The state of the IT contractor job market in 2017

Trends toward higher pay and demand for specialized skills continue apace, creating opportunities for contractors across the industry.

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In 2017, strong demand for IT talent will continue in several roles and industries. Understanding how to wring business value from vast stores of data, knowing how to protect that data from increasingly sophisticated threats and navigating the murky waters of freelancing will characterize the tech job market.

Searching for pins in the data haystack

Low-cost sensors and digital storage have made it easier than ever to accumulate and store data. But is that data adding any business value? That’s where data scientists and business intelligence analysts come into play. “Recently, I’ve seen high demand for individual contributor contractor roles for professionals specialized in ERP and business intelligence,” says Keeran Persaud, senior fulfillment manager at CDI Global Staffing Services. In terms of specific technologies, Cognos and SAS are seeing increased demand. The potential to reduce expenses or gain new customers with better data continues to drive demand.

Cybersecurity commands premium rates

Demand for cybersecurity talent continues to favor IT professionals with these skills. According to a Center for Strategic and International Studies report titled “Hacking The Skills Shortage,” cybersecurity positions pay almost 10 percent more than other IT jobs in the U.S. The center’s research across several countries found several skills in particularly high demand: intrusion detection, secure software development and attack mitigation. Based on a survey of IT decision makers in the U.S. and other countries, inadequate government action on cybersecurity was a concern. In the survey, 76 percent of respondents said their government is not investing enough in developing cybersecurity talent.

Faced with continued high demand for cybersecurity talent, companies are experimenting with new ways to engage cybersecurity specialists. In late 2016, Qualcomm announced that it will pay up to $15,000 to cybersecurity “bounty hunters” (read: independent contractors) who detect problems in the company’s products, which include semiconductors and cellular modems.

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