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There’s a gold rush going on, but this time it isn’t gold people are after — it’s silicon; and it isn’t in California (well, actually, a lot of it is) — it’s in the tech market. There is a shortage of qualified and available information technology job candidates. And with the tech sector booming, this shortage is getting larger.

With buzzwords like cloud computing, Big Data and software-defined networking flying around like leaves on a windy day, it’s no surprise that many tech job descriptions are laden with these same words.

A simple search for these buzzwords on LinkedIn will overwhelm you with options. The jobs — very specific, targeted jobs — are there, but the qualified candidates are not.

The Most Wanted Jobs in IT

According to U.S. News & World Report, many of the top “technology” jobs are focused on the computer, the server and even the data center. Here are the top 11:

  1. Software Developer
  2. Computer Systems Analyst ***
  3. Web Developer
  4. Information Security Analyst ***
  5. Database Administrator ***
  6. Civil Engineer
  7. Mechanical Engineer
  8. IT Manager ***
  9. Computer Programmer
  10. Computer Systems Administrator ***
  11. Computer Support Specialist ***

The asterisks are my own; they indicate the core IT jobs that relate to server and infrastructure management and maintenance. Many are quite specific; others can encompass a wide variety of responsibilities within the IT job category.

Although there are plenty of IT jobs available, you will tend to find them clustered within various tech communities around the United States. ranks the top 10 states for IT jobs:

  1. California ($109,000)
  2. Texas ($77,900 Dallas-Ft. Worth/Arlington; $77,200 Round Rock)
  3. Florida ($70,930)
  4. Illinois ($79,800)
  5. New York ($80,700)
  6. Virginia ($82,100)
  7. Georgia ($76,060)
  8. New Jersey ($79,700)
  9. Pennsylvania ($75,660)
  10. North Carolina ($76,100)

The dollar amounts listed above appear in the CIO article and are the typical median incomes for tech jobs in these regions.

If you are in search of an IT job, it’s important to consider that jobs in other states may also come with a higher cost of living. Sure, you will make more money in these areas, but you will also most likely spend more just making ends meet.

Mining for IT Talent

Things get a bit more interesting with the injection of the data center into the mix. Cloud computing has done wonders for the IT sector, particularly as a means for companies and enterprises to save money on IT costs. Through virtualization and the use of the cloud, many businesses are choosing to forgo building and maintaining expensive data centers. But that presents an interesting conundrum.

The cloud builds cost and process efficiencies by off-loading data center capabilities, but that means the jobs attached to data center maintenance and buildouts are also reduced. Suddenly, there is less need for system administrators or IT professionals who have the skills to stand up physical server environments. Infrastructure deployments are now done with the click of a mouse or an API call and can be completely automated in some cases.

On the flip side, cloud, infrastructure and data center providers are hiring. They are desperately seeking qualified people to help architect the systems that power their services. Similarly, PC support jobs are being affected by things like Desktop as a Service, which allows for PC environments to be virtualized and hosted in sort of a traditional thin-client scenario.

If you suddenly find yourself at a company that is outsourcing all of its IT to the cloud, ZDNet’s Jason Perlow has one recommendation: “Get thee some new skills. Quickly.” What are these skills, exactly? That really depends on what you’ve previously specialized on in. Below are some recommendations:

  • Look at your traditional training and see how it maps to some of the newer job descriptions.
  • Take some online or offline courses to brush up on new skill sets.
  • Review some of the jobs that interest you. Are there certifications you can acquire that might give you an edge? For example, according to a tom’sIT Pro article, the top 2014 networking certifications are:
    • MCSE – Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert
    • CCNP – Cisco Certified Network Professional
    • RHCE – Red Hat Certified Engineer
    • CompTIA Network+
    • CWNA – Certified Wireless Network Administrator
    • CCIE – Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert
  • Talk to people who have your dream job. Engage with them on social media or elsewhere, and ask them what critical skills you need in order to do the job.
  • Look at some traditional IT positions, and see what may be a more updated or modernized position (e.g., SysAdmins might want to evolve their skill sets to reflect more of a DevOps role).
  • Read and research, and ask the experts lots of questions.

Technology is evolving at breakneck speed. Companies are struggling to keep up and fill positions with competent staff. There is a lot of competition for skilled candidates.

If you are considering a job change and you work in the IT sector, now is the time to dig in and start brushing up on your skills and marketing yourself. This Silicon Gold Rush won’t last forever, but it isn’t showing signs of slowing down (yet).

[image: AKodisinghe/iStock/ThinkStockPhotos ]