Salaries recovering for some IT skills

Some experts believe offshore outsourcing is the cause of sagging salaries of some IT skills, but one research firm says certain specialties are recovering.

Offshore outsourcing, long thought to be associated with the plummeting salaries of some IT specialties, is believed to have less effect, according to the results of a study released this week by IT research consultancy Foote Partners LLC.

A lot of offshoring came back to bite some companies, because some managers were lost as a result of not involving them in the process.
David Foote,
presidentFoote Partners LLC

The New Canaan, Conn.-based firm is seeing a recovery in salaries of some IT specialties, including a variety of application development, networking and database-related skills. The firm said its annual salary study is based on 50,000 IT workers.

Among the list of non-certified skills seeing a rise in pay over the first six months of 2005 were operating systems, which rose 8.2% over the same period last year; networking and Internet skills, up 5.1%; and applications development skills, which rose 2.1%, according to Foote Partners.

Certified skills making the list of biggest gainers in the first six months of 2005 were Web-based skills, which rose 3.8% over the same period last year; development and programming languages, up 2.3%; and applications and database skills, which rose nearly 1%.

"A lot of offshoring came back to bite some companies, because some managers were lost as a result of not involving them in the process," said David Foote, president of Foote Partners, in an interview with SearchSAP.com.

Foote said many companies stumbled in their first foray into offshore outsourcing, failing to communicate with U.S.-based managers, while not recognizing how a mix of cultural, social and legal differences would affect the quality of IT services sent abroad.

"Companies that didn't approach offshoring appropriately are finding that they're spending much more money," Foote said. "There's a certain amount of organizational transition and miscommunication that has resulted in problems in many offshoring projects."

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The biggest acceleration in pay is attributed to a rise in need of Microsoft SQL Server specialists, in addition to IBM WebSphere skills and Microsoft .NET and SQL Windows experience, according to Foote.

Specific SAP skills are also seeing a recovery, according to SAP career expert Jon Reed. He said skills relating to customer relationship management, Web services, NetWeaver and supply chain management have seen growth among some SAP professionals.

SQL technology skills are in demand, despite the abundant supply of IT workers who have that experience, Foote said. A rise in Web services projects has also fueled the need for experienced WebSphere and Gigabit Ethernet skills, Foote said.

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In addition, pay for non-certified skills is growing at a much greater rate than certified skills, Foote said. As many IT projects extend globally, employers are also seeking multilingual applicants and people with experience on projects that cut across borders.

"Employers are saying certification is nice but what they really want is experience," Foote said. "They want experience in particular industries and people to show they've applied their talents in a specific industry and in particular solutions within an industry."

Meanwhile, skills showing the most salary weakness in the current job market were e-commerce development skills, XML, Java and ActiveX Programming language skills.

Security is listed among the worst salary performers over the last year and Linux was also a loser, according to the Foote survey. Foote said the supply of Linux-skilled IT professionals has caught up to demand, driving down their value in 2005.

Foote warned that just because skills are not showing an increase in salary doesn't mean that they are not in great demand.

For example, specific security skills are still in great demand and many security specialties still rank among the highest paying skills and get a premium.

Certificates in Certified Information Systems Security Professional are still among the highest paying, and Cisco Certified Security Professional certificates are also seeing pay growing in value, according to Foote.

"Budgets for security have been pretty good, but there's been a lot of attention paid to career development in this area," Foote said. "There's a huge increase in the number of security programs at the university level, so this depresses some salary figures in this area."

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