft. "Probably projects that were on hold have been greenlighted as the economy improves," he said.
He also noted that, as in other industries, some of the demand for IT workers likely results from construction firms updating their systems and platforms as their technology budgets increase.
5. Business Services
The business services sector includes firms that provide things like accounting, maintenance, temporary staffing, and even IT services to other organizations. Reed pointed to this industry as another area doing a lot of IT hiring. Much of the head count growth likely results from the improving economy.
Gartner data shows that the IT services category likely will be especially strong in 2017. IT services spending grew 3.9 percent last year, and Gartner forecasts that it will increase 4.8 percent this year to reach $943 billion.
6. Professional Services
The professional services category comprises occupations like lawyers, architects, engineers, and other jobs that require a professional degree. Robert Half Technology is also seeing greater IT hiring from these types of firms.
Reed said that five main themes are driving an IT job boom in this sector. First, firms are more concerned than ever about security. Second, they are expanding their digital and web businesses, and they need IT workers who can support those efforts. Third, they are increasing their use of analytics. Fourth, these firms are beginning to develop their own apps and need software developers to fill those roles. Finally, they are embracing cloud computing and seeking professionals who can help manage and orchestrate their use of the cloud.
Self-driving cars are on everyone's minds today, and even cars that aren't yet capable of operating on their own are incorporating more technology than ever before. Durney noted that carmakers like Hyundai are currently advertising for technology workers on Dice.com.
"Many automotive companies today recognize that leveraging technology is critical to competing in the market today," he said. "Having skilled technology professionals on board is necessary to make that happen."
The government and defense sectors are also hot areas for IT workers on DHI group job websites, although Durney acknowledged that some of the reason why his company sees so much demand from within the government sector is because his firm has a website specifically targeted at hiring job seekers with security clearances.
Still, government agencies do seem to be adding more IT staff than in years past. Durney said that among the respondents to the recent DHI Hiring survey who said they planned to hire more tech workers this year, 7% were from the government/defense sector.
The growth in machine learning and artificial intelligence has affected a somewhat surprising sector — education. A recent Evans Data survey found that the number of machine learning developers targeting education has doubled in the second half of 2016, rising from 6% to 11.7%.
Whether they are looking for a job in education or another field, IT pros might do well to add machine learning skills to their repertoire. According to Evans Data, "Across the spectrum of industries two of the top technologies in demand [are] data scientists and machine learning/deep learning engineers."
Cynthia Harvey is a freelance writer and editor based in the Detroit area. She has been covering the technology industry for more than fifteen years. View Full Bio