- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 29, 2011

It’s a good time to be job-hunting in the technology world.

Tech workers should have no trouble finding jobs, even as the larger economy struggles with high unemployment, because companies are competing for a “shortage” of talent. According to a new study released last week, there are more than 75,000 tech openings across the country.

“American businesses are crying out for tech-savvy talent,” the report issued by Dice.com, a jobs site for high-tech workers, says. “And they’re not finding it — at least not enough of it.”

Dice.com has noticed a 60 percent spike in openings from the height of the recession, and postings have jumped 19 percent since last year alone. The unemployment rate in the tech industry is a low 3.7 percent.

In the Washington and Baltimore areas, there are 7,314 job openings, the study found, more than in Silicon Valley. That’s a slight 3 percent decline from a year ago, but the region still ranks near the top of the national list for total openings.

“We’ve have seen some hesitancy in recruiting in Washington, D.C., related to ongoing discussions around the long-term government budget,” Dice spokeswoman Rachel Ceccarelli said.

Tech workers here can expect to make $89,149 a year, compared with the average of $79,384 for the rest of the country.

Alice Hill, managing director of Dice.com, said in-demand employees can leverage the market need to gain greater salary increases.

“It’s a really great opportunity to negotiate a higher starting salary,” she said. “You want to get it as high as possible.”

Because of the talent shortage, many tech companies are afraid other companies will steal their workers. “Poaching is a big thing,” Miss Hill said. “If you can go to a competitor and grab one of their top tech people, that’s a big shortcut for you, and it takes the wind out of your competitor’s sails.”

Another option is recent college graduates, who can expect to make about $47,000 a year. But that market is shrinking. In 2004, there were about 60,000 graduates with a computer-related degree, but that number has since fallen to about 38,000.

“There was a fear that all these jobs would be outsourced and then you wouldn’t have a need for any tech jobs in the U.S.,” Miss Hill said, “and that’s just proven to be untrue.”

“There are easily two or three jobs for every computer science grad,” Anne Hunter of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said in the report. “Easy.”

Mobile development and cloud-computing are two of the hottest areas for technology jobs right now, Miss Hill said. Demand for technology professionals with Android skills was up 260 percent, and demand for those with iPhone skills was up 166 percent. Because these technologies are so new, there are a number of opportunities for workers with relatively little experience.

“Take mobile. It’s so new that you’re not going to find someone with 10 years of iPhone experience,” she said.