IT Policies

Don't expect these five high-tech skills to bring you more money

If pay rate for a skill is any indication of its value, there are some IT skills that look to be well on their way to extinction. A recent piece from Network World listed the five high-tech skills that don't command the pay that they once did. Here's the rundown on the five skills.

If pay rate for a skill is any indication of its value, there are some IT skills that look to be well on their way to extinction. A recent piece from Network World listed the five high-tech skills that don't command the pay that they once did:

1. Plain old HTML

The article says that the demand for skills in HTML programming is declining as companies start to embrace Web 2.0 technologies.

2. Legacy programming languages

Skills centered around programming languages such as Cobol, Fortran, PowerBuilder, and more, don't rate as highly as they once did. In fact, the article quotes recent research by Foote Partners IT, which revealed that Cobol, PowerBuilder, and Jini noncertified skills were among the lowest-paying skills in the second half of 2007.

3. NetWare

Research quoted in the article seems to bear out that Windows Server and Linux skills have either replaced, or are replacing, NetWare skills in terms of demand.

4. Non-IP network

IP and Internet skills have usurped non-IP network expertise.

5. PC tech support

According to the article:

CompTIA surveyed 3,578 IT hiring managers to learn which skills would grow in importance over time and the industry organization found: "The skill area expected to decline the most in importance is hardware."

Foote Partners' research separately showed an 11.1% decline in pay over the last six months of 2007 for ITIL skills, which are often put in place to streamline IT service management and help desk efforts.

Is this news? Do you agree or disagree?

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

209 comments
thephpdeveloper
thephpdeveloper

I loved the effect of new technologies, such as AJAX in the Web2.0. yea, one day they might also be out of the game, but who cares, i love them now!

theonlyrealpersonhere
theonlyrealpersonhere

This article reinforces the myth that the primary skill is the programming language itself. It is not. A real programmer can use *any* programming language because the underlying concepts do not change. There is no real connection between, for example, object-orientation and any particular language (exception being the calculator programming language known as Fortran). What we are dealing with is the ever-expanding circle of falsification of reality and history - spearheaded by the beast himself, Bill Gates. For example, having obtained a monopoly on BASIC, our Bill falsified the mnemonic so he could market M$ C compilers, changing Business And Scientific Instruction Code to Beginner's Allpurpose Symbolic Instruction Code or some such similar lie. After that, all the newbies spewed out the anti-BASIC propaganda lies as though they actually knew what they were talking about when it was clear that not a single one of them had a clue about the language. To return to my original point, it is the programmer, not the language, that produces bad code. This truth does not, however, match the false realities of employment agencies and college professors and so has been suppressed so that 'computer science' (*bad* English, too - it should be 'computational science') graduates, who are largely indistinguishable from monkeys with typewriters, can hopefully get jobs. It's not their faults as they were lied to - programming is an art not a science and artists are born not made - but once again the truth doesn't pay college professors' salaries.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

Just ask your Computer Science department head to talk about HTML once!

Joy Phillip
Joy Phillip

Yep, this is news. Hardware/software support at the desktop is just as important as it ever was, especially in a corporate environment. But those managers are shooting themselves in the foot thinking it's not important. All the fancy tech in the world is useless if the user can't connect to it because of a broken PC. But then, I'm a PC Tech and a HTML programmer, so my several thousand dollar education is little better than learning to say "Do you want fries with that?"

LarryD4
LarryD4

If the data is truely non-biased and the trend is moving away from hardware knowledge, it will come back to bite us in the ass... My most fustrating situations occur when I deal with developers that have no clue about hardware. We have to many developers that work with blinders on and only concentrate on the code. I think as the trend to under pay people with hardware knowledge and training occurs, it will eventually cause a backlash. Its going to be the people with Hardware\Networking\Development experience that will replace them. The people who can see the big picture rather then just one aspect of the entire need of the development lifecycle.

chas_2
chas_2

1. Plain old HTML I have never understood why someone would code HTML source rather than use a WYSIWYG tool like Dreamweaver. HTML can always be tweaked by hand, but coding someting in HTML from the ground up? How efficient is that? 2. Legacy programming languages No surprise there. Microsoft's .NET platform and Sun's Java are the skills to have now. 3. NetWare NetWhat? I haven't run into anyone who's been a NetWare expert and I've been in the I-T field for over 20 years. 4. Non-IP network Again, not a surprise. 5. PC tech support This pronouncement surprises me - especially with Vista having come out only a year ago and Windows 7 on the horizon. If salaries have dipped for help desk it's only a matter of time before they rise again - new technologies produce new questions and new techies need to be there to hold hands. *** Regardless of whether salaries for these positions are on the decline or not, even "older" I-T positions pay better than a majority of other occupations (except, perhaps, the "classic" fields like medicine, education, law, etc.).

erslincoln
erslincoln

I completely agree with this assessment. Where I live, I don't know of any companies using NetWare, many are using service bureaus of some kind for helpdesk functions, and like any other technology, old methodologies will eventually die, such as html and legacy programming languages. I've even seen drastic declines in other areas. Windows system administrators on consistently starting in the 30s now, instead of ten or more thousand per year more five years ago. Too many schools churning out too many new graduates. Saturation is bad.

btd
btd

I've been telling people trying to break into the business for years that the computer field is quickly becoming a "Fast Food" industry and to be careful of the track they want to follow... McDonald's (Geek Squad) or High End Steakhouse (corporate or private consulting).

timberly.marek
timberly.marek

This is an interesting claim... "Foote Partners??? research separately showed an 11.1% decline in pay over the last six months of 2007 for ITIL skills, which are often put in place to streamline IT service management and help desk efforts." The combination of 'ITIL' under PC Tech Support surprises me. As someone who has completed the ITIL Foundations curriculum and been involved quite a bit in IT process engineering, I know that ITIL goes leagues beyond PC tech support. What about capacity management, service level management, financial management? This isn't all front line call center tech support ... much of this is big time IT infrastructure management (think data centers, mainframes, etc.). So is the allegation that companies are putting less money into their sustainable business and technology processes? That could very well be. Or is this section alleging that front-line, come-to-your-desk PC support roles are less desired by employers?

ramesh_thanjavur
ramesh_thanjavur

The subject is not outsource or insource. It is about skills in IT field which are going to phase out and replaced with new technologies and skills. The phenomena is Global..like telegraphy replaced with internet/email.

mmurray49
mmurray49

Was it 1995 or so - people predicted Apple's imminent demise? Had I only not listened and bought stock then when shares were down to like $17.00... IT isn't going anywhere. HOW IT is done will likely change and not all companies are on the cutting edge...

mikemc3
mikemc3

I slightly disagree with PC-Tech skills being on the way out. While you're not going to be paid alot of money for this. Let's face it, the reality of this (from REAL-WORLD experience, and not some stupid study) is that whether it be from outsourcing, contracting, or direct hire (Direct hire being nearly impossible if you want to work for the Fed or DOD), there will always be a need for Tier-1 support techs somewhere. It could just be the guy who answers the phone and creates the ticket. And quite frankly, I feel (from 10-years experience climbing the IT ladder), when your starting out, doing Desktop Support is the way to go if you want practical experience dealing with customer's and if you want to eventually get into Network Engineering and specialize in something like Exchange, SMS, or any other back-end server related skill, this solidifies your basic skill-set. What people need to realize is that you can't start a career (in IT or any field for that matter) at the same level as some guy with boat-loads of experience, certifications, and a Degree. Almost everyone starts in the "Mailroom"!! Or in the case of IT, PC-Support. P.S. Would LOVE to hear other opinions on this post.

pomomatthew
pomomatthew

Does anyone have to deal with an IT department that is the department in your office that seems to know the least about new trends as it relates to office environments? I've been working for months now trying to strongarm a more collaborative environment, I've been trying to insist on more rapid deployment, but they're slow as can be and fear things like VMWare and open source - and we're a large, profitable company whose products are technologically 'with the times'. It's ridiculous - they're the hindrance, not the end user.

siva.s
siva.s

yes even nowadays PERL prof are getting down because of JavaScripts and other cutting edge tech, But only person who know Perl Knows its advantages

tony.bittan
tony.bittan

I'm surprised to learn that HTML skills are on the decline because of web 2.0 - what exactly are web 2.0 pages built with if it isn't HTML?

lorenfoster
lorenfoster

he he, still have an article from Datamation magazine that says COBOL is dead.. Sept 1968.... As these old legacy languages start to die, the applications that are written in them still run.. Fewer new folks want to hang their careers on them.. Older folks clean up... This is a good thing...

reed-charles
reed-charles

PC Support. Yes, more people know more about it but I can see: 1. higher skill levels by support staff who go in remotely and use more tools to migrate, reload, etc. 2. Far higher expectation by the users. There may be fewer professionals doing the support but I'd say their skill levels have to to be greater. Really seeing lower pay?

ChrisEvans
ChrisEvans

I dont think that ITIL skills have reduced in importance, simply that as usual the 'consultant' bubble may have burst and the normal man in the street has realised that you dont have to be an alchemist to deploy it. ITIL is so entrenched in so many places that its lack of visibility is more due to the fact that it has become a 'standard' requirement rather than a holy grail of recruitment.

alxnsc
alxnsc

Dear, If payment is for labour used or productivity then horses and mules are to be best payed. It is for service so serviced are better payed not servicemen. Sad but true... Don't expect Cobol or Assembly language programmers to be well payed for processing most of the world's data. Mister El Gato is...

kehill50
kehill50

Just out of curiosity, how long have you been in development? Are you an application developer or, to phrase differenctly, just what does a multimedia person do exactly?

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

though not with all your reasoning. Fortran has it's problems but it's still very good when you use it to it's strengths, how many other languages come with complex numbers built in for instance? Not often you need them for a straight business CRUD application, I'll admit. :p Coding is a science, programming is a skill, and development is an art. Anyone can code, that's just language knowledge. Those with a talent for programming can discover it and polish it. The art of development, lets face it most of the time most of us are plagiarising. :D The dumbing down of programming in fact of IT in general, is well irritating, but it's progress. It's just a progression like from paired oxen to a tractor. You get more out of a tractor, it's not necesarily better, but if it's good enough it will do. Academia and the cert industry. Well more people can code than program, it's much easier to teach and mark. And if programming was allowed to be the skill as opposed to the dialect of code, that would mean the loss of a lot of lucrative business opportunities.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

what your Computer Science department head says about HTML, Balthor?

sboverie
sboverie

I work in an area where PC support has split into hardware and software support. The problem is the software support folks tend to think hardware failure before they even check most problems. The result, the people in hardware support end up supporting software. If you don't understand how the hardware works, then it is just magic that make PC's work. We have software support freak out over memory errors as in "Insufficient memory" and ask the hardware support to add memory. If you don't understand what the error means you will not be able to diagnose or repair the problem. If all you know is the hardware, then you will go no where. Apple does expect the technician to know both hardware and software because the hardware/software design are closely related. At this time, PC support is not a great paying job and the new computers that come out have different problems and quirks that take time to learn. It would be good if PC support could be a good income, the problem is that there are so many mediocre and lazy techs that have given the rest of PC support a bad name. When I freelance, I end up fixing problems that other techs add to customer's computers.

mikemc3
mikemc3

You still have some small companies that have their servers setup, then shoved in a closet or some out of the way place. Especially in places that are non-IT businesses like Hospitals, Clinics, Corporate office of some Grocery Store chain, etc. Some (but not all, thank God, LOL) Government agencies are notorious for laging behind when it comes to Network Tech / IT.

brian.kronberg
brian.kronberg

Yes there will always be tier 1 support jobs but do not expect to get paid typical IT wages. Call centers will continue to get outsourced. The only companies that do not outsource to call centers are companies that do not have mature IT organizations (no well documentated tier 1 processes) or cannot outsource for security reasons. Like you said, tier 1 support will continue down the line of becoming the "mail room" job of years past. Just a foot in the door with crappy wages.

dcolbert
dcolbert

If you're with a large company or a bellweather, do not expect them to generally embrace anything approaching wide deployment of open source solutions. Business continuity is more important than embracing bleeding edge technologies of any sort. Conservative adoption of emerging technologies is just how stable, established business works. Trust me, your IT department makes fun of the *nix Evangelist trying to spread the Open Source gospel behind your (er, his) back. If you want a dynamic, non risk-adverse, rapidly evolving organization, find yourself a Startup founded by like-minded propeller heads and knock yourself out with Ubuntu desktops and MySQL back-end databases.

TexasJetter
TexasJetter

I read an article recently about the term Web 2.0 being thrown around everywhere, but nobody knew exactly what it is or exactly how to use it (the term). I think that is what is happing here. It's a bit like say something is "the next new thing". In the context of this article I believe the reference to Web 2.0 replacing HTML means that using current mash up abilities you don't have to know HTML to build web pages anymore. Users can easily go to Google and other places and add widgets to create their own personal portal without knowing any HTML . . . . but you know the person who created that widget knows a great deal about HTML. I think the brunt of the statement is that HTML is considered a base skill and you will not see your pay increased just because you know code tags. FYI - there is a good article about the creation of the term Web 2.0 here http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/news/2005/09/30/what-is-web-20.html

wb4alm
wb4alm

By whatever application generator the department manger was convinced to buy (by a commissioned salesman for that particular generator...) Bandwidth? It's free. Memory requirements? It's free. Training? We'll use "that" package - they have free training. Oh well.

reo
reo

I'm suddenly reminded of the movie Space Cowboys

thejendra
thejendra

PRACTICAL IT SERVICE MANAGEMENT.. Some self promotion by a techie author:-) Visit my web cave http://www.thejendra.com to buy this popular book used by several organizations worldwide to understand how to successfully implement ITIL.

amin_adatia
amin_adatia

IT is not HTML,COBOL, etc. that is important but rather "programming skills". It is such narrow minded pursuit of skills that is leading the rush towards poor to bad solutions.

theonlyrealpersonhere
theonlyrealpersonhere

Hi Tony I'd be pleased to know what part of my reasoning you disagree with. As for the dumbing down, I now have 34 years experience of the-better-you-are-the-more-they-hate-you. It's only got worse as the brains of the newbies have been steadily rotting under the influence of aspartame, fluoride, 'ecstasy' and MTV. You are right about the over-weaning influence of the profit motive. We live in a world that is now 99.9% run by gangsters (they call them 'bankers').

mikemc3
mikemc3

I kinda figured I was getting a bit off topic when I was writing it :). But what I said kinda fit at least in part to counter this ... "If pay rate for a skill is any indication of its value, there are some IT skills that look to be well on their way to extinction." I do agree pay-rates suck for PC-Support (it took me a while to learn my own worth in this industry and started actively negotiating my salery and not just taking what was offered). But I don't think PC-Support as a job is on the way out (there will always be a need). Like you said .. "Yes there will always be tier 1 support jobs ..." As for item #1, I think at a basic level, knowing HTML is valuable (teaching a friend of mine HTML currently), trying for a job solely on HTML will get you nowhere fast. I hold to the argument that knowing HTML is important for troubleshooting a clients web-site (web2.0 or not) and building the initial site (adding DHTML, JAVA, JSCRIPT and rest later). I have never been a big WYSIWYG person. I still code via Notepad (I am a twisted SOB, LOL).

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

you are moving to. It's not new as in current, it's new as not what's there now. In IT we do hve a responsibility to the business and hopefully the knowledge to point out that it ain't that simple. Even if it complete proven, stable. You still have to engineer and manage the switch. That's where the real risks are. Just something as superficially simple as rolling out a service pack across abusiness can be a nightmare. If you are laughing at an evangelist because he's the high priest of 'nix, you have missed the point entirely, and you are what the poster accused 'you' of.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

HTML is not a skill it's a tool. Page design is the skill. Go up to a carpenter and ask him if he feels out of date because he still uses a hammer instead of a nail gun.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

I've done a smidgeon of C myself mate, on and off from quite some time ago. So while being able to pass a pointer to an I4 and then read it as char(*) at the other end may occasionally have some utility, trying to write decent code without any support from the compiler is as I said for the birds.

kehill50
kehill50

Uh.... Contrary to popular belief, C is a high-level language and while it may look like assembly, the beauty of C is that you do much, much more than basic assembly. You can opt to write to stdout without formatting. You can create elegant user interfaces using a WYSIWYG GUI and a C API. And a whole lot more...!!! :-) Okay, well enough of that. Oh yeah, in case you're wondering, been programming in C since, er well..... Lets just say, I STILL have my original Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie book - which was handed to me on day one at ATT-BL. Bus Error. Core Dumped...

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

For instance , you cannot have a c h i n k in your armour. And there's no way licking gravy off a f a g g o t is ever going to be acceptable.... ROFL

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

being ignorant( or dismissive) of the detail leaves you high and dry when you abstraction moves too far away from the real world. When you see someone fresh out of a CS degree use an invisible list box component to maintain a sorted list of strings, you know something has gone seriously wrong.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Always have been, always will be (probably). Assembly well, ok you could do the best application short of getting out a soldering iron, but it's way too much work. Languages designed by academic wankers, I more than agree, they always tend to be impractical from one point of view or another. OO, I must confess I like C#, it came as a surprise, but it was a pleasant one. C, I've never really got on with, for general business applications, it has all the weaknesses of assembly and none of the benefits of a high level language. I like strict typing (dynamic or static) or none at all, this cross your fingers stuff is for the birds.

theonlyrealpersonhere
theonlyrealpersonhere

I just noticed that the Tec Rep robot is offended by the word b u l l s h i t . Bet it can't catch that one!

theonlyrealpersonhere
theonlyrealpersonhere

I see you've done your time, Tony. I don't envy those who take on a career in computing nowadays. When I started I got lots of practice with read-a-card-print-a-line long before the crudest interactive systems were created. So for me it has been a slow, incremental process that gives me a perspective that the modern hopefuls will never achieve. Especially not given the barrels of bullshit force-fed to them by the armies of "political correctness" freaks and "all's fair in love, war and banking fraud" sell-outs (traitors to mankind all of them).

theonlyrealpersonhere
theonlyrealpersonhere

I had a very difficult choice to make; either to follow everyone else down the road to Dumboville or admit to myself that for most of my life I was brainwashed and totally taken in by the massive media manipulation to which we are all subjected. Hope you find work soon.

theonlyrealpersonhere
theonlyrealpersonhere

Nothing beats Assembly Language. Those who disagree merely reveal their low IQs by doing so. C is the preferred straitjacket of academic pseudo-intellectuals. The IBM BASIC Compiler 1.00 is actually bug-free. That's because Bill Gates had nothing to do with it, despite the FALSIFICATIONS of history that surround the world's greatest money-grubber. It's also because it wasn't written by academic wankers but by engineers. US Navy engineers as it happens, then packaged by Peter Norton, still the world's greatest programmer.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

of being hoist by our own petard there. After all many of the services we provide in IT are to help/force people do their job right. Ever since hardware / comnputer time costs dropped through the floor, it's been IT professionals who've been the major cost in doing something in IT. Or at least it's the most 'easy' to attack cost. Dumbing down was invetible at that point. Unfortunately for the industry, the big boys forgot not to dumb down the people who produce the tools, so in many cases the results have been less than spectacular. The goal of replacing an expensive IT professional with a glorified clerk can only be gained at the cost of drastically reduced quality. Business 20/20 hindsight says what they should have done was produce more intelligent IT pros and reduced costs simply through straight supply and demand. That however would have meant a large an ongoing long term investment, with no pay back before financial year end. Career suicide for a bean counter. Another way to look at 'dumber' After twenty + years in IT, percentage wise I know less about it now than I did when I started, I don't feel dumber though. I'm aware of my ignorance, and that's the real difference between a professional and someone who's merely qualified. How many times have you seen some over educated moron impose the solution they know is right, mainly because it's the only one they were taught?

torovictim
torovictim

As for the dumbing down, that's not just limited to programmers, but all Americans, I'm afraid. I feel dumber myself.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Whatever language MS had chosen way back when to hit the tools market, they would have buggered up in order to make it more approachable. Nor do I agree that's it's a particularly good language. My language of choice is pascal, necessity C#. I definitely do not agree about Fortran, though I've been fortunate enough not to have to clear up engineer / scientist code with that. VB6, I've had to clear up a bit of that, a truly awful coding environment. I've worked on crap code written way back when (I probably wrote some of it myself :p ) recent and just yesterday. What MS did was lower the entry level bar, sound business thinking, but as usual from them an unmitigated f***up from a technical point of view. The scariest thing I find about it, is when you talk to it's fans they don't know why it's bad. They either don't have the knowledge or they just work around garbage like deferred instantiation, variants et al. Thirty four years .... Only 21 in the job, wrote my first bug in 1977 though.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Or windows fanboy in a nix house... Dogma, is not passion, it's an excuse not to think. If you pick out one sort of evangelist over another, 'you' are being dogmatic. They are all as f'ing dumb as each other.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Took me a second to figure out your point, Tony, and I'm still not certain I've got it... But yeah, the transition from one established environment to a different environment, even if that environment is proven stable, still comes with significant risk and effort. I'd agree with you completely on this point. You're probably right, this is likely the most significant reason why companies stay with what they know rather than transition to something new. But, this isn't the sole reason. There are also the risks with introducing non-standardized platforms into an environment and ending up with all the head-aches associated with heterogeneous environments. You can splinter and faction your IT staff (moreso than it probably already is). You can end up with such highly specialized IT staff they can only support the one platform, or the other. If you standardize and stick with the standardization, it makes all levels of the IT life cycle easier to manage. I laugh at the evangelist because he doesn't get it, because his passion for his product is so overwhelming to him it blinds him to the larger reality of the corporate workspace. And, I think the focus of this thread was on the Open Source Evangelist, not the *nix Evangelist, although I'll admit here, you might as well be talking about Protestants and Lutherans, as far as religious denominations go.

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