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DC isn’t lacking tech jobs, but is in need of workers with specific tech skills

Software developers and engineers are on the rise in DC while skills like cybersecurity and business intelligence are lacking. We took a deep dive into the state of tech jobs and hiring here.

D.C. wants to stand out in tech. (Photo by Flickr user Pedro Szekely, used under a Creative Commons license)

This editorial article is a part of Technical.ly's How to Get Hired month. Join Technical.ly at our NET/WORK tech jobs fair on March 27.

Maybe Mayor Muriel Bowser tapped into some psychic capabilities when she coined #ObviouslyDC for the region’s tech economy?

Because since the mayor launched this campaign, the District has remained true to its title with the steady influx of tech talent and growing economy. In February the District took a trip to the West Coast to come face to face with leading tech companies. But there’s a major tech company growing right in the District’s back yard: Amazon.

The ecommerce giant has committed to bringing 25,000 tech jobs to Northern Virginia with its second headquarters. Even though they won’t all be developers, Amazon said they were attracted to the region for employees “particularly in software development and related fields—to continue hiring and innovating on behalf of our customers,” since the company plans to hire locally.

Amazon isn’t the only one, New York-based Yext is bringing 500 jobs with a new office, and other big tech companies like Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter already have D.C. offices. And we can’t forget to mention when D.C. tech seemed to cheer the announcement that Yelp was bringing more than 500 sales and marketing jobs back in 2017.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. We pulled some data for D.C. that shows stats about the amount of IT-related jobs, what industry is booming and what skills need more love:

The numbers

As 0f May 2017, the D.C. metro area had 42,910 people in computer and mathematical occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. All but 2,370 of those jobs are in IT-related fields. But what jobs are technologists seeing the most?

According to data compiled by CompTIA and Burning Glass Technologies Labor Insights, there was a 22 percent increase in the number of ads in IT-related fields posted in the D.C. metro area between fiscal year 2017 and 2018, with 188,566 total ads last year.

Surprise surprise, there were 8,740 software development engineer job postings in 2018, which was the most in all the categories. Other top postings include categories Java development, network engineering, systems engineering and systems administration.

So where do we stack up?

In the cities in our immediate proximity, D.C. took the crown for the most postings, leading against Philly’s 70,304 job openings and Baltimore’s 49, 508 openings. According to data compiled by AgileCraft, the average tech job pays $111,321.60 in the D.C. metro area, which is still far off from the highest-paying in San Jose, Calif., which is $132,371.

Both kinds of data were factored in when CompTIA ranked D.C. among the 20 cities on its Tech Towns Index in the fall.

Cybersecurity is still in demand

We’ve talked much about software development and engineering jobs, but according to data compiled by Robert Half Technology, cybersecurity is still the number one sought-after skill in immediate demand at local tech companies.

Robert Half Technology developed an online survey for data about the state of tech hiring in major cities. The survey was conducted by a leading independent research firm and brought in responses from more than 2,800 IT decision makers in 28 major U.S. markets. All IT respondents were screened to have hiring authority for the information systems or information technology department of a company.

Matt Deneroff, branch manager for Robert Half Technology, told Technical.ly that tech hiring is a competitive market for professionals on the job hunt. For the data Robert Half Technology collected for The State of Tech Hiring in Washington, D.C., cloud security and cloud computing ranked just below cybersecurity for skills in immediate demand, but 93 percent of professionals surveyed said that cybersecurity is the number one skill they are currently training for.

“With frequent data breaches and threats, companies need to make sure that their information is safe, security programs are upgraded and defensive protocols are in place in case a data breach does occur. Cybersecurity is, and will continue to be at the forefront for companies in the area,” Deneroff told Technical.ly. “It is a major concern for IT leaders and that is why so many are innovating and investing in their talent. The more security-focused professionals you have in your organization the better off you will be in terms of protecting your own infrastructure. The problem many companies have is that finding and eventually hiring these folks can be a challenge.”

Organizations need professionals who have the expertise to collect, report and analyze large amounts of company data, Deneroff said. Participants said their top concern in their businesses is maintaining the security of their IT systems next to investing in new tech. Deneroff said in order for tech companies to get their workforce equipped with more cybersecurity skills, they need to focus on professional development and start training existing employees as a great retention strategy and efficient solution. He suggested companies send their employees to conferences, industry events or even pay for courses or bring in a specialist to lead trainings.

“With today’s low unemployment, there are more open positions than qualified candidates to fill them. Competition for talent is intense, and companies need to find unique ways to recruit and retain technology professionals,” he said.

Companies: Robert Half Technology / Amazon
Series: How to Get Hired Month 2019

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