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Spiceworks 2017 Tech Career Outlook Reveals Upcoming Job Hoppers

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

The Spiceworks Tech Career Outlook for 2017 reveals if IT professionals feel appreciated, what kinds of challenges they expect to face, and what sorts of skills and knowledge they believe essential.

Peter Tsai Source: Spiceworks/LinkedInPeter Tsai Source: Spiceworks/LinkedInAt Spiceworld in Austin, Texas, the annual convocation for  the 5 million-plus members of the Spiceworks community, the company released its annual 2017 Tech Career Outlook. I spoke to the report's author, Peter Tsai, to get insight on its background and contents, in particular how the Spiceworks community regards IT certification as a career development or enhancement tool. The report reveals money may be a key motivation for some to seek out new jobs in the coming year.

Job Satisfaction

The goal of the survey is to learn if IT professionals feel appreciated at work, what kinds of challenges they expect to face, and what sorts of skills and knowledge they believe essential. For job satisfaction, 61 percent felt appreciated by their employer and coworkers.

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IT pros were a little less than positive when it came to compensation and raises. Nearly the same percentage – 59 percent – reported that they "aren't paid what they're worth in IT." Only 24 percent are expecting raises of more than 5 percent for 2017, and only 12 percent are expecting promotions for that year.

Thus, it's entirely understandable that 45 percent of respondents are planning to begin looking for a new job, or to accept a new job, in 2017. Some 64 percent of those said they'd consider a move for the money. Interestingly, 69 percent said they'd "change jobs to advance their IT skills, which could benefit their overall career prospects in the future."

Upcoming Challenges

"Getting management to understand the importance of IT" emerged as the biggest challenge, according to 55 percent of all respondents. In the same vein, 53 percent said the second biggest challenge will be "getting business leaders to approve or fund important IT projects."

In fact, Spiceworks' 2017 State of IT Report affirms this proposition, in that IT pros described 2017 IT budgets as flat for 2017 even though 60 percent of organizations forecast revenue growth for next year. Other challenges that round out the mix for respondents included: keeping IT Infrastructure up-to-date (47 percent) and upgrading end-of-life software or OSes on time (47 percent).

Essential IT Skills

Given that the biggest reason for IT pros to change jobs in 2017 is to advance their IT skills, it's important to understand which skills they perceive as most important or valuable. Cybersecurity tops that list, with 95 percent of respondents reporting them as essential for IT success. Surprisingly, personal networking and soft skills also come in at 95 percent. In that vein, respondents stressed deftly handling job interviews, negotiating raises and working effectively with managers and colleagues among those skills.

Other core technical skills that received mention included computer networking (95 percent), virtualization (92 percent) and cloud architecture (72 percent). Frankly, I'm surprised that cloud topics didn't register at or above 90 percent as well, given their ongoing and ever-increasing importance at all scales of IT.

When it comes to training and personal development plans, 62 percent of IT pros plan to improve their skills and knowledge in cybersecurity by attending training or pursuing a related certification. This could mean folks will have to pay for it out of their own pockets, though.

A recent Spiceworks cybersecurity report indicates that many of its member organizations are reluctant to pay for cybersecurity training for employees. But because 55 percent of Spiceworks member organizations do not currently employ or contract for an in-house cybersecurity expert, this suggests that the investment should be a good one in terms of job retention and new job prospects.

Survey Background

Spiceworks has been conducting all kinds of surveys for several years now, according to Tsai, and they are usually represented as the "Voice of IT." Given the size and activity level of its sizable member population, it should be no surprise to learn that (a) Spiceworks staffs and operates an in-house "Data Science Team" to observe and analyze the copious traffic and threads on its forums and (b) that it's surveying that population on a more or less continuous basis.

Questions for these and other annual surveys and reports usually emerge from the most active topics and discussions in the forums, says Tsai, where survey answer options also come from careful observation of those back-and-forth exchanges.

This year's survey encompassed almost 500 IT professionals with the majority from North America, followed by respondents from Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Analysis of company size for respondents show they come primarily from companies or organizations with less than 500 employees (67 percent for 1 to 499) with only 15 percent working for organizations with more than 1,000 employees.

There's a fair bit of management involvement with Spiceworks in these companies, too. Though 33 percent report Network or System Administrator job titles, 56 percent are an IT Manager, IT Director, Owner/CEO/President or VP IT/CIO. This was quite consistent with the makeup of the crowd I saw at this year's conference.

Bottom Line

My takeaway from this report is that IT pros who work (or want to work) in the SMB world would be smart to invest in their own education and certification in any or all of the core technical skills mentioned in the Spiceworks 2017 Tech Career Outlook. This corresponds closely to other hot skills and topics lists. Thus, it makes good sense to check out the TIP hot certifications stories in all of these areas for targets of opportunity: cybersecurity (information security), networking, virtualization, and cloud computing. It's nearly impossible to go wrong with any of them.