If you’re willing to live in the Washington DC area and if you have security clearance to work on defence projects, then the government needs you.
Dice.com, the New York City-based IT job board, reports that the number of postings for jobs in the DC area and with government defence contractors has risen 27 per cent since this time last year. This data reflects other research that shows an increase in IT security spending in the government sector. According to Input, a US-based firm that provides market data and advisory services to government vendors, government IT security spending will increase 7 per cent annually from $US4.2 billion in fiscal year 2003 to nearly $US6 billion in fiscal year 2008.
Scot Melland, president and CEO of Dice.com, says that since 9/11, the US government has been playing catch-up to the private sector as far as security. “I know that data networking, specifically government data networking were found to be lacking in basic security because of the age of the infrastructure and the networks in place.
According to Dice.com data, the average government salaries for IT jobs increased 7 per cent from 2001 to 2002, rising from $US57,900 to $US62,000 – putting the government more in line with the private sector pay scales. Melland expects this bump to help the government attract people who may have never considered government work before. He says those with basic programming skills (C++, Java, NT networking) are in high demand. “It should be an area that people should consider for growth,” Melland says. “The good news is the skills are basic skills that are out there in the private sector today.”
Dice.com data also shows that more people are getting security clearance to take advantage of the job surge in defence. Over the summer months, the number of candidates on Dice.com with security clearances jumped from 10,000 to 15,000 (the site has 1900 listings for jobs that require security clearance).
Melland predicts that the government’s appetite for IT workers will continue to grow as investments aimed at the creating secure data networks and infrastructure continue and as the government looks to retire legacy applications in favour of automated applications. “The federal government in particular is planning to invest in technology to make up for what they expect in the next five years to be a huge drop in the labour pool,” Melland says.
For the IT job market at large, Melland says there’s no boom coming, but there is reason for a little optimism. “The news is pretty good,” Melland says. “We’ve seen a slow, steady increase in the number of postings on our site.”