Networking Skills Still Crucial

 
 
By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2001-12-31
 
 
 

A healthy appetite for acquisitions has given Bank One Corp. a new hunger. Like a lot of enterprises, it now has an urgent need for many network engineers to help digest the infrastructure its acquired over the past decade.

"Were in the process of converting those [acquisitions] into a single set of application systems and [one] platform," said CIO Austin Adams, in Chicago. Bank One announced this month that it will be hiring 600 IT pros over the next three months to help it consolidate its mostly proprietary financial applications. Bank One is looking particularly for network engineers with experience in administration, operations and/or voice/network applications.

Its not alone. Networking experienced the hottest growth—at 24 percent—of any job category in the 2002 Salary Guide survey of 1,650 CIOs by tech recruiting company RHI Consulting, in Menlo Park, Calif. And out of the 133 categories of IT skills and certifications IT skills consultancy Foote Partners LLC tracked for its second-quarter 2001 Pay Index, salaries for networking jobs—specifically, engineering and operations jobs—were the two highest-growth areas, said the consultancys president and chief research officer, David Foote, in New Canaan, Conn.

Networking skills will always be hot because theyre a crucial ingredient that enterprises need as they continue to build vital business connections, Foote said. "All of a sudden, its become not just a cost issue but the fact that youre doing business with so many people [business-to-business]," he said. "Now were saying, If networks go down, youre losing business. Youre losing customers."

Its easy to see why network engineers are crucial to maintain and expand e-business: After all, they not only administer and expand LANs and WANs, including integration of voice and data and wireless technologies, but they also incorporate distributed data, trouble-shoot technical problems and protect enterprises information resources from cyber-harm.

According to Scot Melland, president and CEO of New York-based Dice Inc., which runs the Dice.com IT job site, now is the time for network engineers to tout their certifications or get new ones. Melland said Cisco-certified engineers stand a much better chance in todays job market than network managers who lack the coveted certification. "Given the demand for networking, Cisco-certified engineers are looking very positive right now," he said.

Station Casinos Inc. Vice President of IT Marshall Andrew is looking forward to the first quarter of next year, when he expects the gaming companys hiring freeze to thaw. Andrew said the companys migration of its 10-casino network from asynchronous transfer mode to Gigabit Ethernet has led to a need for networking expertise in supporting those technologies. "Especially in the networking area, its so hard to keep up with changing technology," said Andrew, in Las Vegas.

And while Andrew is a firm believer in training currrent staff, hes still looking forward to hiring fresh faces. Why? Because his IT staff tends to be more than just employees; they tend to be casino patrons. "Theyre our best customers," Andrew said.

Senior Writer Anne Chen contributed to this story.

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