How Good Is the IT Hiring Market?

If you’ve been pursuing a masters in information systems or some other advanced degree in IT, you want to know that the effort will pay off. And recent hiring patterns suggest that there’s continued good news. When you get into the details, however, things are more nuanced.

Some 17,600 IT jobs were added in February, according to industry group TechAlliance.

According to industry group TechServe Alliance, February saw an addition of 17,600 IT jobs. Sound good? It actually depends on whom you ask. Research firm Foote Partners pegged the additions at 10,200, while Janco Associates said 5,000.

Quite a spread. But getting precision on the types of jobs added to the economy can be difficult, particularly when you’re looking at the information as it arrives. The numbers would start with what the federal government finds through surveys of businesses and households. The information is reported at a relatively high level. For February 2014, that meant an estimated addition of 79,000 jobs in “professional and business services.”

That is a wide category, though there can be additional information, like accounting and bookkeeping services representing 16,000 of those positions. Such organizations as TechServe Alliance, Foote, and Janco then do their own research to estimate what percentage of the appropriate category fall into the IT category. The numbers could vary depending on how the survey samples were built and what exactly was put into the IT category, which is a more potentially ambiguous task than one might think.

While there were definitely IT jobs added, the question is whether the rate is off what it was in the first seven months of 2013. Foote noted a drop of 4,000 from the average monthly additions in that period of faster growth. It could be that companies were replacing open requisitions in 2013 that had been put on hold through the recession. [incl-event tag=”open”]

Hiring growth isn’t necessarily across the board. According to Janco, it has happened in select areas like expertise in security for bring your own device programs, in which companies allow employees to use their own hardware rather than corporate-issued equipment.

Are things good, bad, or something else? Foote referred to lost momentum, but Janco cited declining caution among corporations and the TechServe Alliance said that it has seen “steady improvement in demand and IT job growth.”

Call it cautiously optimistic news for the IT job market. However, the mixed take suggests that competition is likely still strong for positions. Those who want to advance their careers should consider what they can do — whether learning new tools on their own, expanding their current responsibility, or advancing their educations — to make themselves more attractive to employers.

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