Demand in Southern California for Developers, Analysts, Software Engineers

By Chandler Harris

While Southern California isn’t typically known for its IT jobs, the region has a large and distributed tech sector that’s currently hiring. The good news: Demand for IT professionals in the area outweighs supply.

The March 2010 employment numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed Southern California’s IT sector grew 6.5 percent – one of only two sectors in the area that increased employment that month. (The other sector was education, which increased employment by 1.6 percent.)

The sudden growth has created a “tremendous demand” for tech professionals, says Craig Kapper, senior regional vice president for Robert Half Technology’s Southern California office. In particular, San Diego, which has a sizeable number of technology companies, is struggling to find people, especially program analysts.

No More Delayed Upgrades

“(Southern California) companies are now doing many IT upgrades and enhancements because of delayed enhancements and projects over the last few years,” says Kapper. “Companies are now saying they can’t put it off any longer and are performing hardware and software upgrades and other needed upgrades.”
Professionals experienced with user interface and user exchanges are particularly needed, as well as program analysts. Also, IT professionals skilled in Web development, Java, .NET, and C#.  Oracle program analysts and people who can implement Microsoft Sharepoint are also in demand, Kapper observes.

The driving force behind all this is the belief by many technology executives that the worst of the recession is over, according to a survey by socalTECH.com. The survey found 82 percent of the region’s IT leaders expect some level of growth in 2010, while 75 percent are planning to hire employees this year. At the moment, SocalTECH sees a strong demand for software engineers, Web developers and database administrators.

Opportunities in Mid-Tier

“It’s a big change from last year,” says Ben Kuo, founder of SocalTECH.com. “I think companies were really shy on hiring last year. They may have wanted to hire, but they were worried about the economy.”
The biggest demand for IT professionals is coming from numerous mid-tier companies – those with $5 million to $50 million in revenue – who are scrambling to find software engineers and other tech professionals, according to TechAmerica.

At Technical Connections, an IT recruitment firm in Los Angeles, the most in-demand IT jobs are in software engineering. They include ERP/CRM, quality assurance, DBA, administrators and network engineers.

“Almost every technology company I visit (in Southern California) has open job positions,” says Kevin Carroll, regional director of the Southern California chapter of TechAmerica. “Many people are making the assumption there is a big pool of tech workers waiting for jobs, but the good folks are always working.”

Salaries Look Good, Too

The good news for the state’s IT workforce is the average wage high-tech workers received there in 2008 was $105,500, says TechAmerica. With demand so strong, tech salaries are only expected to increase.
At Novastor, a data storage and protection company in Los Angeles, the employee count has gone from 16 last year to 35 today. The company employs software engineers, Web developers and tech support personnel with experience in C++, C# and .NET.

Mike Andrews, managing director at Novastor and vice president of the Technology Council of Southern California, sees many of the region’s IT professionals willing to sacrifice short-term revenues in order to share in the long-term gains of companies. Through creative employment packages with strong benefits and performance incentives, IT workers can find lucrative positions at tech companies.
For Tony Karrer, CEO/CTO of TechEmpower, a Web development company, finding software developers has been difficult. He hears other CTOs complain about the frustration of trying to find talented IT professionals.

“12 months ago even the CTOs were looking for work and not many were hiring,” Karrer says. “Now most of them are back in positions and are trying to find talented developers.”

Chandler Harris is a business and technology writer in California.

Comments

  1. BY Cal Jindo says:

    One thing I’ve noticed is that one of the drivers for hiring is that those hiring now believe that a “cheap kid who knows Java” can do everything.

    For example, in healthcare, those with deep domain knowledge and domain experience tend not to be seen as valuable because the effective use of Work Breakdown Structures has defined the job into very narrow work categories. What was a healthcare IT job that required a broad expertise is now something that either a nurse can do, or a Java kid can do, but the need for someone with deep domain knowledge has been eliminated.

    I think that this is similar to what’s happened in car mechanics. Just hire someone who can follow the flow diagram in the Chilton’s. Systems thinkers are not valued!

    So things are getting better of those just leaving school. If you’re experienced, things are looking pretty bad, from what I’ve seen.

    The news for the future is that it may be difficult to keep good people in IT as the jobs become increasingly narrow and consequently increasingly of low pay. This is why many students that would have pursued IT/engineering 10 years ago are now pursuing business degrees – “We’ll just hire someone offshore to do that IT stuff, just like we’ll hire someone offshore to make my high-quality interview suit, Lexus, or iPad – Foxconn can have those problems”.

    CJ

  2. BY Cal Jindo says:

    One thing I’ve noticed is that one of the drivers for hiring is that those hiring now believe that a “cheap kid who knows Java” can do everything.

    For example, in healthcare, those with deep domain knowledge and domain experience tend not to be seen as valuable because the effective use of Work Breakdown Structures has defined the job into very narrow work categories. What was a healthcare IT job that required a broad expertise is now something that either a nurse can do, or a Java kid can do, but the need for someone with deep domain knowledge has been eliminated.

    I think that this is similar to what’s happened in car mechanics. Just hire someone who can follow the flow diagram in the Chilton’s. Systems thinkers are not valued!

    So things are getting better of those just leaving school. If you’re experienced, things are looking pretty bad, from what I’ve seen.

    The news for the future is that it may be difficult to keep good people in IT as the jobs become increasingly narrow and consequently increasingly of low pay. This is why many students that would have pursued IT/engineering 10 years ago are now pursuing business degrees – “We’ll just hire someone offshore to do that IT stuff, just like we’ll hire someone offshore to make my high-quality interview suit, Lexus, or iPad – Foxconn can have those problems”.

    CJ

  3. BY Robert Cross says:

    So, does Dice have all of these great new IT jobs in Southern California posted on it’s website?

    My question is this, are there jobs in this report where an IT person does not have to be a programmer, but can be a problem solver, IT analyst that interfaces between management/departments and programmers?

    Do those jobs still exist and are they hiring for them?

    R.Cross

  4. BY Robert Cross says:

    So, does Dice have all of these great new IT jobs in Southern California posted on it’s website?

    My question is this, are there jobs in this report where an IT person does not have to be a programmer, but can be a problem solver, IT analyst that interfaces between management/departments and programmers?

    Do those jobs still exist and are they hiring for them?

    R.Cross

  5. BY J Fred Muggs says:

    Several red flags were immediately raised after reading this article. Here’s three:

    First, it’s written by and posted by a lackey and web site desperately trying to compete in the hotbed of obsolete-job-board-to-potential-employee-job-seeker market;

    Second, its call-to-arms is hosted in a CA city with one of the highest U/E rates in the USA [besides CA];

    Third, its false and rather stale emperor-has-new-clothes approach to rallying the huge overflowing IT workers into believing this crap is just as b–ls-it as the oil spew in the gulf!

    Now, what am I really thinking, ‘eh? (rhetorical)

    PS: I’m still upside-down in some property in Barstow — wanna help out a fellow IT guy? (also rhetorical)

  6. BY J Fred Muggs says:

    Several red flags were immediately raised after reading this article. Here’s three:

    First, it’s written by and posted by a lackey and web site desperately trying to compete in the hotbed of obsolete-job-board-to-potential-employee-job-seeker market;

    Second, its call-to-arms is hosted in a CA city with one of the highest U/E rates in the USA [besides CA];

    Third, its false and rather stale emperor-has-new-clothes approach to rallying the huge overflowing IT workers into believing this crap is just as b–ls-it as the oil spew in the gulf!

    Now, what am I really thinking, ‘eh? (rhetorical)

    PS: I’m still upside-down in some property in Barstow — wanna help out a fellow IT guy? (also rhetorical)

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