What’s the hottest job market for tech talent?

Purely by the number of jobs posted, that would be the San Francisco Bay Area. Between San Jose at the southern end of the bay and San Francisco at the Golden Gate to the north, companies posted 303,466 IT jobs, according to CompTIA’s Tech Town Index.

In sheer numbers, the other metro areas in the Index pale in comparison. Only Washington, D.C. and Dallas come close, posting, respectively, 260,000 and 178,579 jobs in the year ending July 31.

If volume was all there was to consider, then Austin, Texas wouldn’t hold the top position on the Tech Town Index. But it does, because the annual report, as CompTIA explains, “Points IT pros in the direction of where opportunity intersects with affordability and quality of life across the United States.”

With a cost of living far below that of Silicon Valley, and 4% below the national average, Austin’s affordability is 4th among the 20 metro areas included in the Tech Town Index. “That’s a bonus for IT pros who earn a median salary of $87,880 here,” says the report.

Austin is also booming. In 2019 58 tech companies relocated to the metro area bringing with them 4,648 jobs. Collectively, the 5,500 startups and tech firms posted 68,323 jobs in the 12 months covered by the report.

Right behind Austin is Dallas. Between the 2019 and 2020 CompTIA reports, the number of advertised tech positions increased by 22%. Total jobs are projected to grow at 3% next year and, in 5 years, by 11% to 190,000. With a cost of living 2% below the national average, a median tech salary of $94,044 and a vibrant night life and sports teams “tech professionals are finding opportunity and quality of life in Dallas,.” the report says.

Most of the metro areas on the list are familiar tech centers. Seattle, Boston, the Research Triangle metro areas of Raleigh and Durham-Chapel Hill, Denver and Silicon Valley’s San Jose and San Francisco are all represented, the latter two in 4th and 7th place despite their high cost of living.

Some less well-known tech areas such as Madison, Wisconsin and Huntsville, Alabama, home of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, also made the list.

Trenton, New Jersey, which had been among the top 20 metros on the Index in 2018, then fell off a year later, returned in the recent report ranking 20th. “Advertising for nearly 13,000 technology jobs in the past 12 months, the tech economy is on the rise,” the report notes, “and the city’s location is the biggest draw. Located in central New Jersey on the Delaware River, Trenton is easily accessible to both New York and Philadelphia.”


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Tech Execs Optimistic About Returning to Normal

While many businesses across the country are struggling in the face of COVID-19 required shutdowns, tech executives are more positive with nearly two-thirds expecting to see the start of a return to business as usual by mid-summer.

CompTia, the trade association for the tech industry, says 46% of tech leaders are “upbeat and optimistic.” Another 46% say their companies are “hanging in there.” A mere 8% report being in difficulty.

Much of the optimism may stem from the demand for tech services from companies whose employees are increasingly working from home.

When CompTia first surveyed its community and advisory council members in March, three-quarters said they were getting new business and inquiries. The larger share of the new opportunities (38%) came from businesses shifting from on-premises infrastructure to the cloud. In the latest survey, conducted at the end of April, the largest share of business opportunities came from communications, collaboration and video technologies.

For the managed services providers, CompTia’s April survey discovered their new business was shifting to cybersecurity, which grew from 39% in March to 44%. Meanwhile, new opportunities in consulting inquiries and outsourced and managed IT had dropped, the latter by 10 percentage points.

Overall, 83% of the responding tech firms were getting new business.

Tech firms, however, haven’t been immune from the disruption caused by COVID-19. The most recent survey found 58% of tech firms had customers cancel or postpone spending.

Still, barely 20% have laid-off staff or contractors or cut hours. In fact, the survey found 40% had taken no staffing action and more were hiring. The percentage of firms adding staff increased from 9% in March to 13% at the end of April.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash


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Tech Pros with Certifications Earn More

If you’re an IT professional and want to double that raise you got (who doesn’t?) learn a new skill or earn a certification.

That’s what Global Knowledge discovered when it surveyed tech workers around the world. The training firm won’t release its 2020 IT Skills and Salary Report until later this summer, but it gave everyone a preview of some of the key findings. Among them is the financial impact of training.

Global Knowledge found the average raise for tech professionals this year is right around 6%, which translates to a bump of just about $5,000. But those who learned a new skill earned nearly $12,000 more and those who obtained a new certification got almost $13,000 more.

“The reason for a raise impacts the amount of the raise,” says Global Knowledge. “Twelve percent of individuals who received a raise attribute it to developing new skills that were of added value. Those same individuals earned nearly $12,000 more this year compared to 2019.

“IT professionals who attribute their raise to obtaining a new certification experienced a salary bump of nearly $13,000.”

This isn’t just a one-survey wonder. Global Knowledge has surveyed tech workers since 2008 finding that those with new certifications nearly always are rewarded with a bigger than average raise. In North America tech pros with at least one certification typically earns 8% more than those with no certifications. Those with 6 or more certifications get an even bigger pay bump, earning $13,000 more than those with just one.

The reason for the difference is simple: The more skills a person has, the more productive they can be and thus more valuable. This is especially significant in tech where, as Global Knowledge says, two-thirds of IT decision-makers believe the lack of necessary skills – the skills gap – is costing between 3 and 9 hours of productivity a week.

That explains why this year Global Knowledge found a 36% jump in managers approving IT training. When training is available, 80% of managers are now giving workers the OK. On the other hand, 20% are still saying “No” to training.

According to Global Knowledge those 1-in-5 managers worry that taking time to train will negatively impact work and cause a loss of productivity. But, as the company’s report preview points out, that dip will be short-term, while not having people with all the right skills is a long-term impact.

Trying to fill the skills gap by hiring talent is so difficult that 69% of IT managers have multiple open positions. Nearly all have at least one opening.

Photo by Wes Hicks


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