At a glance: The big data job market

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ve likely encountered big data and the accompanying analytics platforms that vary in complexity and ability. This tech trend has completely exploded, with experts placing the technology on enterprise IT top 10 lists for 2014, 2015 and beyond. The reasoning behind big data’s explosion is sound.

As a concept, being able to access and analyze numerous streams of information at once, compare and contrast metrics and industry trends with global news and social media, and generate insights into client and customer behaviors and interactions could profoundly impact all industries. Furthermore, with technologies such as mobile devices and the Internet of Things poised to take over enterprise IT in the coming years, big data isn’t going anywhere – and, in fact, it will become increasingly important as more organizations put information to work.

The current climate
A report from TEKsystems identified that 90 percent of IT leaders and 84 percent of IT professionals believe investing time, resource and budgets into big data projects and strategies are worthwhile. This has led 77 percent of the former group and 63 percent of the latter to tell senior executives about the benefits of big data analytics.

Currently, more than half of businesses are using big data concepts and deploying initiatives right now, while 74 percent of IT leaders reported that their organizations will effectively address big data challenges within the next two years. What barriers? It turns out that not only do businesses lack the IT infrastructure to leverage data and analytics platforms, but all industries are experiencing a dearth of skilled IT employees familiar with big data, TEKsystems concluded.

“80% of IT leaders reported a ‘significant shortage’ of workers with the skills required for big data.”

The report stated that over 80 percent of IT leaders and 77 percent of IT professionals believe there is a “significant shortage of workers with the skills required to plan, execute and take advantage of big data projects,” causing many of these initiatives to fall short of their potential. It seems that the average business will have trouble finding a big data-trained IT professional, and 56 percent of IT leaders reported that their organizations cannot retain those individuals.

Hiring the right people
The solution to the big data skills gap, according to the IT professionals that took part in TEKsystems’ survey, is to hire temporary workers with the talents required to make big data projects valuable.

It seems there are two ways to accomplish that goal. On one hand, Forbes reported that the demand for big data expertise grew across a range of occupations. This means that organizations are hiring IT professionals proficient in a certain skill, but those individuals also possess some familiarity with big data platforms. For example, the source noted that the demand for application software developers with talents related to big data jumped 25 percent between Sept. 1, 2014, and Dec. 29, 2014.

The alternative would be to seek out IT professionals who specialize in big data. According to Forbes, businesses are looking for individuals who can fill roles such as big data solution architect, big data engineer, big data platform engineer and many other positions associated with Java, Hadoop and SQL. Datanami indicated a few of the skills in which big data professionals should be fluent. Apache Hadoop and Apache Spark topped the list, but of course NoSQL is close behind, and hiring managers shouldn’t forget that these individuals must also be creative and possess problem-solving abilities.

No one is denying the importance of big data, but businesses need employees to run these initiatives.
Big data

No one is denying the importance of big data, but businesses need employees to run these initiatives.

Get what you pay for
While many organizations are eager to find dedicated big data professionals, they must be cognizant of the costs associated with big data skills. For example, Forbes reported that the median salary for someone with big data expertise is approximately $103,000 a year. As the required skills get more specific, the average annual pay rate increases. According to Dice, an IT professional proficient in Cassandra is worth around $129,000 per year, while MapReduce-familiar tech pros can make about $127,000 on an annual basis.

However, salaries have a lot to do with the industry in which a company operates as well as its geographical location. In Seattle, 24 percent of survey respondents stated that they have big data skills, a statistic that has doubled since 2013, Dice asserted. The annual salary for a big data-proficient employee in Washington is likely to be less than the pay rate in Atlanta, for example, where 17 percent of local residents are fluent in big data technologies. The source recommended that hiring managers keep this in mind, but it’s also important for IT professionals to remember that location means everything, and remotely working could mean more money in their pockets.

Regardless of the industry, big data is going to make a huge impact in the coming years. Without employees proficient in big data skills, however, an organization will struggle to keep up with the competition. When hiring in this sector, remember that these IT professionals are in high demand, which could give them the upper hand.

At a glance: The big data job market
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