February 2016

Monthly Archives

  • What’s the Best City for Women in Tech?


    Washington, DC tops the list of best U.S. cities for women in tech, according to a new analysis by personal-finance site SmartAsset, followed by Kansas City, Detroit, and Baltimore, with Indianapolis rounding out the top five.

    SmartAsset bases its rankings on U.S. Census Bureau statistics, filtered for 58 of the largest U.S. cities. Using that government dataset as a foundation, the firm calculates the percentage of men and women in computer and mathematical occupations; the gender pay gap; income after housing costs; and three-year growth (or decline) in tech employment.

    SmartAsset then averages the rankings, according to a note on its website, “giving half weight to tech employment growth and full weight to the other three metrics.” It also computes an index score based on those averages: “Cities ranked first in each category would score a perfect 100, while a city ranked last in each category would score a zero.”

    This is the second year in a row that Washington, DC took the top spot on SmartAsset’s list; women in that city hold over 40 percent of all tech jobs, and earn around the same income as men. On a countrywide basis, however, things aren’t quite so rosy, with the ratio of women in computer and mathematical occupations at 26.5 percent. On average, women also earn roughly 85 percent of what their male counterparts take home.

    “There is a significant positive correlation (49 percent) between tech industry representation for women and pay equity in the 58 cities SmartAsset analyzed,” the firm noted. “While it is impossible to say what exactly causes this relationship, it is clear that some cities have a better overall culture for women in technology.”

    Here’s SmartAsset’s complete list:

    SmartAsset Women in Tech List

    The post What’s the Best City for Women in Tech? appeared first on Dice Insights.

  • Key Challenges of Working Remotely

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    For those tech pros open to conducting their company’s business from home (or a coffee shop), remote work offers many benefits, including a more flexible schedule. But working beyond the walls of a brick-and-mortar office is not without its challenges.

    Take the example of Carlos Moreno, a front-end web developer for Oracle Commerce who started out in Oracle’s Cambridge, Massachusetts office before deciding to return to his hometown of Seattle. The company valued his contributions and wanted to keep him.

    After the move, Moreno commuted nearly an hour into Oracle’s Bellevue office. Because he worked with East Coast colleagues, he often had early-morning meetings, and it was easier to take those calls from home. Eventually, his schedule led to working remotely full-time.

    “My commute is 12 feet to my desk,” Moreno laughed, “and I’m not distracted by people walking by. I don’t have to deal with the noise and other conversations in the office and I can keep my environment quiet.”

    Moreno’s biggest challenge is what he refers to as “the cost of a stamp.” Although he takes pride in his communications skills, and works on a highly interactive team, he needs to take a lot of steps in order to establish face-to-face interactions.

    “I have to go through this process of [figuring out] what is the fastest or most appropriate avenue to communicate,” he said. While he finds Instant Messenger the most effective way to reach out, and can remotely access his team’s Thunderbird calendar, he must still consider the nature of each communication. Would an email be too formal at the moment? Should he call and, if so, should he use the cell or office number? Does he just need to talk, or should he show a colleague something on his screen, too?

    “We have the tools,” Moreno continued, “but it’s always sort of an obstacle to get it to happen. That’s always the most important ‘con’ in terms of collaborating. The thing I’m trying to simulate the most often is, ‘Hey, come over here and look at my screen.’”

    Remote workers who interact across an enterprise may encounter similar hurdles when communicating.

    Renee Stetson, a data analyst for the Nashville-based Change Healthcare, has a home office in New Jersey. She started working remotely on a part-time basis for health reasons. Although that was supposed to be temporary, she ended up a full-time telecommuter when the company closed its local office.

    She’s found working from home to be very beneficial for everyone involved. “They get 150 percent more out of me than they would if I were in the office,” she said. “I have complete focus here.”

    Stetson has to gather information over long distances from several different departments throughout the organization. While her home group in sales is responsive, she’s found it tricky to get other colleagues, who may not know who she is, to answer phone calls and messages. She has to be persistent to get the information she needs. “It’s about the button you put in the subject line or first few lines of the email to get their attention,” she advised. “The goal is to not have them filter me out.”

    Infrastructure can become another woe of remote employees. For example, as companies gain new subsidiaries, it takes time for legacy software and datasets to integrate into the overall stack. That creates issues for remote workers who need to access that software and data from many miles away. “A lot of the details that I need are dropped on the floor when they upload their data,” she said. “It makes it very difficult for me. I always have to go back to the people who handle those legacy systems and coordinate retrieval of the information.”

    Not everyone is cut out for remote work. Both Stetson and Moreno see themselves as effective communicators who are also highly motivated and have a strong work ethic. They don’t allow themselves to get distracted; their constant engagement, despite not being physically present, gives them a stake in the workflow of their respective offices.

    “My house is an amazing place,” said Moreno, “and there are all kinds of fun and exciting projects just sitting there waiting for me. If I get up to get coffee, I can see four things that could use attention. I have to have discipline to say, ‘No, I’m at work.’ So I get my coffee and return to my desk and don’t play my guitar.”

    The post Key Challenges of Working Remotely appeared first on Dice Insights.

  • Is the Tech Bubble Bursting?


    In the first two months of the year, a number of tech firms laid off staff. Yahoo let 15 percent of its employees go, for example, while BlackBerry slashed a reported 35 percent of its headquarters staff.

    Nor were the layoffs restricted to massive, struggling tech companies. According to a handy chart compiled by TechCrunch, smaller firms such as NewsCred also culled staff.

    “I think companies that had planned to grow through acquisitions don’t have the war chest they thought they would,” Teri McFadden, a vice president of recruiting at Northwest Venture Partners, told the Website. Venture funding, she added, has slowed in recent months.

    Recent data from the National Venture Capital Association (as reported by Bloomberg) backs that assertion, showing that venture capital decreased from $31.1 billion in 2014 to $28.2 billion last year, even as 235 venture-capital funds closed.

    When the stock market plunged earlier this year, taking the valuations of many tech companies with it, a number of pundits openly questioned whether the tech industry was in yet another bubble—one in the process of bursting. But as the Los Angeles Times recently pointed out, stock prices for many bellwether tech firms subsequently stabilized. Meanwhile, tech unemployment remains low, having hit 2.4 percent in January (down from 3.6 percent in December 2015, and far below the national unemployment rate of 4.9 percent).

    And despite some market turbulence, the tech industry looks nothing like it did in 2001 or 2008, when popping financial bubbles outright doomed dozens of tech companies, some of them very high-profile (hi, Pets.com!). Thousands of tech professionals aren’t losing their jobs; if anything, companies are fighting vigorously to secure top talent.

    The post Is the Tech Bubble Bursting? appeared first on Dice Insights.

  • 10 Most Lucrative Industries in Tech


    Which industries are the most lucrative for tech pros? According to the latest Dice Salary Survey, banking and finance is in first place—perhaps no surprise, given the segment’s reputation as a high-salary, big-perks environment.

    Here are some of the others:

    1. Banks/Financial/Insurance

    2015 salary: $106,913
    Year-over-year change: 7.9 percent

    Banks and financial-services firms have an intense need for tech professionals who specialize in data analytics, database management, and software development. Security-related skills are also in high demand.

    2. Aerospace & Defense

    2015 salary: $106,050
    Year-over-year change: 6.6 percent

    In states such as Colorado and Virginia, the defense industry has a robust presence—and it’s hungry for tech talent. Cyber-security experts are particularly valued in this arena.

    3. Entertainment/Media

    2015 salary: $105,418
    Year-over-year change: 15.9 percent

    With the advent of streaming and other cloud-based services for movies, music, and books, it’s no wonder that the entertainment industry needs (and is willing to pay for) tech pros.

    4. Utilities/Energy

    2015 salary: $103,736
    Year-over-year change: 6.8 percent

    Cyber-security and Big Data pros will play a big role in coming years as utility companies move to update (and harden) their respective grids.

    5. Professional Services

    2015 salary: $103,685
    Year-over-year change: 5.3 percent

    Consultants and others who fall in the ‘professional services’ category help companies with a variety of tasks, including the upgrading of IT infrastructure. Thanks to companies’ continual need for outside help, salaries in this category have risen over the past few years.

    6. Computer Software

    2015 salary: $101,097
    Year-over-year change: 5.6 percent

    Software is eating the world, as investor Marc Andreessen once said. With the Internet of Things and other burgeoning segments expanding software platforms to everything from fridges to cars, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which apps and cloud-based services don’t become even more ubiquitous in coming years.

    7. Medical/Pharmaceutical/Biotech

    2015 salary: $103,736
    Year-over-year change: 9.8 percent

    Evolutions in biotech are based on the ability to store and analyze massive amounts of information, making Big Data experts progressively more important to the field.

    8. Telecommunications

    2015 salary: $99,420
    Year-over-year change: 11.2 percent

    Just wait until 5G becomes the mobile telecommunications standard: it’ll kick off a paradigm shift in how people not only build apps and services, but also consume data.

    9. Computer Hardware

    2015 salary: $99,346
    Year-over-year change: 7.6 percent

    Software needs hardware on which to run; the tech industry needs hardware experts who can build lighter, faster, cheaper systems. Although the U.S. manufacturing industry has seen a steady corrosion in the number of jobs over the past few years, the need for hardware experts remains strong.

    10. Consumer Products

    2015 salary: $98,920
    Year-over-year change: 14.2 percent

    As consumer products become increasingly connected to the Web (thanks to the still-nascent Internet of Things movement), there’ll be a rising need for cloud and connectivity experts who can make those goods “smart.”

    The post 10 Most Lucrative Industries in Tech appeared first on Dice Insights.

  • Tech Employment Snapshot: Q4 2015

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    The technology industry’s unemployment rate edged downward in the fourth quarter of 2015, hitting 2.9 percent—a tenth of a percentage point down from the third quarter of the year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Although that’s higher than earlier in 2015, when the unemployment rate in tech dipped as low as 2.0 percent, it’s still better than the overall U.S. labor market, where the unemployment rate hit 5.0 percent in the fourth quarter. Check out Dice’s latest Tech Employment Snapshot for Q4 2015 (PDF) in order to see the full range of jobs created/lost (with some nifty visualizations).

    In the fourth quarter, a number of technology segments monitored by the BLS saw a notable decrease in unemployment. For example, the unemployment rate for Web developers fell from 5.10 percent in the third quarter to 
4.40 percent in the fourth; for computer systems analysts, the dive was even steeper, from 3.80 percent to 1.80 percent during the same timeframe. Network systems administrators, software developers, and computer & information systems managers likewise saw decreases.

    For a few other professions, unemployment rose. Computer support specialists saw their joblessness rate rise from 4.20 percent in the third quarter to 5.30 percent in the fourth; programmers’ rate bumped from 2.60 percent to 3.20 percent.

    In sum, the technology segment closed out the year with low unemployment for many segments, and signs that technology professionals remain upbeat about their prospects. From an employer perspective, that means continuing pressure to offer competitive salaries and perks to attract the necessary talent. The Tech Employment Snapshot offers some additional data about voluntary quits, another important hiring measure, as well as layoffs and discharges.

    The post Tech Employment Snapshot: Q4 2015 appeared first on Dice Insights.

  • Tech Job Titles With the Highest Salaries


    The average annual technology salary in the U.S. hit $96,370 in 2015, according to the annual salary survey from Dice. Depending on experience, skill-set, and geographical location, some tech pros are pulling down far more—for example, those skilled in “hot” technologies related to cloud and data analytics can expect to make six figures, especially if they live in a tech hub such as San Francisco or New York City.

    There’s also a wide salary range between full-time tech workers, who earned an average of $93,902 last year, and consultants, who made roughly $120,822. The average rate per hour for a consultant/contractor hit $70.26 in 2015, up 5.3 percent.

    Another huge factor in tech-pro payouts is job title, which often reflects the holder’s experience and skills. According to Dice’s data, the following titles earned the most last year. While many are management-related (yes, CEOs and project managers tend to make a lot of money—shocking, right?), others represent in-demand technology segments, such as security. Check them out:

    Up first: Executive Tech Management (click below)

    The post Tech Job Titles With the Highest Salaries appeared first on Dice Insights.

  • Rising Salaries Equal Room for Negotiation


    Given the low unemployment rates over the past twelve months, it’s perhaps no surprise that salaries for technology professionals rose 7.7 percent between 2014 and 2015, the biggest increase in the history of Dice’s Salary Survey.

    That’s obviously good news for tech pros searching for a new position, or seeking a raise from their current employer. Based on salaries, the most popular tech skills on the current market include enterprise applications, programming, databases, operating systems, and cloud/virtualization. More and more companies want to crunch enormous amounts of data and build out substantial presences in the cloud—and they need the tech pros to accomplish those goals.

    Specialized Skills

    Taking things to a more granular level, highly specialized skills with generous payouts included:


    Despite rising pay, a full third of tech professionals (32 percent) told Dice they weren’t happy with their current salaries. Nor do many employers seem willing to propose other perks to keep their respective workforces engaged. Although 17 percent of employers offered increased compensation as a
way of keeping their employees happy, far fewer resorted to flexible work hours (9 percent), the option to telecommute or head to a flexible work location (13 percent), interesting or challenging assignments (12 percent) or training and certification courses
(3 percent).

    All of those percentages paled in comparison with the 33 percent of respondents who said their workplace had given them no “primary motivator” in 2015.

    In another Dice survey in late 2015, some 45 percent of tech professionals said they wanted more of 
a work-life balance, even if their current position made that difficult. In light of that data, it’s easy to surmise that employees at jobs offering no perks or “primary motivators” may soon look elsewhere for opportunities, especially given the high salaries being offered at the moment.


    Whether you’re already working for a tech company, or looking to break into the industry, you can 
take advantage of the industry’s rising salaries by negotiating for higher pay. Given the rising salaries in many sub-industries and regions across the country, employers are acutely aware that good talent is valuable, and many are willing to pay accordingly.

    Before you enter into any sort of negotiation, however, make sure you do your research. What has your company paid in the past for tech professionals with similar skill-sets and experience? What does your field tend to pay? What did the person who previously held your job earn?

    While you may not learn the answers to all those questions, any salary-related data can give you
a better idea of what to expect as “fair” from an employer. As a tech professional, you should also engage in a periodic (and rigorous) self-assessment in which you list your professional assets (i.e., your achievements, skills, and experience) along with any liabilities (i.e., failed projects, gaps in experience and performance). When discussing salaries with employers and potential employers, your assets give you leverage in asking for higher pay or better perks; but you should also figure out how to best explain anything in your liability column.

    Despite the rising need for tech pros, especially ones with highly specialized skills, some employers may balk at offering higher pay. Fortunately, compensation is often about more than just money in the bank; your negotiations can extend to benefits such as flexible working hours or the option to telecommute. Although Dice’s salary survey suggests many employers aren’t offering those sort of motivators, that doesn’t mean perks aren’t off the table in a discussion.

    Whatever your salary goals, make sure that your requests are justified by your skills and experience. It might be great times for tech professionals, but you still need to demonstrate that you have what
it takes to succeed in a highly competitive and evolving environment.

    The post Rising Salaries Equal Room for Negotiation appeared first on Dice Insights.

  • Landing a Successful Tech-Firm Internship


    When it comes to filling tech internships, companies typically seek college juniors and seniors majoring in computer science or a related field. Although colleges and universities actively work to place high-performing students in internships, a lot of potential interns have little idea of how to lock down such a position for themselves, especially if they’re not in college or have a less-than-stellar GPA.

    If you’re a self-taught programmer without a degree, securing a career-building internship can likewise prove elusive.

    Whatever the challenges, though, snagging an internship isn’t impossible.

    Do Your Homework

    Tech companies (as well as companies in other industries) often recruit on campus; if you’re enrolled at a school, swing by your next career fair to see who’s offering internships. You’ll have the opportunity to meet company representatives face-to-face, and potentially submit an application.

    Many companies also advertise internships online, often beside their full-time job postings; if you want to work for a particular firm, make sure to check out their Hiring or Jobs Webpage.

    Career Websites such as Dice are also a good place to find internships; be aware, though, that many of the openings on these sites are targeted toward undergraduate and graduate students majoring in CS or a similar topic.

    Benn Konsynski, professor of information systems & operations management at Goizueta Business School at Emory University, admits that internships are usually first made available to colleges and universities for their students and alumni. “It’s a rather fragmented and ephemeral market for internships,” he said. “Windows open and close quickly.”

    However, he added, an earnest pitch can still persuade a company to take a chance on you, even if you’re not enrolled at a particular institution.

    Where (and How) to Look

    If you’re competing for an internship against stronger students, or approaching a company on your own, you can often stand out with a little entrepreneurial verve. If you’ve built your own app, game, or program, make sure to highlight that fact in your initial pitch; it will show you have the drive to succeed.

    Rather than aim for the likes of Google and Facebook—where tens of thousands of students fight every year for just a few slots—make a point of targeting smaller companies that aren’t necessarily household names, but which will nonetheless offer a chance at valuable experience.

    State, regional, or city economic development offices will sometimes list internships, as will tech-trade groups. Many of those programs (but not all) give priority to veterans, women, minorities, or displaced, unemployed and underemployed people looking to jump into the tech world for the first time.

    The Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA), for example, is sponsoring a new paid apprenticeship and training program that will place about 600 people in tech roles across the state during the next five years. Those roles include, but aren’t limited to, database administrator, project manager, data analyst, fraud analyst, and software application developer.

    According to Jennifer Carlson, executive director of the WTIA, the trade group has 150 committed seats at companies such as Microsoft and its International Association of Microsoft Certified Partners, Accenture, Internet Identity, Impinj, F5, and Silicon Mechanics.

    As Carlson noted: “Once the testing portal is online, sometime in mid-Q2 ‘16, it will be open on a rolling basis and we’ll publish the positions we’re seeking to fill along with timeframes. We expect the first cohort to be identified in Q3 and placed in Q4 of this year, and we will ramp up from there.” Applicants go through a screening process and take a placement test that measures logic, math and critical thinking skills.

    Look Before You Leap

    Konsynski suggests that you spend as much time interviewing companies as they spend interviewing you. When applying for an internship, ask: Will you get paid or not? Get the specifics on the type of training and who will be mentoring you.

    “Internships are good, but they have to be focused on achievement, not just administrative support,” he said. “There’s no intrinsic value in an internship.” It’s all about what you did in the role to make the effort a success.

    Find out if the internship is focused on “knowledge of a domain, market or process of interest” before you waste your time applying, Konsynski added. In other words, don’t settle for just anything to get experience on your resume.

    If you’re looking at a state- or trade-group sponsored program, check out the track record of the organization or the program, and find out how long it took for the previous interns to land a full-time tech position, if you can. And, don’t assume that if you’ve completed an internship with a company that they’ll automatically hire you after it’s over.

    The post Landing a Successful Tech-Firm Internship appeared first on Dice Insights.

  • Tech Unemployment Stays Low


    According to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), tech-industry unemployment hovered at 2.6 percent in December 2015. That’s a notable decrease from November, when the BLS plugged the rate at 3.4 percent.

    Unemployment within the tech industry fluctuates throughout the year in response to external forces, including seasonal workers. Throughout 2015, the rate of voluntary quits also remained high, as many tech pros left their jobs to pursue new opportunities.

    That being said, not all tech-industry categories are created equal. In any given quarter, the unemployment rate for programmers or computer systems analysts might rise, for example, while falling for software developers and information systems managers. Manufacturing has remained a relative bleak spot in the tech industry’s employment ledger for quite some time, as the combined forces of offshoring and automation force reductions in U.S. headcount—if not factory closings.

    The latest annual salary survey by Dice also suggests that tech professionals are enjoying a sizable increase in pay, with average salaries rising 7.7 percent last year. But again, not every pro saw the same increase; those specializing in skills related to Big Data or the cloud, most notably Cassandra, Cloudera, OpenStack, and CloudStack, saw double-digit percentage increases in their salaries, year-over-year.

    Average salaries also varied on a state-by-state basis, hitting the six-figure mark in seven markets for the first time in Dice’s annual study. We’ve built an interactive map that shows you were salaries have grown the fastest.

    The post Tech Unemployment Stays Low appeared first on Dice Insights.