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2015 IT Skills That Will Pay Them Bills

Level 13

I’ve talked at length about how technology and skills will fuel the IT career path, including why Hybrid Cloud matters to IT pros. I’ve also talked about how IT generalists, admins with a broad range of IT knowledge (but not very much depth), need to evolve in order to survive. In addition, I have mentioned that two groups of IT professionals are in the best position to not only survive, but thrive. They are the specialists and the versatilists. IT specialists are experts in a particular IT discipline or domain. IT versatilists take it a step further by being experts across a few related IT disciplines. For more context, please refer to my Mission Critical article on the Stack Wars‌. Note that this write-up is gated. It takes skills and tools for IT pros to provide business utility. With this in mind, the important thing for IT pros to answer is, what skills are companies hiring and paying premiums for?

Rich Hein recently published “Hot IT skills that will get you hired and well-paid” on that highlights survey data from tech job site, The numbers of opportunities and average salaries are tremendous for IT professionals. Below are the breakdown of skills, year-over-year growth, average annual salary, and the number of jobs currently listed on


YoY Growth

Avg Salary

Job count









Big data




























  1. Cybersecurity – think about all the corporate hacks that have taken place in the past year or so. Sony, Target, Anthem come to mind. Any data center environment requires infrastructure hardening, including monitoring and logging for forensics.
  2. Puppet – think configuration management at scale. Easy to automate and orchestrate those changes.
  3. Big data, Hadoop, and NoSQL – think about answers to questions that leverage vast amount of disparate and unstructured data—analyzed in a relative short amount of time.
  4. Cloud – think hype or hope for IT operations trying to move at biz operations pace.
  5. Python – think coding at web-scale.
  6. Waterfall – think flowing downwards through all the phases of the software development cycle.
  7. Salesforce – think customer relationship management. The bottom line is all about the business.

Below is the 2014-2015 Dice Salary Survey for Big Data skills. The image is from Rich's article.

Dice Salary Survey.png

IT departments are making tough business-driven decisions on their budgetary spend. Don't stand still with your IT skills. Pick up some IT skills mentioned above and help extend the life of your IT career. And one more thing - go get paid!

Level 17

Good insight, show me the money!

Level 18

I would think knowledge of the LAMP stack over just python would be more relevant since it covers the OS,Apache, DB, and python or perl.

While python is a great language, the syntactical space requirements can take code that is copy and pasted or even forwarded though email to result in code that is now broken.

Level 11

I wonder what it would be like if I only had to specialize in one technology.

Level 13

As IT pros and engineers, periodic baselines are always good. Same with salaries because IT pros should always get paid what the market will bear. There was a Harvard Business Review article stating that, in general, professionals should move companies every 2-3 years to maximize your lifetime earning potential as well as career possibilities.

Level 15

I was thinking the same thing.  I wonder which one technology I could specialize in as well as what my days would be like without being pulled in 900 directions and having to have a breadth of skills -- albeit not necessarily the depth of skills.

Level 13

Each of those technology still requires skills and knowledge from multiple domains and base technology constructs.

Level 13

Excellent list, thanks for sharing. I guess I'd better get cracking on that CISSP.

Level 13

Unless I change jobs, I may not get to those salary numbers.  State government here is pretty stingy on the raises, it follows a step increase chart.  Reclassifying my job to get to a higher classification level last time took over a year to approve and still only gave the equivalent of one step increase in pay.  There is potentially a higher number before I top out in the pay chart now, but it will take 10 years to get there without another reclassification.

Level 15

It is unfortunate to make any serious balance in pay, that  you have to change companies.  I too have been down that path.  I finally figured that the job itself meant more than what I was getting paid.

Level 13

I agree; but it is also painful to not be paid what you are worth. IT pros are often under appreciated and underpaid

Level 12

ok very good

Level 9

I think if I had to pigeon hole myself into a specialty I'd get very bored very fast and end up resenting the position. Money keeps you engaged only so long before it's high wears off

Level 8

I can testify to that study. I moved from being a Service Desk Tech to being a Jr. Security Engineer at the same company, they called it a "lateral move" and gave me no pay bump. A year later, after I proved my knowledge and skills and did the same things as everyone else on the team (as well as earning several certifications) I asked for a raise to be at the market average. They refused, so I found a job somewhere else as a Security Engineer with a 34% jump in pay. That study is pretty accurate, but companies need to get with the times and pay people what they are actually worth. It probably costs them more in the long run to hire replacements anyways.

Level 13

porterseceng‌ - thank you for sharing your experience. And yes, there are studies that show that it's costlier to replace employees than it is to promote and retain current employees.

Level 9

I'm feelin' you on this one. Im in that "lateral move" phase right now. 

Level 21

All one has to do is look at Career Builder's IT Jobs list of salaries and locations to see what's in demand.  I'd love for my employer to just take the raw salary figures and apply them across the organization's job descriptions--without factoring in local cost of living.  ;^)

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Mo Bacon Mo Shakin' Mo Money Makin'! vHead Geek. Inventor. So Say SMEs. vExpert. Cisco Champion. Child please. The separation is in the preparation.