Cisco and IDC recently released what they consider the most significant roles in IT right now. Among the 20 they list, what’s relevant for Austin? The nation’s unemployment is at an all-time low (4%) but, in Austin, it’s even lower (2.8%). Rumor has it that the Austin tech sector boasts unemployment even lower than that—at less than 2%—which means it’s running smoothly. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t skill gaps that need filling, especially as technology rapidly evolves.
“The biggest skills gap is in what we consider high-level tech jobs,” explains Jayson Spaits, Managing Director of The HT Group Technical Division. “These are ‘pivot your career’ roles.” We asked him to review the Cisco/IDC research and choose the IT jobs he thinks fits that definition for Austin tech workers. His top picks include:
- IoT Designer/Developer/Engineer: Have you been in Home Depot lately and walked by the new refrigerators that connect to the internet, create lists and show what is currently in your fridge? Now, something that was a straight hardware/electrical engineering job (wiring a refrigerator and making it run correctly) has also turned into a software developer job. “Checking your NEST thermostat from your phone, having a Smart Lock or Ring doorbell camera…you’re able to do these things thanks to the IoT,” says Spaits. “Jobs once reserved for skilled laborers and assembly lines now need software designers, developers, and” The HT Group Technical Recruiting Manager Allen Kadilis adds that firmware engineers and designers are particularly in demand to write low-level code into the hardware. “Many firmware specialists are retiring, so a new wave of young coders is needed,” he says.
- Mobile Applications Developer: The New York Post says the average American checks their phone 80 times a day. You probably wouldn’t disagree with that estimate for yourself. “It’s a huge market with unlimited potential as new technology and applications come out,” Spaits says. There are more than 60 mobile app development firms in Austin alone. Add that to the staggering number of Austin startups and companies hiring their own mobile developers, and you’ve got yourself a stable career field. “Our phones aren’t going away anytime soon, so it’s a safe bet to get into mobile app development,” he adds.
- Cyber/Information Security Engineer/Analyst: All the apps and computer programs developed by IoT and mobile specialists need to be secured, of course, which brings us to the next area. “Cybersecurity is a huge market because it’s needed across the board to make all our transactions safe,” Spaits says. “Everyone hears about the huge hacks that make the news but think about how many are stopped by people behind the scenes. That market isn’t going away.”
- Machine Learning and Data Engineer/Data Scientist: Are you a math nerd? “This emerging market encompasses AI and is focused in mathematics and algorithms,” Spaits explains. “Most employers hiring for machine learning look for job candidates with hardware/math backgrounds who can help with very minute data. Smaller companies hiring in this area are specifically looking for candidates who can help them scale the technology as they grow. How else will we successfully program our robot overlords?”
Spaits’ advice for tech workers looking to pivot their careers comes in two parts. First, get the word out.
“Austin is very much a networked town. Whether you know it or not, you have probably worked with people in your career that are now in a capacity to hire or put in a good word for you at their current companies,” he says. “Go to industry happy hours and get a free drink, calm your nerves, and MEET SOME PEOPLE.”
He recommends joining Austin Digital Jobs on Facebook for advice and tips on how to interview and to get a general pulse on the Austin tech market. They also host ADJ Recruiting Mixers, opportunities to get out in the market and feel around. “Plus, Lani Rosales is a great administrator and cheerleader. You should meet her,” Spaits recommends.
His second piece of advice is to accept help. “Recruiters aren’t all bad and can be a valuable resource for you,” he says. “Link up with a few good ones and have them get you out to their network. We truly want to help you get in the right place. At The HT Group, we like to say we change at least two people’s lives for the better when we place somebody (the candidate and the client). We truly believe that and live it as one of our core values.”
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