Today’s IT professionals: New roles, new salaries

As the market continues to pick itself up from the rubbles of the dot-com bubble burst of the early 2000, some major shifts are transpiring in the IT employment market.

The continued steady growth in business has led many companies to embark on significant IT transformation initiatives. As a result, recruiters in the IT space are noting some never-before-seen and previously dormant IT positions suddenly being in demand.

The definition of IT professionals has also changed, shedding their tech geek hats from the 90s and putting on a suit and tie tailored for the 21st century.

“When we’re dealing with companies, they are looking for people with more than just IT skills,” said Paul Swinwood, president of the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) based in Ottawa.

IT professionals today must be able to possess or acquire knowledge of other domains or business units in order to keep themselves relevant in the marketplace, said Swinwood.

“If a pipeline company (for instance) is hiring an IT person, they want them to know hydraulics and process control. It’s the domain knowledge where we’re seeing a proliferation of titles,” he said.

Here’s a peek at some of today’s new and emerging roles.

Business systems analyst

Job description: Yet another re-emerging position, the BSA acts as the mediator between business and IT. Think of it as a dual role with the ability to transform from a tech geek to a business advocate.

Demand rationale: As the trend towards system upgrades continue to transpire in the enterprise, companies are looking for people to help bridge the gap between business and IT.

Hard skills/soft skills: The specific pre-requisites for a business analyst is often tailored to a specific company’s needs, said Lavoy. Some of the common requirements, however, include a strong IT and business background, at least two years’ experience in a similar role and strong interpersonal skills.

Salary range: $45,000-95,000

IT finance chief

Job description: Responsible for overseeing the operational budget of the IT department. The role would entail both a strong accounting and IT background, said ICTC’s Swinwood.

Demand rationale: Having a head of IT finance ensures accountability for generating the maximum value from IT investments. In the face of a global economy, organizations, particularly in Canada, are constantly looking to maximize return on each dollar investment, said Swinwood, and IT is a “fairly large percentage of most companies’ investment these days.”

Hard skills/soft skills: Bachelor’s Degree in business, IT or finance. Accounting professionals with a computer science training or an IT professional with an accounting background are likely candidates for this post.

Salary range: US$100,000-150,000 (Canadian salary figures unavailable)

IT risk officer

Job description: While still an emerging role and currently typically a function of the project manager, this role will soon transform into its own being. The IT risk officer conducts forecast, reporting and analyses of risks associated with data handling and security, systems management and regulatory compliance.

Demand rationale: IT and finance risk has started coming up as companies strive to comply with new regulations and financial controls, said Swinwood. As more enterprises adopt an enterprise risk management strategy, the IT risk officer will play a significant role in risk mitigation on the information systems side.

Hard skills/soft skills: Experienced IT professional with strong accounting or audit background and/or a CISSP designation.

Salary range: No data available.

Offshore project manager

Job description: A step further than a project manager, the offshore project manager oversees project requirements and completion of an organization’s offshoring arrangements. This person typically deals with ethical, legal and cultural issues associated with an offshore project.

Demand rationale: “The approach to business in foreign countries vary from what we’re used to in Canada,” said ICTC’s Swinwood. Companies offshoring need a “cultural approach” to project management to calculate the risks and issues associated with a particular project.

Hard skills/soft skills: PMP or PMI designation. In many cases, this person would have international work experience. He must be able to conduct research and analyses on international and foreign regulatory requirements as well as the cultural differences that might affect the conduct of business.

Salary range: US$70,000 – $250,000 (Canadian salary figures unavailable)

Project manager

Job description: Recruiters note a re-emergence of this title after being dormant following the dot-com bust. This person would run projects through completion, ensuring that everything is on track and according to specifications.

Demand rationale: After the dot-come bubble burst, most companies were simply maintaining their IT systems and were typically not developing or upgrading their infrastructure, explained Sandra Lavoy, regional vice-president at Robert Half International. As the market picked up in recent years, companies started to implement system and hardware upgrades, which saw the need for project managers.

Hard skills/soft skills: PMP or PMI designation with at least five years of related experience. The person will have good interpersonal skills, the ability to handle stress and deadline, calculate and forecast usage of people hours, and be attentive to budget expenditures.

Salary range: $65,000-$130,000

Security analyst

Job description: Ensures the organization has all appropriate security measures for the infrastructure and conducts forecasting and analyses of probable threats to enterprise security.

Demand rationale: Heightened global focus on security as well as the availability of corporate and customer data via the Internet are driving the need for a specialized security person in the enterprise, said Mark Stevenson, director of national recruiting at Toronto-based staffing firm CNC Global.

Hard skills/soft skills: Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) designation. Candidate must have at least five years of related experience and a strong financial background in the area of forensics and auditing.

Salary range: $60,000-$130,000

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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