Artificial Intelligence – The Number One IT Career Path

There is good news for those who have decided to acquire artificial intelligence skills as part of their IT career path. IBM Watson gurus will be pleased to learn that AR and VR skills are in the top spot of in-demand skills for at least the next couple of years. According to IDC, in the near future, total spending on products and services that incorporate AR and/or VR concepts will soar from 11.4 billion recorded in 2017, to almost 215 billion by the year 2021 — a phenomenal amount of growth that is going to require a steady stream of IT professionals that can fill the need for these widely expanding fields and others. Read on to learn more about the top five IT careers that show nothing less than extreme promise for anyone willing to reach for the rising IT stars.

Computer Vision Engineer

According to the popular job search site Indeed, the top IT position most in demand for the next few years goes to computer vision engineers. These types of positions will require expertise in the creation and continued improvement in computer vision and machine learning algorithms, along with analytics designed to discover, classify, and monitor objects.

Machine Learning Engineer

If vision engineers are responsible for envisioning new ideas, then machine learning engineers are responsible for the actual creation and execution of the resulting products and services. Machine learning engineers actually develop the AI systems and machines that will understand and apply their built-in knowledge.

Network Analyst

As AI continues to grow exponentially, so does the IoT. This means an increased demand for network analysts who can apply their expertise to the expansion of networks required to support a variety of smart devices.

Security Analyst

As AR and VR configurations become more sophisticated, along with more opportunities for exploitation through more smart devices, cyber attacks will become more sophisticated as well. Security analysts will need strong skills in AR, VR and the IoT in order to protect an organization’s valuable assets.

Cloud Engineer

Behind all the scenes is the question of how these newer concepts will affect cloud services. The current expectations are that solutions will require a mixture of both in-house technology and outside sources. Cloud engineers will need to thoroughly familiarize themselves with AR and VR concepts in order to give them the necessary support.

IT Careers and the Qualities All Employees Need

Technical Skills and IT Careers

There is no doubt that employers want IT professionals who have a lot of technical expertise. In order to assess the technical skills of their job candidates, hiring managers will often specifically look at their educational qualifications.

Job candidates certainly need to have some fundamental abilities in order to succeed in any career in information technology, such troubleshooting, research and problem solving skills. However, it’s important for people in the world of information technology to remember that hiring managers will still care about their personal qualities as well.


Hiring managers across many different industries will say that they often specifically choose the job candidates who come across as reliable and truthful. They also want candidates that are energetic and eager to contribute.

Some people in the field of information technology are prone to thinking that as long as they have the right technical skills, they’ll be able to find a job easily. However, they should know that they’re competing with a very broad range of employees who might have the exact same technical qualifications. If they also have the right personal qualities, it will be that much easier for them to secure the jobs they want.

IT Industry Employment

It’s estimated that as of 2016, there were 6.7 million individuals working in the information technology industry in the United States. Some people predict that the field will expand by 22 percent through the year 2020.

Since it’s possible to search online for a wide range of job listings, people in the industry will have no problem finding a lot of potential positions. It’s possible to have an IT career from home these days, and the rise of telecommuting means that people no longer have to rely on local jobs when they’re looking for IT careers. They mainly need to focus on having the right personal and technical abilities.

College Degrees for IT Career Preparation

College-level curriculum in certain technical fields is useful preparation for an IT job. Several options exist for students, including associate and bachelor’s degrees. The major a student picks for their degree helps them either prepare for a specific IT job or get a broad background to prepare for many entry-level jobs.

Specialized IT Associate Degree (2-year)

A 2-year degree in a specific IT field, such as computer repair, system administration, web development or mobile development, is an ideal option for a student who already knows the area of IT in which they want to work. Detailed training in this field prepares them for a job soon after they graduate. 2-year degrees are less expensive than bachelor’s degrees and are typically available at a community college. While the starting pay a graduate receives at their first job is usually less than what someone with a 4-year degree would earn, the specific skills they learned about their field helps them advance fast and continue to learn.

Computer Science Associate Degree (2-year)

Many community colleges offer a general degree in computer science for students who want to prepare for a bachelor’s degree. This degree usually includes required math, introductory programming and general education requirements. After completing the degree, students can transfer many of these credits to a 4-year university program.

Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science (4-year)

A 4-year computer science degree from a reputable university can provide considerable general knowledge about math, programming, software design, algorithms and computer systems. Further specialization can tailor the degree to include areas like networking, databases, web development, artificial intelligence, mobile development and IT security.

Often, computer science students do a co-op or internship with a company to get real work experience on their resume. Many computer science programs also offer a capstone course where teams of students work together on a semester-long project for a company. All of this is useful preparation for real IT work upon graduation. With a both broad and specific knowledge of IT, in addition to practical work experience, students are well prepared for most entry-level IT jobs when they graduate.


Both associate and bachelor’s degrees in IT are great options for career preparation. Colleges offer many paths students can take at both levels. The path a student chooses can help them prepare for a specific career or give them general computing knowledge and project experience that prepares them for a variety of IT jobs.

Students – top off your educational experience by earning certification. Learn more about earning Business Computing Associate certification.

Certification in an IT Discipline Can Advance Your Career

The IT world is an ever-evolving landscape. What is hot today, is passé tomorrow. The skills required in 2017 and beyond are a world apart from what they were several years ago. A Bachelor’s degree is often an entry level requirement for a job in IT. Five years after you’ve earned it much of what you learned is no longer cutting edge. Certifications help to keep your skills fresh and documented.

Demonstrate Your Skills

Certification in a needed skill area is a great way to show current and prospective employers that you are dedicated to continuous improvement. It demonstrates that you are keeping aware of current trends and future trends. Certification indicates that you have proven yourself knowledgeable to a trade association, user group, or vendor and have the skills and techniques to approach and execute the projects and tasks that employers need.

Vendor Certificates

Most major IT vendors provide their own certification tracks. CiscoMicrosoftIBMApple and AWS all offer certification tracks around their hardware and software programs and equipment. These certifications are all valuable to the IT professional looking to make a career of their products.

Other Certificates

Non-vendor/product certificates can also be advantageous. ITILPMP and CISSP, in conjunction with the previously mentioned certifications, display a well-rounded approach to IT integration to other disciplines. The application of the knowledge gained in acquiring these certifications to the technical knowledge gained through the other certifications improves the specialized knowledge of the specific help to prepare you for management-level positions.

COMMON Certificates

If you use IBM Power Systems and IBM i, you should investigate COMMON’s certification options. There are six different options, some for new professionals, some for those more experienced. Topics range from Business Computing to RPG, IBM i and AIX. Certification exams can be taken at locations throughout the United States or at COMMON events.

Demand for Cloud Technologies

Those who have skills and experience with cloud technologies are going to be much in demand in the next few years. According to Tech.Co, the use of cloud computing technologies is expected to quadruple in the near future. Estimates are that cloud data centers will manage a whopping 92 percent of all workloads.

So who are the biggest contributors to this massive progression to the cloud? The biggest players are the IoT (internet of things) and big data centers. Most of the growth will occur in public cloud data centers, with the use of private clouds beginning to decline. Interestingly, predictions are that infrastructure as a service (IaaS) will decline somewhat, due to many organizations focusing on improving their own corporate infrastructures, including both data storage for sensitive information and acquisition of their own high-speed connections.

In addition, a recent study, “2017 Cloud Computing and Business Intelligence Market Study” conducted by Dresner Advisory Services, notes that as organizations are turning to public clouds, they are also looking for cloud-based business intelligence tools such as dashboards, advanced visualization tools, ad hoc queries, data integration and data quality, end-user self-service and reporting features. The study goes on to note the trend for increasing demand for cloud-based BI services, is largely driven by smaller organizations. However, not included in their across the board “must have” list for BI services, is social media or streaming analytics, although these are still important in certain industries.

Trust in the cloud is not just increasing for businesses. Consumers are also expected to demand more from the cloud. Estimates are that personal cloud storage will increase from 47 to 59 percent. That may not sound like a huge percentage increase, but globally the increase represents about a billion more users.

The future looks bright in the cloud, supported by both business and consumer demand. Anyone interested in applying their technology skills to this trend will most likely have a bright future as well.

IT Personnel Management Tips

IT personnel management is not easy. Even some of the most seasoned professionals in this field will struggle. However, if IT personnel managers keep a few things in mind, they can expect much better results from their team members.

Learn Flexibility

Many people are promoted into IT personnel management positions after they’ve excelled by working independently. When working with other people, it’s important to make sure that they have some control over the process. Working with subordinates means adapting to their needs, ideas, abilities, and suggestions. Managers who can be more flexible will be more successful in general.

Develop Conflict Resolution Skills

IT personnel managers will run into emotional and disordered conflicts no matter what they do, regardless of the intelligence and maturity of their subordinates. They cannot respond by avoiding the conflict or escalating the conflict by ridiculing the people involved. IT personnel managers must become experts at diffusing the conflict and trying to find a way to satisfy as many people as possible by keeping their concerns and abilities in mind.

Create Professional Relationships

Being a manager of any kind requires high-level social skills and the ability to develop solid working relationships. Managers who are able to do this will often find that everything else will fall into place as a result. Managers do have to avoid being too involved with what their subordinates are doing, of course. However, they also can’t be too distant. Striking a balance and caring about the needs of employees helps lead to good relationships between employees.

It isn’t easy to get promoted into IT personnel management. However, many people will learn the requisite skills in time.

Wanting to improve your management and people skills? Take a look at the 2017 Fall Conference & Expo Focused Education Roadmap – Developing Business Skills.

IT Education – Preparing for a Career in Data Science

Data Science

Do you love mathematics? Do phrases like “data warehousing” and “v-lookups” bring out the inner nerd in you? If any of this sounds familiar, you might want to steer your direction toward a career in Data Science.

According to Patrick Circelli, a senior recruiter for the IT recruiting firm Mondo, “Data Science is all about mathematics, so having that type of degree — mathematics, information science, computer science, etc. — is especially key for these roles. Hiring managers really love that.” Circelli goes on to describe the must-haves for anyone preparing a resume for a career as a data scientist. His list includes:

  1. A degree in Information Science, Computer Science or Mathematics
  2. Microsoft Excel, specifically the use of pivot tables and v-lookups, and knowledge of SQL queries and stored procedures
  3. Programming skills in any of the following languages: C++, Java, Python, R, or SAS
  4. Concepts such as predictive analysis, visualization and pattern recognition, i.e. understanding how data operates, and skills that could come from data visualization tools like Tableau
  5. NoSQL database environments like MongoDB, CouchDB or HBase
  6. Data warehousing

Although there are many areas in IT that require data science skills, thanks to relentless cyber attacks, the growth rate in security data science specifically, is booming at 26%, with the security analytics market set to reach $8 billion by the year 2023. Anyone who can create a resume listing Circelli’s recommendations, along with a desire to focus pointedly on data security to combat hackers and cyber attacks, can probably write their own ticket in the tech world for decades to come.

Should IT Career Professionals Worry about Generation Z?

If you have IT skills, you’re likely in a pretty cushy position right now. You can find work just about anywhere in the developed world, and you can demand a decent salary even when you’re just starting out. If you have skills in some of the top programming languages like Ruby on Rails, you might find yourself earning six figures in less than two years, (after starting out at over $70,000 per year). That’s nothing to sneeze at. The IT industry is one of the highest paid there is in the marketplace today.

However, there are some key reasons for this:

  • Almost no one understands what you do
  • Everyone needs you to keep their technology running and safe
  • Everyone needs you to explain their technology
  • Almost every business needs you to thrive and keep pace with the competition
  • People who do understand what you do are either older, seasoned technology professionals, secure in a career path headed for retirement or Millennials enjoying the gig economy and the freedom it affords them

Generation ZHowever, more research is starting to show that Generation Z members are quite different than their predecessors:

  • Unlike Millennials, they are looking for secure jobs and long-term careers
  • Like Millennials, they don’t remember life without modern technology – they understand it (this means many of them will be able to do what you do)

In addition, Generation Z expects technology to work on demand. They watch whatever TV seasons they want when they want without commercials. They download albums in just a few minutes. They want customer service and networking to primarily occur over social media. They will demand the most from technology and strive to make it happen. They are more modern, yet at the same time when it comes to money and work, they’re traditional.

If you’re sitting comfortably in the IT industry, you would do well to learn some additional programming languages and do all you can to ensure your IT career or at least your financial future is secure. It might not be a bad idea to start a second business while you have cash flow coming in. You might want to work much harder for that position on the management team. You might also want to consider entering the field of higher education at least part-time in case you have to transition later.

There are many ways to start preparing for financial security. Now might be the time for you to find the right one for you. Five or ten years from now might be too late.

How to Be a Better IT Personnel Manager


Chances are, if you are a manager in IT, you want to become better at your job. You want a team that works well together and you want to be able to inspire them to greatness. If this sounds like you, we can help. Here are some tips on IT personnel management that will help you succeed at becoming a better leader.

Lead First, Manage Second

A team needs a leader more than it needs a manager. But what is the difference between a manager and a leader? A leader isn’t just concerned with a list or an agenda, though those things are important. A leader is concerned with a direction. A leader’s job is to move his team into new territory and to inspire to greatness.


As a manager, you should seek to be an inspiration to your team. Don’t just tell your team what to do, give them the motivation to do it. Encourage open communication with your team so that you are the kind of person they want to look to for leadership and inspiration.

Be a Good Communicator

Your team deserves to know what’s going on, it’s the only way they’ll be able to perform as they need to. Being a good communicator will improve the effectiveness of your team’s performance.

Being a good manager is key to good business. If you’ve found this post helpful, be sure to share it.

Looking for more personal development opportunities. Check out the Developing Business Skills sessions at the 2017 Fall Conference & Expo.

The Benefits of Certification

There’s still a lot of competition in today’s job market. Even skilled IT professionals will tend to struggle to get jobs today. Getting specialized certifications can make all the difference for people who are looking for a job or trying to succeed in a career.

Career Advancement

Having IT certification can mean the difference between getting the job and staying in the job market for even longer. Some employers will actually narrow down the applicant pool based on who has certification and who doesn’t. Certified individuals will also find it easier to network with people who have similar certifications, which can enhance their career opportunities.

Rising in a company and getting a higher salary often requires people to familiarize themselves with new technologies and acquire new skills. People will usually need to provide some documented evidence that they have such skills and knowledge, and earning new certifications can make that happen.

Career Stability

Employers are more likely to keep certified employees on staff during difficult times. People with high-level certifications have documented skills that other employees won’t have. People who earn new certifications will make themselves more valuable employees.

New certifications allow IT professionals to stay relevant. The technological world changes very quickly. Skills can become obsolete just as rapidly. The people who are progressing further with certifications immediately send the message that they’re able to adapt to this transitory environment. These are the people who will keep their jobs or get new jobs more easily. Certified people know their field and they can network within the field more effectively.

Learn more about COMMON Certification.