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10 Hardest IT Jobs to Fill
Cynthia Harvey, InformationWeek 4515 Times 2095 People

If you’re an IT leader or tech manager struggling to hire for one of these positions, you’re not alone. If you’re an IT professional with experience in these roles, you’re in luck.

It’s an interesting time for the IT job market.

On the one hand, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the overall unemployment rate remains low at 3.4%. And according to CompTIA, the tech unemployment rate is even lower -- just 1.8%. For the 25th straight month in a row, technology companies hired more workers than they lost. And employers in all sectors hired approximately 130,000 IT professionals in December alone.

But at the same time, workers are hearing a constant drumbeat of job losses. By some counts, technology companies have laid off more than 150,000 people in recent months.

But not all roles have been affected equally by the recent job cuts.

Some of the very same tech companies that laid off large groups of workers are still hiring -- but only for certain roles. For example, at the time of writing, Meta had more than 758 jobs posted on its website. Microsoft had 833. At Google, the count was 919.

If you have the right skills and experience, it is still a very good time to be looking for work in IT. So, what exactly are the right skills and experience?

The following slides highlight 10 roles with plenty of open positions compared to the number of applicants. They also include average salaries for each role based on data from If you’re a job seeker with skills in one of these areas, you’re in a pretty good situation. And if you’re a manager having trouble finding people to fill one of these roles, you can rest assured that IT teams across the country are having the same difficulties.

10. Full-Stack Developer

Average salary: $100,818

Within IT, a full-stack developer has long been considered something of a mythical beast, as most developers have more experience with either front-end or back-end coding. Getting the front end and back end of websites and web applications to work together properly is a perennial challenge for many organizations, hence the demand for workers who understand the “full stack.” However, these tend to be positions for more experienced workers, and in fact, there aren’t many entry-level full-stack positions at all, which makes it difficult to get the experience necessary to qualify as a full-stack developer. As a result, the job market has far more full-stack positions available than experienced candidates to fill them.

9. Software Architect

Average salary: $142,363

As the name suggests, software architects are responsible for planning and organizing organizations’ software systems. They take the lead on development projects, develop software solutions, supervise tests, fix problems, manage the release cycle, and communicate with stakeholders and upper-level employees. Software architect is a high-level position that involves a wide variety of roles and responsibilities, and as such, it requires advanced technical and leadership skills. Applicants must also have significant prior experience and training in order to be considered for the software architect position. For this reason, employers often find it difficult to find a qualified candidate to fill the role.

8. Front-End Developer

Average salary: $119,224

Front-end developers design and build the user interface portion of the website that customers use and interact with. To be competitive, organizations from almost every industry must have a website that is reliable, fast, and easy to use. As such they require great front-end developers to create the best possible user experience. Ideally, front-end developers should be competent in many different programming languages, especially JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. And while there are a lot of job applicants with front-end development experience, there are even more vacant job opportunities.

7. Cloud Architect

Average salary: $139,777

The dramatic rise in cloud computing over the last decade has skyrocketed the demand for qualified cloud professionals of all varieties. This trend looks to continue well into the future as both consumers and businesses grow more and more reliant on the cloud. Among cloud professionals, cloud architect is one of the most important positions as they are the ones responsible for designing and implementing organizations’ general cloud computing strategies. Cloud architects have similar responsibilities as software architects, but they specialize in working with cloud services. Given the security threats that cloud computing faces, it is especially important that cloud architects can successfully integrate security programs into their company’s cloud architecture.

6. Data Scientist

Average salary: $140,042

No. 6 on the list is data scientist. Data scientists are data professionals who analyze data to discover trends, create predictive algorithms to forecast outcomes, and communicate their findings to their organization to improve business decisions. Data science positions usually require applicants to have a master’s degree as well as proficiency in advanced mathematics, statistics, and computer science. Ideally, they will also be familiar with a variety of machine-learning techniques. This unique blend of skills makes people qualified to fill data science positions difficult to find and given the enormous amount of data that modern companies work with -- they are also highly sought after.

5. Software Engineer

Average salary: $123,100

Software engineers have a very similar responsibility to software architects, but they tend to focus more on the actual building of software and less on the general planning and organizing of the system. Like software architects, they often play leadership roles and work on developing, testing, and maintaining software. While software engineer positions don’t typically require as much experience as software architect positions, companies generally hire more software engineers than software architects. The high demand for the position as well as the range of skills it requires make the position difficult to fill.

4. DevOps Engineer

Average salary: $126,826

Many IT departments have adopted DevOps practices to speed up the software development process and improve the quality of their code. This often involves integrating and automating the processes between software developers and IT operations. While DevOps has been around since 2007, its rapid surge in popularity has meant that job openings have outstripped the number of candidates with DevOps training and/or experience. One of the most popular DevOps roles is DevOps engineer. DevOps engineers are responsible for working with both developers and operations staff to ensure systems are running efficiently. A DevOps engineer must be proficient in coding and scripting in addition to extensive familiarity with DevOps principles.

3. IT Project Manager

Average salary: $78,357

The third IT job on the list is the general title of project manager. IT project managers initiate, plan, and execute projects to ensure the organization meets its IT goals. With so many organizations looking to adapt and improve the way they operate, they require effective project management to bring about these changes and ensure that the transition is smooth and effective. However, many find it difficult to find candidates capable of filling this valuable role. Organizations generally require project managers to have strong leadership skills, several years of experience, and familiarity with Agile or some similar system. Additionally, many organizations also require a special certification process that often takes years to complete. Because salaries for project managers tend to be lower than most of the job titles on this list, while the job requirements are significant, the field attracts fewer outstanding job applicants, hence the high demand.

2. AI/Machine Learning Roles

Average salary: $121,605

Today, artificial intelligence and machine learning have become a required part of doing business in most industries. And while a growing number of IT professionals have taken courses in AI and ML, the demand still outpaces the supply of available candidates. In recent years, the mismatch between supply and demand has moderated a bit, but AI and ML roles remain some of the most difficult for employers to fill. Some have begun moving interested IT staff from other positions into AI and ML roles so that they can learn on the job. The roles generally require advanced mathematics and programming skills, however, so finding candidates even for entry-level positions can be challenging.

1. Cybersecurity Roles

Average salary: $146,088

No. 1 on the list of hardest IT jobs to fill is cybersecurity roles. As cloud computing and the general interconnectedness of digital technology grow more prevalent, security threats also grow more prevalent. Governments have now passed many regulations requiring companies to meet certain security standards when it comes to protecting their customers’ data. This has led to an explosion in the demand for cybersecurity professionals who can help prevent data breaches and adapt to increasingly advanced security threats. Several surveys have found that employers place cybersecurity at the top of their list when asked about the hardest roles to fill, and this trend seems likely to continue.

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