Career watch: Jobs update

Q&A: Todd Weinman

A member of the Leadership Development Committee at nonprofit IT professional organization ISACA discusses job prospects in the audit field and in IT in general.

What is the outlook for IT jobs right now? What sorts of positions are most in demand? The market for IT audit and governance risk-management and compliance professionals continues to show strong signs of recovery. We have finally crossed back over into at least the low end of a normal market. Accordingly, we see several very encouraging trends. Overall, the number of open positions for IT audit and GRC professionals continues to increase. Hiring freezes are virtually nonexistent, the number of open positions has increased substantially, and we see more positions being put out to search, which is a signal of shifting supply and demand.

Public accounting and consulting firms are in a hiring mode -- some aggressively so. I have also spoken with many chief audit executives who are anticipating openings in their departments caused by auditors moving out into the business. This is a trend that abated the past several years as there was a dearth of open positions to move into.

We are also seeing increased competition for resources. It has become common again for high-caliber senior IT auditors or consultants to receive multiple offers. Similarly, we are seeing more openings for manager-, director- and vice-president-level positions.

In other IT career areas, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of computer network, systems and database administrators is expected to increase by 30% from 2008 to 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Are this year's new graduates from computer science programs finding work easily? IT majors still in college would be well advised to consider a double major or a minor in business or accounting. This will enable them to transition into IT audit or IT GRC roles and will better equip them for leadership positions within IT organizations. These roles often offer higher compensation potential, are more insulated from economic cycles and are much less easily offshored.

As for this year's graduates, the Big Four and other public accounting and consulting firms have increased campus recruiting in anticipation of continued economic recovery. Those firms also value the combination of IT and business or accounting skills.

Network security and risk management professionals are currently in high demand and are listed inside the top 20 on Money magazine and's list of top 100 most desirable jobs. In the next 10 years, network security positions are forecast to grow 27%.

According to BankInfoSecurity, because of risks brought on by emerging technologies, as well as growing adoption of enterprise risk management protocols, the need for skilled, educated professionals in the risk management area is growing. The publication reports that 47% of hiring managers from various industries are looking to hire professionals who are skilled in information risk management. Strict regulatory compliance standards are also driving the need for skilled IT professionals within a growing number of organizations, especially in the health and financial sectors.

Another Take on the Best Cities for Jobs

We reported in May that had determined that Detroit had the fastest growth in tech jobs during 2010. Now IT staffing firm Modis offers its "Top Cities to Find a Job in IT" list. Factors that Modis considered include the increase in the number of job openings from the preceding quarter, growing industries in the region and the intensity of the competition for top talent. Here are Modis' top seven:

* 1. Houston

* 2. Washington

* 3. Columbus, Ohio

* 4. Detroit

* 5. Philadelphia

* 6. Edison, N.J

* 7. Boston

Retirement Dreams: Shaky

Asked how confident they were that they would be able to live comfortably throughout their retirement years, 27% of U.S. workers said "not at all." That's the highest rate for that response that the Employee Benefit Research Institute has received in the 19 years it has been conducting the survey, and well ahead of the 6% figure reported in the initial survey, back in 1993. (If it's any consolation, actual retirees are typically more likely to say that they are confident they have enough money to live comfortably during their remaining years.) Extra bad news: The telephone survey was conducted before Rep. Paul Ryan released his proposal to turn Medicare into a voucher program.

How confident are you that you will have enough money to live comfortably throughout your retirement years?

* Somewhat: 36%

* Not at all: 27%

* Not too: 23%

* Very: 13%

* Don't know or refused to answer: 1%

Source: EBRI survey of 1,004 U.S. workers, aged 25 and older, January 2011

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