Careers: Application Development Skills Back in Demand

The enterprise application developer’s lot has long been an unenviable one—until now, that is

The enterprise application developer’s lot is an unenviable one. App dev projects are frequently outsourced, managers have become even more risk-averse over time, and—with IT budgets holding steady—there hasn’t been much wiggle-room for salary or bonus increases. Until now, that is.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel. According to management consultancy Foote Partners, average compensation for certified and un-certified programmers is on the rise—and there’s a chance that the best is still to come, as enterprise CIOs shift their focus from compliance requirements back to innovation.

According to new IT pay research from Foote, premium pay for non-certified applications development skills increased by 17.6 percent from last October to October 1 of this year. Although certified application developers haven’t fared quite so well, they’ve experienced a not-insignificant increase of their own; pay for their skills is up 13.2 percent for the same period.

Uncertified and certified application developers fared better than other IT pros. In fact, overall premium pay for 94 non-certified skills surveyed in Foote’s survey of 50,000 IT professionals in 1,820 North American companies grew by 9.9 percent in the same October-to-October period. Pay for 95 certified tech skills also rose by 7.9 percent in the last year.

Co-founder and president David Foote says this is encouraging news all around, especially for application developers. “These are monster numbers for software developers, but for those of us who closely track IT workforce developments, this doesn’t come as a surprise,“ Foote said, in a statement. “Probably the biggest change we’ve noticed from a year ago is that CIOs have turned their attention from regulatory compliance to once again focusing on innovation and creating new revenue-producing products and services. This has translated in more demand—in fact, pent up demand—for applications development skills relative to infrastructure skills, for example.”

Foote cites still another encouraging trend—that of in-sourcing, or the repatriation of applications that have previously been outsourced. In this respect, Foote says the traditional risk-aversive nature of management is starting to reassert itself as a sort of outsourcing reality check. “[Companies have] become wise to the risks of offshoring, or at least how difficult it is to do it well. Risk aversion has become a prime directive. In this business environment it may be more important to produce predictable results even if it may cost more to do so,” Foote said. “If you’re head-to-head with a competitor, or if a revenue window of opportunity with a customer is starting to close, any misstep could mean your job. In that situation most managers will go with their best in-house talent, supplemented by consultants and contractors.

So which app dev skills are most in demand? Over the next 12 months, programmers with EAI, .NET, Web application, ERP, or CRM development skills should be highly sought.

Application developers aren’t the only in-demand IT pros, of course. Data management (DM) skills are also in high demand, with data warehousing and business intelligence (BI) specialists, ERP and CRM professionals, and database administrators (DBA) and database developers among the hottest of the hot.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.