2011, Strong Job Gains in Technology-O'Reilly School of Technology
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2011 Seeing Strong Private Sector Job Gains in Technology

Great news in 2011: the jobs are coming back–and fast. Businesses are currently hiring at their most rapid pace since 2006, according to an AP article by Jeannine Aversa published on May 6th:

The job growth was better than economists expected and perhaps the strongest sign yet that what they call a “virtuous cycle” has taken hold: When people spend more, corporate earnings rise, leading to more hiring and then more spending.

More great news: a good portion of the returning jobs are in information technology and software engineering. According to Ruth Mantell of the Wall Street Journal:

Information-technology also will be adding jobs as companies that have been sitting on cash will want to upgrade their technology to gain a competitive edge as the economy emerges from the recession, says John Challenger, chief executive of outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas in Chicago.

“A lot of companies over the last couple of years have cut down their spending on IT,” Mr. Challenger says. “But, as we know, technology takes quantum leaps every few years. So there is technology that companies are buying, and they will need people who can come in and implement it, customize it, teach people how to use it [and] provide technical support.”

Andrew Striber of the job-search board CareerCast even goes a step further, declaring Software Engineer to be the Best Job of 2011:

What helped Software Engineer capture the title of America’s Best Job? While many factors push a career to the top of the rankings, the strong performance of Software Engineer this year can be attributed to two emerging industries: web applications and cloud computing. A proliferation of companies making applications for smartphones and tablets, along with the push to develop “cloud” software hosted entirely online, has made the job market for Software Engineers broader and more diverse. And a diverse job market brings improvements in stress factors such as Growth Potential and Competitiveness, as workers become less beholden to employers or vulnerable to outsourcing. In fact, the stress ranking for Software Engineer improved 10 spots this year, jumping from 25th to 15th place overall.

Even better, these jobs in IT and software engineering aren’t just for job seekers with previous experience, nor are they limited to large, established corporations.

Where the Jobs Are: Technologies

If you’re wondering where to start training to take advantage of the influx of IT jobs this year, take a look at this chart:


This graph shows which technologies are in demand for available IT jobs in 2011. The blue portion of each bar indicates how much training demand there is for that particular language, in other words, the popularity of the language. If the majority of a bar for a technology is green, it indicates a shortage of skilled workers in that area. Conversely, if the bar is mostly blue, this means that the market is pretty well saturated with skilled workers in that particular technology. As you can see from the above image this kind of graph is widely using in forex trading websites such as this Australian forex trading website.

It’s especially interesting that the biggest shortages of skilled IT professionals are found in older, more established technologies such as Java, JavaScript, C#, SQL, and even the ancient C++. It’s often forgotten during the rush to learn “hot” technologies like Objective C and Actionscript, that there is a massive base-layer of corporate software written in those older languages that won’t be going away anytime soon.

As you decide whether an investment in training is a good one for you, and which technology to learn, consider growth trends in the number of jobs in specific technologies.
Java, for instance, had diminished popularity a few years ago, but it has come back steadily and appears to be on a consistent upward path. It’s safe to say that large corporations will rely on Java for years to come.

And Python jobs are on the rise too, gaining ground faster than the training available to learn it. It’s a powerful language that will certainly take hold in larger corporations (like Google), and it will also be relied on heavily by startups and smaller corporations that don’t have to deal with large legacy code burdens.

You’ll definitely want to do your research on jobs in your area as well, to find out what technologies they’re looking for: for example, in Seattle, they’re looking for C# programmers, while San Francisco has lots of opportunities using PHP. Of course, the higher the demand is for programmers of a particular technology, the safer bet your investment in learning that technology becomes.

Once you decide that you want a shot at the next round of IT jobs out there, and which technology you want to learn, start preparing yourself right away. The jobs are coming, but you’ve got to have the right tools and be ready to pursue the right opportunity for you when you see it.

  • L Monge

    Hmmmm….is it too late for me to learn Java? Can you start with that, or should you take other courses first?

    by the way…..greetings to you, Tricia!

  • http://www.oreillyschool.com Trish Gray

    Is that you, Mrs. Monge? Wow – long time no see!

    (Nerd Reunion Alert: Mrs. Monge was a math teacher at my high school alma mater, as well as my scholastic bowl coach who inspired my life in so many ways…)

    To answer your question: It’s never too late to learn Java! Java 1 ( http://www.oreillyschool.com/courses/java1/ ) is a pretty basic course, but it’s helpful to know at least a little bit about programming with object-oriented concepts before diving right in.

    I’m sure you’d be okay with your extensive math background, but if you’re worried about it, or if you take Java 1 and find you’re a bit lost, you can go back and start with our “Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming” course: http://www.oreillyschool.com/courses/java/

    Just drop me a line if you have any other questions, or just want to catch up. I’d love to hear from you! My best to you and your family.

    Take care,

  • Lorri Coey


    This is exciting news for so many people.

    I love the graph, that certainly helps think about where to start.

    Where did you find the data about what programming technologies are in demand in different areas? I’d love to take a look at what’s happening here in central Illinois.


  • http://www.oreillyschool.com Trish Gray

    Hi Lorri,

    Regarding localized demand for technologies, I don’t know of any cohesive data out there at the moment. You pretty much have to research IT job listings in your area, from the local papers to sites like Dice.com, Monster and CareerBuilder. From there you can figure out the patterns of technologies which have propagated, mainly led by major corporations in the area.

    For instance, the reason I give .NET as an example for Seattle is that Microsoft’s headquarters are located near there. This means that not only would you need Windows-based skills to work at Microsoft, but there are also many offshoots and startups in that area that have come from Microsoft talent. In essence, although it’s not 100% the case, Microsoft has grown a pretty substantial niche for MS technologies in the greater Seattle area. Conversely, the Bay Area (O’Reilly in particular) has been the epicenter of the Open Source community, championing innovation in technologies such as PHP, Perl, Python, and JavaScript.

    For Central Illinois, the major players are the University of Illinois system, State Farm, and Caterpillar. State Farm and Caterpillar in particular have a lot of overlap in the technologies they use: Java and Oracle, HTML and .NET, even COBOL. University of Illinois, being the pioneer and hotbed for IT innovation that it is, is blessed with departments that support almost any type of technology out there – there’s just that pesky problem of Illinois being broke, causing a hiring freeze for all state schools.

    Knowing these types of things for your area can only empower you to take advantage of opportunities that arise, if you are willing to make the investment to prepare yourself.

    Thanks for posting Lorri! Hope this helps your students and alumni.

  • BK

    Is there any demand at all for electrical engineers besides power companies? I see that over the last 5-10 years that universities are combining electrical and computer engineering, but really it seems more focused on software engineering and not so much electronics. What is the breakdown of new jobs offered in these areas at all levels?

  • http://www.wistly.net Carson Chittom

    If I were your teacher, I’d fail you for that graph. Where are the data from? What’s the scale of the graph? If the value of the last six items actually is zero (as it appears), why bother to include them? If it isn’t zero (as I suspect), why haven’t you adjusted the scale to show useful values?

    Also, I’m sure lots of folks use awk in their jobs, but are there really people whose job is awk?

  • http://www.oreillyschool.com Trish Gray

    Hi Carson,

    You’re right in that there are no labels to show the scale of the graph. The purpose of our graph isn’t to help compile a complete and detailed census of all programmers’ activity and their whereabouts, but rather to provide readers with a broad idea of the trends in programming and which languages are likely to provide the most opportunity in the near future. We compiled the graphs with the help of our own recent marketing and sales figures, just to offer a ballpark idea and visual sense of where the trends are for specific technology demand within IT jobs. So no, there are no “awk” jobs, but like most IT jobs in current times, several technologies are used together within, say, a system administration job, so each is in demand.

    Of course like all statistics they are subject to interpretation. I hope you were able to extract some helpful information from the text of post.


  • http://www.oreillyschool.com Trish Gray

    Hi BK,

    I graduated in Computer Science at the University of Illinois way back in the 90’s, and was familiar with Electrical Engineering only through the Electrical and Computer Engineering courses that I took to fulfill the hardware portion of my degree. I am a software engineer through and through, so I can’t really speak to your question more than my own experience allows. However, I will ping our lead System Administrator Trent – who earned the same degree as me, but in a much more hardware-focused way – to see if he has any perspective for you on this.

    I will say that nowadays, almost every electronic device you see – dishwashers, car dashboards, space heaters, you name it – includes a computer chip within it. So it does make sense to me that electrical and computer engineering would now go hand-in-hand even more than when I was in school.

    Based on this (and again understand the limits of my expertise here), I would assume that understanding how electronics work with microchip design, logic, and at least assembly language software would throw open the career doors for any electrical engineer out there.

    Hopefully this helps,

  • Bill Carver

    First of all, I am enrolled in Python 1 and it has been a very positive experience. Great format and good instructor.

    I keep looking for a class or series around SQL which includes T-SQL…Any plans to include these for the MS product??

  • Van Breakdown Cover

    It’s especially interesting that the biggest shortages of skilled IT professionals are found in older, more established technologies such as Java, JavaScript, C#, SQL, and even the ancient C++. It’s often forgotten during the rush to learn “hot” technologies like Objective C and Actionscript, that there is a massive base-layer of corporate software written in those older languages that won’t be going away anytime soon.

  • Nate

    I’m interested in learning VB.Net or C# but the these courses are no longer available?

  • http://www.oreillyschool.com Trish

    Hey guys,

    Sorry to Bill and Nate – somehow your comments flew under my radar so I just saw them!

    Bill, I hope you enjoyed the Python 1 course. Right now we are looking into options for refreshing our SQL and PHP courses – I will put in a plug for T-SQL but I can’t guarantee it. We’re also looking into NoSQL techniques and technologies.

    Nate, we took down our very old VB.NET and C#.NET courses; however, there are now new C#.NET 1 and 2 courses, with 3 and 4 slated for release this year. Soon you will be able to earn a Certificate in C#.NET through the latest Visual Studio Sandbox and up-to-date course materials.


  • Gorgh Smith

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