IT job seekers, on the other hand, are sitting pretty heading into 2016, Reed says, because salaries rise when demand for talent exceeds the supply of qualified professionals. Robert Half Technology is projecting a better than 5% increase in IT salaries for the next year.

Here are the 10 skills on track to be most in demand, according to IT pros who participated Computerworld‘s Forecast 2016 survey.

 

1. Programming/application development

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* 40% of respondents with hiring plans said they will be seeking people with this skill in the next 12 months.

* Last year’s ranking: No. 1

Despite fears that programming expertise is a commodity that can be obtained cheaply offshore, programming and application development continue to be among the most sought-after skills in enterprise IT.

Demand for programmers and developers is springing up in new areas, too, thanks to the rise of mobile and the emergence of the Internet of Things.

2. Security/compliance/governance

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* 25% of respondents with hiring plans said they will be seeking people with this skill in the next 12 months.

* Last year’s ranking: No. 4

Although security expertise slipped from No. 4 on last year’s list of the 10 hottest tech skills, make no mistake about its importance: Security professionals are in demand and can command high salaries.

There will be 1 million to 2 million unfilled cyber-security jobs worldwide by 2019.

Exactly 50% of the IT professionals who participated in our Forecast 2016 survey said they plan to increase spending on security technologies in the next 12 months, and security was No. 2 among the most important IT projects that respondents have underway.

3. IT architecture

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* 42% of respondents with hiring plans said they will be seeking people with this skill in the next 12 months.

* New to the list this year.

The top 10 list starts off with a surprise. Although IT architecture is a fundamental area of expertise for techies at all levels and in various roles, it rarely makes anyone’s list of hot skills.

The term “IT architect” encompasses a wide range of specialists, from enterprise architects to cloud architects, so recruiters say it makes sense that IT architecture expertise is in demand as companies move forward with all sorts of technology-driven projects.

4. Cloud/SaaS

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* 25% of respondents with hiring plans said they will be seeking people with this skill in the next 12 months.

* Last year’s ranking: No. 12.

Andrew Ho is the new vice president of technology at Global Strategy Group (GSG). At the moment, he’s both the top and only IT staffer at the public relations and research firm, which has 90 employees in four U.S. offices. He wants to add someone with experience in cloud computing and software as a service.

Ho says GSG has made a significant investment in Salesforce tools, and he wants someone who can ensure that the firm is getting its money’s worth from that technology and any cloud offerings it uses in the future.

Research firm IDC predicts that more than half of enterprise IT infrastructure and software investments will be cloud-based by 2018. Specifically, spending on public cloud services will grow to more than $127 billion by 2018, according to an IDC forecast report.

5. Big data

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* 36% of respondents with hiring plans said they will be seeking people with this skill in the next 12 months.

* Last year’s ranking: No. 10

The surge in interest in using data to drive business has pushed demand for big data skills from No. 10 in last year’s Forecast report to No. 4 today.

Moreover, in the Forecast 2016 survey, big data/analytics was No. 1 on the list of technologies that survey respondents said they were currently beta-testing or using in pilot projects, with 23% saying they were engaged in such initiatives.

When it comes to big data initiatives, “companies are typically looking for someone who can help them manage data and package that data,” says Reed, of Robert Half Technology

6. Business intelligence/analytics
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* 34% of respondents with hiring plans said they will be seeking people with this skill in the next 12 months.

* Last year’s ranking: No. 7

Holding steady in the top 10 skills list is another data-related area of specialization: BI and analytics.

Jeff Remis, a manager at IT staffing and recruiting firm Addison Group, says demand for IT professionals with these skills is strong, particularly in healthcare, insurance, financial services and retail — industries where the use of BI and analytics is more mature than it is in other sectors.

Remis says hiring managers are looking for recruits with technical expertise, but they also want BI specialists who understand the business and the industry. Such requirements put a premium on good candidates.

7. Help desk/technical support

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* 30% of respondents with hiring plans said they will be seeking people with this skill in the next 12 months.

* Last year’s ranking: No. 3

Brosius says hiring Tier 1 and Tier 2 support people is a priority at HRHCare, where organizational growth has resulted in burgeoning technology needs.But he acknowledges that competition for talent is tough, so he says he looks for potential as much as experience when evaluating job applicants.

8. Database administration

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* 25% of respondents with hiring plans said they will be seeking people with this skill in the next 12 months.

* Last year’s ranking: No. 6

Demand for database administrators remains high thanks to the ever-increasing interest in big data, BI and analytics.

In its 2016 Salary Guide, Robert Half Technology lists database administrator as one of the most in-demand specialties, noting that “more companies are using big data analytics to help inform business decisions and are relying on specialized personnel for managing and interpreting raw data.”

The guide also states that salaries for database administration positions will rise by 4% to 9% next year, with pay ranging from about $100,000 to $200,000.

Recruiters say employers want people with extensive backgrounds in database administration and a deep understanding of data reporting tools and technologies such as Oracle, SQL, DB2 and Hadoop.

9. Project management

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* 39% of respondents with hiring plans said they will be seeking people with this skill in the next 12 months.

* Last year’s ranking: No. 2

With almost half (46%) of Forecast survey respondents expecting their technology spending to increase in 2016, it’s no surprise that project management remains a top five skill: More spending means more projects — and that means more people will be needed to manage those projects.

Ken Grady, CIO at IDEXX Laboratories, a pet healthcare diagnostics company headquartered in Westbrook, Maine, has about a dozen openings within his 250-member IT department, and he plans to add new positions in the upcoming year. His hiring plans include bringing on two or three project managers to join the roughly 15 project managers already working in his newly created project management office.

Grady says he wants people who can help his teams work within an agile and DevOps environment, as well as professionals who can manage diverse teams and negotiate priorities, scope, deliverables and expectations with various stakeholders.

Even construction industry is making use of project management technologies and hence hiring project managers with experience in construction project management software programs.

10. Web development

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* 24% of respondents with hiring plans said they will be seeking people with this skill in the next 12 months.

* Last year’s ranking: No. 5

Web development continues to crack the Computerworld Forecast list of the top 10 most in-demand IT skills because organizations have come to rely heavily on the Web as a channel for connecting with customers, clients, partners and employees since they built their first websites a decade or two ago, IT leaders say.

While they don’t need Web developers to establish a Web presence anymore, they do need people with the ability to ensure that their sites are open and ready for business.

“One of the main categories where we’re seeing double-digit growth is in Web development,” says Reed, of Robert Half Technology. “Companies want [to ensure] they have a website that’s mobile-friendly, that’s easy to navigate, and that showcases other products and services so it drives incremental sales.”