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Are Your IT Skills Hot or Not? (And Does It Matter?)

Trending Data Means More than Just Data

 

Hot or Not group discussionThe Dice.com hot-and-cold tech skills page is a snapshot of the site's current supply and demand for tech skills. It doesn't show any trends over time for these skills, which is an important consideration. A hot new tech skill may not have many people listing it at the moment. And there may not be a lot of employers looking for it — yet. That same skill, however, could be a great pick for an IT pro to start learning so they can add it to their profile in consideration of future opportunities.

 

Alternatively, there’s the possibility a hot skill has hit its ceiling and is going to start tumbling down the demand axis. You might not necessarily want to dive into an IT skill that has already peaked in the industry.

 

Hot Skills Don’t Always Come with a High Salary

 

While the Dice.com graph shows how many employers are asking for a certain skill, it says nothing about the average compensation being offered to workers who have that skill. While supply-and-demand does act as a general influence where worker compensation is concerned, it doesn’t take niche job markets into account.

 

Tech workers who are able to work with technologies that live off the beaten path can demand excellent compensation for their skills, as there isn’t a large talent pool for employers to choose from. Yes, the number of full-time job opportunities are limited, but specialists in rare tech can make a good living as independent contractors.

 

Chasing the Money Seldom Works

 

Many IT veterans have seen workers chasing after employment dollars by getting trained in whatever tech skill has the biggest current buzz around it. When the next “big thing” arrives, these folks immediately shift gears and try to get the first seat on the new technology bandwagon by cramming their brains full of the latest data.

 

This practice has been popular since MS-DOS was a going concern — and it isn’t any way for a dedicated IT professional to go. Yes, you are expected to keep pace on the IT education treadmill to some extent, the better to stay current and keep your skills relevant. Darting from specialty to specialty, however, in an attempt to continually cash in on the hottest jobs, is a poor way to build a lasting career in the industry.

 

It’s Not Just About Hot or Cold

 

Online tools from job search sites like Dice.com can provide some useful information for candidates looking for the best job opportunities. Bear in mind, however, that they typically do not provide the full picture you need to make well-calibrated decisions about your next career move.

 

 

Aaron Axline is a freelance technology writer based in Canada.ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aaron Axline is a freelance technology writer and knowledge management specialist based in Edmonton, Canada. His work has appeared in titles from Que Publishing, and on many tech blogs and websites. His professional writing site is AaronAxline.blogspot.ca.