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Hot Jobs for Grads

I.T. professionals are still in high demand

By John Edwards

With the 1900s fading into history, it’s time to look toward the 21st century. For new and recent I.T. grads, this means considering the pleasant prospect of a job market in which employment demand far exceeds the supply of skilled candidates.

For I.T. professionals, the early years of the third millennium will be characterized by rapid changes and intense demand, says H. Michael Boyd, an analyst at International Data Corp., a technology research firm in Framingham, Mass. “There are no signs that the intense competition for I.T. staff will abate, making the 21st century a continuation of the late 1990s.”

This year’s red-hot I.T. jobs include:

Programmer—Software jobs are expected to grow at a rate five times faster than that of the economy as a whole, according to the National Software Alliance, a software industry trade group based in Arlington, Va. As the backbone of a software development team, a programmer is expected to write, debug, test, modify and update code. The hottest programming areas include anything to do with the Internet, such as Java, Cold Fusion, C++, Perl and even good old HTML. Other areas high in demand include Unix, Linux and object-oriented methodologies. Starting salaries range from $30,000 to $45,000.

Programmer/Analyst—In addition to software development chores, a programmer/analyst must also work closely with end users to define a software system’s requirements, set a project’s scope and develop specs. As with programmers, the biggest need is for specialists with Internet experience. Starting salaries range from $45,000 to $60,000.

Database Developer—Thanks to the arrival of e-commerce, there’s a steadily rising demand for database experts. Grads who are able to code, test and implement large corporate databases can demand salaries up to $100,000. Developers with an understanding of Oracle, Informix, SQL and other leading database environments can expect starting salaries between $40,000 and $50,000.

Web Site Database Integrator—The government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts nearly 250,000 job openings in this field within the next decade. Besides a thorough knowledge of leading Web site development tools, Web site database integrators need to be familiar with standard database languages, such as DB2, Oracle and SQL.

A background in finance or accounting can also be helpful. Starting salaries range from $45,000 to $60,000.

Web Site Engineer—A Web site engineer is responsible for the way a site functions. This specialist needs an understanding of content development tools, scripting languages, client-side technologies and the many types of server platforms and browsers. It also helps to have project management experience and some knowledge of the site’s coverage area. (Someone working on a travel site, for example, should know how airlines structure their reservation databases.) Starting salaries range from $40,000 to $60,000.

Computer Engineer—According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of computer engineering jobs grew 108% between 1998 and 2000. And there’s no reason to believe that this level of growth won’t continue. Computer hardware engineers design, build or test chips, circuit boards, computer system boards and peripheral devices. In addition to a strong knowledge of electrical engineering concepts, workers in this field need a solid understanding of computer system design and programming languages as well as problem-solving and analytic skills. Expect a starting salary in the $35,000 to $50,000 range.

Network Architect—Networking is the hottest I.T. specialty, according to a survey sponsored by RHI Consulting, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based staffing firm. “The request for experienced networking professionals to help maintain and expand network infrastructures remains strong,” says Greg Scileppi, RHI Consulting’s executive director. The most crucial networking job is network architect—the person who plans, tests, modifies and implements systems ranging from modest local area networks (LANs) to global telecommunications labyrinths. Required skills include a detailed knowledge of networking technologies and methodologies. Starting salaries range from $30,000 to over $100,000, depending on the position’s responsibilities.

John Edwards is an information technology writer based in Gilbert, Ariz.

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