Daniel Greenspan is an enterprise training consultant and the founder of ITCareerFinder. Over fifteen years of collaboration with IT professionals, world-class trainers and technology executives has given him a unique perspective into the IT job market and the skills and credentials that technologists need to succeed.

Infographic: Big Developments in Big Data

It's hard to deny the fact that "big data" is a ubiquitous buzzword today, and every now and again someone suggests that it's just a passing fad. The fact of the matter is that, while this trend may be experiencing some hype now and will likely eventually plateau (in the distant future), it's going to be a major player from here on in no matter how you slice it. This is because the insight brought forth from analyses of vast quantities of relevant data eliminates assumption and guesswork from the business decision-making process. In large businesses especially, this directly equates to mitigated risk, colossal savings and accelerated growth.

Data from the staffing industry indicates that people aren't just talking about big data; medium and large businesses are spending a great deal on — and exhibiting a lot of interest in — the scouting and hiring of data scientists and developers in the big data space.

The demand speaks for itself: for every one developer looking for a job in big data there are 3.6 job postings available in the United States. Additionally, as of 2014, developers who work with big data languages are the highest paid in the space. R, the statistical analysis programming language tops the list with an average salary over $115,000. Other languages and frameworks designed for dealing with large data sets, such as NOSQL, Apache Hadoop and MapReduce, boast six-figure salaries as well.

Even small businesses reap benefits from big data: although they don't often have the need to substantiate hiring in-house big data developers, they gain an advantage through externally managed analytical dashboards that help them visualize data and spot trends that can influence smarter businesses decisions.

The bottom line is that big data isn't simply an over-hyped term in the tech space and business world. The infatuation with big data is supported with fiscal interest in this new field because of the marked difference it's already making for SMBs and enterprises, and the vast potential it has to impact the way do business going forward. Take a look this infographic to see some of these trends visualized:

big data development infographic

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Hot IT Skills in the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is one of the most revolutionary technology trends of our lifetime -- and it’s poised to explode. These skill sets will maximize your salary and marketability in the proliferating Internet of Things.

Hot Computer Skills IoT

Simply put, the Internet of Things (IoT) is the merger of the physical world with the digital. In the IoT, everyday objects are embedded with technology – such as Wi-Fi and sensors – to acquire a unique online identity and gain the ability to interact with their external environment. This infinite network of “smart” devices promises a range of benefits for businesses, individuals and society at large, including reduced waste, increased safety, greater convenience and improved quality of life.

The vanguard of the IoT revolution is here: Smart objects ranging from fitness wearables and home appliances to connected factories and even whole smart cities are coming online daily, but this is only the beginning. As broadband and hardware costs continue to fall, innovations in mobile and cloud abound, and society continues to embrace an increasingly connected culture, the Internet of Things will explode -- Gartner (conservatively†) predicts 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020, when by IoT product and services will be generating $300+ billion per year.

Big business is all-in: Tech-giants like Cisco, IBM and SAP are launching internal business units and spending billions to grow the infrastructure of the Internet of Things, while major consumer and industrial manufacturers like Ford, General Electric, Bosch and Philips are working overtime to develop the next generation of intelligent devices. And it's a feeding frenzy on IoT startups; myriad VC firms alongside IT trend-setters like Google and Intel are rapidly acquiring promising hardware and software suppliers in the Internet of Things ecosystem.  

As the Internet of Things continues to expand, forward-thinking IT professionals will enjoy a variety of challenging and lucrative job opportunities. These IT skill sets will be especially sought-after in the age of IoT:

  1. Business Intelligence

    With so many devices consuming and sending exabytes of raw information, the true potential of "big data” will be realized. Organizations will endeavor to collect, store, and analyze smart device data streams for actionable intelligence -- business intelligence specialists with skills in sensor data analysis, data center management, predictive analytics, PaaS (Platform as a Service), as well as programming chops in popular big data platforms like Apache Hadoop and NoSQL, will be ideally positioned to meet these needs. Strong business acumen will also be a key differentiator, particularly for BI executives tasked with divining additional opportunities in the burgeoning Internet of Things.
  2. Information Security

    Already home to one of the largest talent gaps in the IT workforce, cyber security specialists will be even more sought-after as the influx of IP-enabled devices increase the complexity – and with it the potential exploits and privacy concerns – of networked devices. Will someone be able hack into your smart-fridge and gain access to your entire network? IT security pros skilled in vulnerability assessment, PKI (public key infrastructure) security, ethical hacking, and wireless network security are already being scooped up to evaluate and mitigate risks like these. Knowledge of data ethics and privacy policy will further help you advance your information security career in the IoT.
  3. UI / UX Design

    PC, smartphone and tablet screens are rectangles. Objects in the Internet of Things will come in every shape and size; some will have very small screens, and others will have no visual display at all. Talented user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) designers will be a hot commodity as IoT providers strive to develop effective, user-friendly interfaces despite this shift in paradigm. Marketable skills for UI/UX designers in the IoT include Responsive Web Design (wherein visuals dynamically adjust to screen-size, platform and orientation) and Service Design (human-centered design approach that intuitively guides users through complex services).
  4. Mobile Development

    Many of our smart objects will be controlled with mobile devices, i.e., smartphones, tablets, and wearables, driving additional demand for the white-hot mobile application development job role. Platform-wise, Apple iOS and Android application developers will garner the most demand, as these two platforms account for over 90% of mobile devices in U.S. circulation (currently neck-and-neck at about 45% market share each). Digging a little deeper, those with experience developing mobile apps that communicate with external hardware and sensors will be especially sought-after in the proliferating Internet of Things workforce.
  5. Hardware Engineering

    Computer hardware engineers design and build the actual electronics at the heart of the Internet of Things movement. Engineers who can develop and install Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and other connectivity solutions will be in great demand. Other valuable hardware skills in the IoT include AutoCAD drafting, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) engineering, wireless sensor design, and quality assurance. Hardware technicians will also benefit from razor-sharp soft skills, such as effective verbal/written communication and conflict resolution, which they’ll need in spades to successfully collaborate with design and manufacturing teams in the IoT.
  6. Networking

    Smart devices wield a variety of sensors and applications to communicate with their environment. Getting these devices to interact effectively demands a wide array of networking tools and techniques. Network pros will need top-notch skills in designing, maintaining and optimizing large-scale traffic across secure, reliable and redundant backbones. Working knowledge of WiFi and other wireless (3G/4G/5G) connection methods will be in high demand, along with the ability to support Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Near Field Communication (NFC), and wireless protocols that don't consume a lot of battery power - such as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and ZigBee. Providing for diversity of content and understanding the underlying application flow will also be vital for IT pros supporting this critical data network.
  7. Programming & Software Development

    With the industry still in its infancy, the IoT development landscape is very diverse. There are various platforms to choose from and it'll take more time before industry standards are stabilized and set in stone. Nonetheless, some programming skills are more in demand than others. Python is a choice language. It is popular with Raspberry Pi, the single-board computer that is widely used in IoT projects of all sizes. Also crucial to IoT is Node.js, a low-resource server platform that manages connected devices. Node.js is based on the JavaScript programming language. If you want to dig deeper and get into more advanced scenarios such as programming microcontrollers and Arduino boards, knowledge of C/C++ will be a must. These platforms will give you a great jumpstart in programming the IoT.

The list of marketable skills in the Internet of Things will continue to grow as new business challenges and tech breakthroughs arise. I will continue to update this post with the latest & greatest IoT skill sets as they emerge.

Gartner predicts 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020 (excluding PCs, smartphones and tablets). International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts 30.1 billion autonomous devices on the IoT in 2020, while Cisco and Ericsson each say 50 billion (but keep in mind they have a horse in this race). Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if the scope of the Internet of Things surpasses all four predictions by decade's end.

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Top Paying IT Career Paths for 2014

In addition to education requirements and marketplace demand, salary is a key factor in choosing your ideal IT career. These tech jobs have the greatest earning potential in 2014.

Highest Paying Technology Careers 2014

Finding a job you love that also pays the bills can prove a challenge in today’s economy. Luckily, those of us in the rapidly evolving IT space have a range of challenging and lucrative career paths to choose from. Most of the top paying tech careers for 2014 require years of schooling, but the expense of education will pay dividends upon joining the workforce. Unsurprisingly, many of this year’s top paying positions are in the C-suite – in addition to training, these careers demand an experienced technologist with high business acumen and a proven record of success.

IT staffing firm, Robert Half Technology, recently published its 2014 Salary Guide, featuring salary and employment trends for this year’s hottest job roles. Here we take a deeper look at the top 10 highest paying IT careers for 2014:

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Top 10 Highest Paying IT Certifications for 2014

Alongside marketplace demand, salary is a key factor in deciding which IT certifications to pursue. These ten credentials will maximize your earning potential through 2014.

Top Paying Certifications 2014

In addition to keeping the “lights” on, organizations want an IT workforce that will help cut costs, manage risk and influence smarter business decisions. IT professionals with skills in virtualization, information security, business intelligence, software development and project management are best poised to achieve these goals, so it’s no surprise that credentials in these hot and emerging domains will dominate the top paying IT certifications in 2014.

This post will break down the tech certifications with the highest earning potential, according to the industry-respected 2013 IT Skills & Salary Report by Global Knowledge and Windows IT Pro. To eliminate statistical anomalies, this ranking only includes certificates with 100 or more responses.

Here are the top paying IT certifications for 2014:

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Certification Path for Cyber Security Professionals

Subject matter experts break down a best-in-class certification track for IT security professionals.

cyber security certification path

As cyber attacks continue to escalate in frequency and sophistication, businesses are making it a top priority to acquire talent who can help protect their digital data and infrastructure. In a high-stakes field where protocols change at the speed of attackers' imagination, only those with the latest and greatest skills will succeed. Certifications are the best way to prove the value and relevance of your cyber-security skill set to prospective employers.

With dozens of globally-recognized certifications to choose from, mapping out a cyber security learning plan can feel overwhelming. This post will break down an ideal vendor-neutral certification track for IT security professionals.

Why vendor-neutral? Vendor-neutral certifications demonstrate expertise that can be applied across multiple technologies, as opposed to vendor-specific certifications, which validate skills in a particular product line, such as Cisco network devices. Once you have the job (or have it in your sights) and you know which technologies the company uses, then it’s time to pursue vendor-specific certs.

Here is a rock-solid certification path for general cyber security professionals:

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Best Engineering Careers for the Future

From medicine and software to energy and construction, engineering represents some of this decade's most lucrative and exciting career paths.

best engineering jobs in america

Sweeping advances in science, industry and computing have sparked a revolution in engineering employment. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts rapid growth for a range of engineering occupations through the next decade and beyond, but record job creation is only part of what makes this sector so attractive; six of the top 7 highest paying [undergraduate] college majors are in engineering, according to a salary survey from the National Association of Colleges & Employers.

Taking into account growth potential, compensation, and emotional "x-factors" for each position, here are the top five engineering careers for the future:

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IT Jobs 2013: Top 10 Programming Languages In-Demand

Aggregate posts from the leading job boards indicate the best programming languages to land a job in 2013.

Programming Skills in Demand

With IT budgets at a five-year high, progressive organizations are developing new software systems and applications to boost performance, reduce costs and expand their reach across a fast-growing digital marketplace. The resulting increase in programming and development projects has placed computer programmers among this year's most sought-after professionals (IT or otherwise). 

CIO.com, a leading resource for IT executives, along with job board aggregator, Indeed.com, analyzed programming and development job offers across the top job boards to determine this year’s hottest programming languages. We built on this top-notch analysis to identify some of the key factors driving workforce demand for each language.

Here are the most marketable programming languages in 2013:

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What’s New in Cisco’s CCNA 2013 Certification Exam

Cisco has redesigned its CCNA certification to better align with next-gen IT job roles. This article looks at major updates to the new CCNA Routing & Switching credential, plus the key facts you should know to stay ahead of the curve.

Whats New CCNA Certification

The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) is Cisco’s most popular certification, and one of the IT industry’s most marketable and prolific career credentials. CCNA certification demonstrates competence as a network professional, and proves that a certified pro can install, configure, operate and troubleshoot routed & switched networks.

As technology advances and networks become increasingly sophisticated, the job roles of network professionals evolve in turn. Cisco’s revamp of its flagship credential improves CCNA training and certification curricula by incorporating the skills IT professionals need to manage the networks of today -- and tomorrow.

Important changes re new CCNA Routing & Switching

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Online Tech Schools

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SNHU provides affordable, online degree programs that are recognized by employers, certifying bodies, and higher learning institutions nationwide.

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Take your IT career to the next level with online certificates and degrees from Purdue University Global, an accredited, public, non-profit leader in higher education.

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IT Boot Camps

Gain the skills to pursue sought-after IT careers in just 24 weeks. Available boot camp topics include Coding, Cybersecurity, UI/UX Design & Data Analytics.

These technical boot camps from top universities are offered as a combination of self-paced online content and live, instructor-led virtual classes.