Larger Mix of Skill Sets the Future for IT Workers

IT workers with hybrid skills that mix technology and business management expertise, along with certifications, will be highly sought after as technology jobs grow in the double digits over the next four years, says a tech industry group.

Specialization can be a good thing in technology work, but it's not necessarily the future, contends vendor-neutral, non-profit industry organization CompTIA, which has a major conference going on this week in San Antonio, Texas.

Hybrid skills that combine on-the-job expertise along with training and industry-recognized certifications are necessary. With technology job growth expected to expand by a government-estimated 18 percent by 2014, diversifying your technology, business and management skills will help ensure employment over the long haul.

"Trends in technology are changing the employment landscape," Terry Erdle, senior vice president, skills certification, CompTIA, said in an Aug. 12 statement. "It doesn't mean that we don't need people. It's just a different kind of job."

Skills in security, IT architecture and systems engineering are elemental features of jobs in areas such as cloud computing, health care technology and environmental technology work that is expected to consume many of the jobs in the coming years, suggests CompTIA, which will be releasing certifications in these areas over the course of the next year.

In the meantime, developers, project managers, security specialists and network engineers are skill sets in demand now, said the organization.

At its recent conference, CompTIA announced a new certification for convergence technologies such as VOIP (Voice over IP), unified communications and Web conferencing called "CTP+". CompTIA is probably best known for its Network+ and A+ certifications that teach the fundamentals of networking and hardware technologies.

These two certifications, Network+ and A+, made the top 10 list of the best certifications of 2010 from Erik Eckel, president of two independent technology consulting companies and a former executive editor at TechRepublic. Eckel also placed high regard for Microsoft certifications including the MCITP (Microsoft Certified IT Professional) and the MCTS (Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist). He also regards VPN routing-and-switching certifications such as the CSSA and CCNA from Sonicwall and Cisco. But don't forget security with the CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) or project management with the PMP (Project Management Professional).

He also gives credence to the ACSP (Apple Certified Support Professional) for handling Mac OS X infrastructure, but less to Linux+ and Red Hat and Security+, though he mentions their industry importance but does not see them as much in his work as others.

"[M]y advice for anyone entering the industry or even veterans seeking their first accreditations would be to load up on CompTIA certs," wrote Eckel in an Aug. 17 blog post. "How can you go wrong with the manufacturer-independent certifications that demonstrate mastery of fundamentals across a range of topics, including project management, hardware, networking, security, and voice networks? You could do much worse."