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Network World - There's plenty of reason for optimism about IT jobs. CIOs are ramping up hiring, average salaries are climbing, and companies are increasing their investments in core tech areas such as security, mobility and data analytics. Concerns about the economy and budget battles on Capitol Hill have put a damper on the IT job scene, but not enough to thwart expansion.
"We're seeing robust growth in IT jobs, both on the contract side and on the permanent/direct hire side," says Matthew Ripaldi, senior vice president at IT staffing specialist Modis. "It's broad-based, as well. We're seeing growth in a lot of different geographies, across a number of different industries, and in companies of all sizes."
So far, the need to ramp up staffing is trumping reservations about the economy.
"There's still a little uncertainty out there, but companies are moving ahead with their hiring," Ripaldi says. "They need to develop new products and services, they need to upgrade their systems and they need to become more efficient."
"As we continue down 2013, I think we'll see less hesitation, more action by companies," he says.
National employment data, research and industry analysis also point to a healthy job market for tech professionals. Here are 10 indicators we're watching.
[ 2013 JOB WATCH: Top 11 metro areas for tech jobs ]
Fourteen percent of CIOs say they plan to expand their IT departments in the second quarter of 2013, reports Robert Half Technology. In addition, 70% said it's challenging to find skilled professionals today. The skill sets in greatest demand are network administration, cited by 51% of CIOs, and database management, also cited by 51% of CIOs.
As competition for talent gets tighter, hiring managers are responding by offering candidates a wider range of perks, including workplace flexibility. For instance, companies are more willing to allow a job candidate to work from home one day per week, Ripaldi says. "They're more lenient now because they want to attract that talent." In a new survey by Robert Half Technology, 52% of IT workers said a remote working option was somewhat important when considering a new job opportunity, and another 23% said the option to telecommute is very important.
Up to 54% of IT pros actively search for a job at least once a week, according to data from IT staffing provider TEKsystems. More people are willing to consider leaving their current jobs than have been in recent years, says Modis' Ripaldi. "They're feeling better about their job prospects, and they may feel as though they can better their situation, whether through a better rate or a target company or new technologies and skills they can gain."
The IT industry started 2013 with positive momentum on the salary front. Average salaries for tech pros climbed 5.3% to $85,619 in 2012, up from $81,327 in 2011. It was the largest salary jump in more than a decade, according to jobs site Dice.com. Entry-level talent (two years or less experience) waited three years to see an increase in average annual pay -- and the market made up for the stagnancy with an 8% year-over-year increase to $46,315. At the other end of the spectrum, average salaries for tech professionals with at least 15 years of experience topped six-figures for the first time, growing 4% to $103,012.