IT Security Tops List of Jobs Toughest to Fill, Survey Says

December, 2017

Information security analyst and application programmer top the list of toughest IT jobs to fill, in the Computer Economics’ IT Salary Report 2018. Following the top two are business systems analyst, database administrator, and somewhat surprisingly, help desk representative.

Figure 6 from the full report shows that 17% of survey respondents say that information security analyst jobs are the toughest to fill. Application programmer came in second, with 12% picking this as a tough position to fill, although the difficulty no doubt depends on the development technologies required. 

Salary2018 fig 6 - IT Security Tops List of Jobs Toughest to Fill, Survey Says

It is noteworthy that help desk representative is high on the list, with 7% choosing this entry-level job. Typically, entry level jobs are not perceived as difficult to fill. However, IT organizations are placing a greater emphasis on soft skills in all positions as they try to align more closely to the business, and the help desk is the internal “customer facing” part of the IT organization. An IT leader summed it up: “Help desk technicians are difficult to fill because we have a hard time finding someone that is both personable and tech savvy, dresses in business/casual attire, and has a professional appearance/attitude.”

“The jobs that are toughest to fill is also a highly regional issue,” said Tom Dunlap, director of research for Computer Economics, based in Irvine, Calif. “The companies that listed entry-level jobs such as help desk usually were in areas far away from large universities. Many new grads take their first job close to their school, and most workers are unlikely to travel great distances to take an entry-level position. Company size is also a factor in what types of jobs are difficult to fill. Security was a particularly tough position to fill for small companies.”

Overall, our IT Salary Report 2018 anticipates that IT workers at the median will receive a pay raise in the neighborhood of 3.0%. This represents a slight uptick from the 2.8% we projected in 2017. While 3.0% is modest, it does represent a growth in real wages, as inflation remains around 2.0%. Some signs indicate that the job market is quickening a bit, and wage pressures will continue to build. However, companies are choosing not to grow IT budgets as quickly as the economy might suggest they would. Uncertainty and a lack of desire to loosen the purse strings are keeping salaries from growing quickly.

The report estimates 2018 wages for 75 IT job functions for more than 400 U.S. metropolitan areas, which we publish in Excel format. The report is based on a study that draws information from our annual salary survey of more than 100 IT organizations in the U.S., our IT spending outlook survey for 2018, our annual IT Spending and Staffing Benchmarks study, and compensation data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS data, which draws upon a sample of about one million state unemployment insurance records, enables us to extrapolate from our estimated national median wages for specific job functions to compensation for those same functions in various cities, counties, and regions around the country.

This Research Byte is a brief overview of our report, IT Salary Report 2018. The full report is available at no charge for Computer Economics client or may be purchased directly from our website (click for pricing). The introduction of 33 pages is available at no charge upon request.