February 2015

Monthly Archives

  • Finding Your Way as an Enterprise Architect


    Aspiring enterprise architects (EAs) have to navigate a winding, unmarked career path littered with inconsistent job titles, diverse duties and a plethora of frameworks in order to stake their claim in this emerging but confusing field.

    Brian Cameron, founder of the Federation of Enterprise Architecture Professional Organizations (FEAPO) and executive director of the Center for Enterprise Architecture at Penn State University, thinks enterprise architecture is a hodgepodge of fiefdoms that desperately needs consistency: “The architectural frameworks and skill requirements vary by organization and industry.”

    For enterprise-architect jobs, click here.

    Given the lack of standardized job descriptions and training, and employers needing EAs pronto, it’s worth asking a few veteran enterprise architects how they found their current jobs, and how they deal with some of the industry’s quirks.

    Target Specific Roles and Industries

    If you want a job as an enterprise architect, start by pursuing a narrow range of positions in industries that align with your strengths, technical skills, functional knowledge and interests.

    Cameron estimates that 50 percent of practicing EAs have a technical background and 50 percent have a business or liberal arts background, which means there are plenty of opportunities for people with wide-ranging experience.

    EAs at major tech firms such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM or SAP usually need considerable software engineering or development experience and familiarity with the cloud and Big Data, explained Serge Thorn, who’s been an EA for 15 years.

    Major companies often employ large numbers of EAs, Thorn added, so not everyone’s involved with business-process modeling, portfolio management, IT governance, stakeholder communication and so forth.

    Conversely, an EA in a small- to mid-sized IT department typically focuses on enterprise-wide analysis, planning and design; as a result, he or she spends considerable time interfacing with stakeholders. Jobs in smaller companies also tend to require broader skills, business and functional acumen, and an understanding of global architecture.

    Don’t be discouraged by lengthy job descriptions for enterprise architects, advised Jason Uppal, chief architect and CEO for iCareQuality. Uppal started out as an aerospace engineer and has never worked in IT: “It’s unlikely that anyone would have all of the skills employers are currently demanding, so start with what you know and build from there.” 

    Acquire Critical Skills and Competencies

    Traditionally, enterprise architects have relied on decades of experience in order to do their jobs well. For example, Thorn honed his leadership and enterprise architecture skills over the course of 18 years while serving as an IT manager and later as the head of IT for a major global bank.

    But that paradigm is changing. In order to meet the growing need for practitioners, many universities now offer certificates for working professionals, alongside online master’s programs, that teach theoretical foundations, decision making and enterprise modeling.

    If you’ve worked in software development or engineering, systems design or administration, project management or a business-facing role on an ERP team, you may already possess many of the required skills and competencies for the EA position. After all, EAs spend most of their time selling their ideas, building trust and consensus, and communicating technical concepts to non-technical people. Sound familiar?

    You don’t need deep knowledge in any one area, Uppal said; it’s primarily a leadership role. “For instance, I’ve never coded in .NET in my life but I know how an application comes together,” he added. “Technologies come and go but the basic three-tier architecture hasn’t changed in 15 years. Most of the fundamental skills can be learned on-the-job as you go.”

    Assess your readiness by comparing your experience to the ideal competency levels outlined in this framework. Online courses, mentoring relationships, lateral moves and stretch assignments that offer enterprise or business exposure are the best ways to close major knowledge gaps.

    Another option is to use a subspecialty such as database architecture and administration, or network architecture and administration, as a stepping-stone to an enterprise-architect level.

    Learn an Architectural Framework

    Most companies use a hybrid enterprise architecture framework, according to Cameron. In fact, a recent industry study found that 66 percent of organizations had developed a customized framework. Fortunately, there’s no need to learn them all; just get familiar with a more popular framework such as TOGAF, ZachmanDoDAF or TRAK; or better still, learn the framework that is preferred by the companies in your target industry.

    And while a certification or two may increase your marketability and value, you don’t need one right away. “You could give a TOGAF manual to an industrial engineer and they’d recognize the concepts immediately,” Uppal said. “If you understand the industry, the architectural framework and have the right balance of interpersonal, strategic and technical skills, you have everything you need to make the leap into enterprise architecture.”

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  • Dice Salary Survey: Good Times for Tech Pros

    Dice Five Year Salary Trend

    Technology pay in the United States saw another year of hikes with technology professionals earning $89,450 on average annually, up 2 percent from 2013, according to Dice’s annual salary survey.  

    More than half (61 percent) of technology professionals earned higher salaries in 2014, most frequently citing a merit raise as the reason for the increase. Another 25 percent say they received higher wages due to changing employers within the year.

    Also, technical recruiters saw a significant jump (19 percent) in salaries in 2014, making $81,966 on average annually compared to $69,102 in 2013.

    In addition to salaries rising, tech bonuses were both more frequent and higher. 37 percent of tech pros cited receiving a bonus in 2014, slightly more than the 34 percent who said this last year. The average bonus in 2014 was $9,538, up 2 percent year-over-year.

    diceSalarySatisfactionWhile salaries rose slightly, satisfaction with wages declined. Half (52 percent) of technology professionals were satisfied with their compensation in 2014, down from 54 percent in 2013. In fact, satisfaction with salaries has dipped each year since 2012, when it peaked at 57 percent and salaries saw the biggest year-over-year jump to 5.3 percent.

    “As demand for technology professionals rises and highly-skilled talent is harder to find, the pressure is being reflected where it counts: paychecks,” said Shravan Goli, president of Dice.com. “Still, tech pros are less happy with their earnings, signaling to companies that in order to recruit and retain the best candidates, offering more will be necessary.”

    Tech professionals are more confident than ever (67 percent) that they could find a favorable new position in the year ahead and 37 percent anticipate changing employers for better opportunities.

    With compensation rising, tech professionals are slightly less likely to relocate for a new job this year (30 percent) as compared to last year (28 percent).

    Wages Rising Again in the West

    The Pacific region as a whole received the highest salaries and tech professionals in Silicon Valley are again the highest paid in the country, earning $112,610 on average, up 4 percent year-over-year. The second highest paid talent is in Seattle, where tech pros earned $99,423, up 5 percent, in 2014. Sacramento tech salaries rose 14 percent to $96,788, with more experienced professionals earning more from last year driving the growth. Professionals in Portland, Oregon earned $91,556 on average, up 9 percent year-over-year, and in San Diego, tech salaries rose 4 percent to $94,121.

    Money Markets

    Several key markets saw above-average pay increases including Boston and Chicago, up 3 percent year-over-year to $97,288 and $88,866, respectively. Dallas ($91,674) and New York ($95,586) professionals earned a 2 percent increase. Washington, D.C. tech salaries rose 1 percent to $98,323 on average making them the third highest paid professionals behind Silicon Valley and Seattle.

    Skills to Pay the Bills

    Big Data and cloud dominate the skills which earned the highest paychecks in 2014.


    “Cloud is not new to the tech world but as more companies—large and small—adopt the technology, tech professionals with this experience will enjoy opportunities,” said Mr. Goli. “Big Data made a big showing last year and we’re seeing it this year too. Tech professionals who analyze and mine information in a way that makes an impact on overall business goals have proven to be incredibly valuable to companies. The proof is in the pay.”

    For additional information on top paying skills in product, design, mobile, cloud and other categories, please visit www.dice.com/salary.

    Dice Salary Survey Methodology

    The 2014 Dice Salary Survey was administered online, with 23,470 employed technology professionals responding between September 29 and November 26, 2014. Respondents were invited to participate in the survey through a notification on the Dice site and registered technology professionals were sent an email invitation. A cookie methodology was used to ensure that there was no duplication of responses between or within the various sample groups and duplicate responses from a single email address were removed. The Dice Salary Survey was adjusted for inflation in 2014:  technology professionals earning salaries of $250,000 and above were not automatically eliminated from the survey if they met other criteria.

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  • Worst Entry-Level IT Jobs of 2015


    Entry-level IT jobs can either offer tons of responsibility and upside potential, or they can hammer you with low pay and endless tedium. In the latter case, you’re often left dealing with pushy developers and angry software customers, and the thankless work is never-ending. With that in mind, here’s Dice’s list of the worst entry-level IT jobs for 2015.

    Data Entry Technician: “This one is pretty boring, but it still needs to get done,” said Manoj Garg, managing partner of Virtual Information Executives, an IT advisory firm. Data entry technicians must be super detail-oriented, and the work is usually repetitive. If that wasn’t enough, the pay is notably low for IT: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports data entry technicians earned an average of $27,500 in 2012.

    Help Desk Technician: You have to start somewhere, and if you don’t have a computer science degree yet, you might enter the IT field as a help desk technician. According to the Dice Tech Salary Survey, help desk jobs paid an average of $42,512 in 2013, a drop of 3.8 percent from the prior year. “Given all of the work, the pay is low,” Garg said. “The employee has to think on their feet, all the while talking on the phone with irate IT customers, and solving their problems as quickly as possible.” It’s also a role that’s not your typical 9-to-5, so you might be working long hours and late nights.

    IT Tech Support Specialist: If you’re working in IT tech support, you need to be a jack-of-all-trades. The role involves everything from server and desktop maintenance to installing desktop computers, laptops, printers, and all software. It’s often a thankless job with relatively low pay despite the amount of work; The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average salary as $48,900 in 2012. Long and odd hours are also pretty common, said Jordan Goldmeier, CEO for Cambia Factor, a data-consulting agency. There’s also the need to deal with anxious and angry people who want their hardware and software issues resolved quickly. Yay.

    Data Migration Specialist: Data conversion from legacy systems is hard work, often fraught with cost overruns, delays, and the inevitable angry boss, Goldmeier said. About one-third of all data migration projects will go past deadline and overbudget, according to Bloor Research. The job can be quite overwhelming, so you’ll have to work hard to not get pigeonholed if you want to eventually move beyond data migration; salary can fluctuate, depending on whether or not data migration is a part of other enterprise resource planning work.

    Junior QA Tester: QA tester is a common job in software engineering departments, and a critical part of a software team. But developers tend to get the attention and respect, while entry-level QA testers work furiously in the background. Goldmeierreceived an offer for an entry-level QA tester position while still in college; the job manager told him that it was so easy that “a trained monkey could do it.” He also warned Goldmeier that, as he got better at testing the code, he would have to deal with the egos of the folks who wrote it. But at least there’s job mobility and more recognition as you move up the ranks: In the most recent Dice survey, QA testers earned an average of $75,444 in 2013.

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    The post Worst Entry-Level IT Jobs of 2015 appeared first on Dice News.