by Cara Hogan

In demand: Skilled WebSphere professionals

Published July 08, 2013


The increasing importance of business-critical solutions like IBM WebSphere drives up the demand for skilled and knowledgeable technology professionals. WebSphere architects, administrators, developers, and associated line-of-business decision makers can look forward to high salaries and job security, but also challenges in an aggressive IT market. How do you know if you have the skills—both personally and on your team—to compete?

Since the recession, the overall technology job market has recovered much more quickly than many other industries, according to Tom Silver, Senior Vice President at Dice, a technology career company. But workers and businesses remain cautious despite the improvements.

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“It’s a tight market,” Silver says. “The unemployment among tech professionals is running around half the national average—about three percent—which is pretty good. But turnover by historical standards among tech professionals is below average. People are not as bold as they would have been in the last tech boom in voluntarily moving and changing jobs. People are a bit more measured.”

This guarded mentality is reflected in the IBM WebSphere job market. The jobs database at Dice currently has approximately 2,800 openings for people with a WebSphere-related skillset, of about 82,000 jobs posted in 2013.  This seems a substantial, but is actually down eight percent from last year, according to Silver. However, there is a bright side: The salary is competitive.

“Although the [number of] jobs are down slightly, the people who have these jobs are getting paid pretty well,” he notes. “Interestingly enough, the average salary last year for people that had WebSphere as a skill was $99,000. That’s about 15 percent above the average salary for tech workers across the board, which is $85,000.”

"The average salary last year for people that had WebSphere as a skill was $99,000."

Tom Silver, Senior Vice President, Dice

What is in demand in 2013? The right skills for the right job
The companies seeking IBM WebSphere expertise span all types of industries and run the gamut of titles and skills. Some recent postings on Dice include companies like Costco in search of an IBM WebSphere Commerce application developer, Travelers Insurance looking for an IBM WebSphere Portal developer and Sterling Jewelers posting for a senior IBM WebSphere administrator.

In the IBM WebSphere and overall IT markets alike, job prospects are higher for those that have expertise in Java and service-oriented architecture in addition to their IBM WebSphere knowledge, according to CJ Parziale, Senior Account Representative for Eliassen Group IT Recruiters.

“The most in-demand skills are definitely Java and agile development,” he says. “The more experience you have in that type of environment, the more your rate is going to go up. If you took a percentage of the development jobs that we have—80 percent are Java.”

Silver notes that technologists should boost their skills in cloud, mobility, and big data—which is no surprise—but also advises that an emerging must-have skill is security.

“Companies want to use data more strategically and analytically to help businesses be more competitive, and do that in a secure fashion,” he says. “Companies are fearful of information being taken or abused, so data security becomes increasingly important.”

At Eliassen, demand for developers specializing in data has been very high for the past year, Parziale notes.

"Don’t get stale with the technology."

CJ Parziale, Senior Account Representative, Eliassen

“There has been a substantial run looking for Cognos developers,” he says. “A lot of companies are trying to build their data warehouses, to build the data and mine it. A lot of the larger healthcare companies have data warehouses with IBM. They want that sense of experience building cubes and dashboards.”

Top five IBM WebSphere products employees need to know>>


WebSphere Insights surveyed readers and asked them to rank the IBM WebSphere software solutions that IT professionals most need to have experience with to stay competitive in the marketplace. According to readers, the most important solutions to know are:

    1. IBM WebSphere Application Server
    2. IBM MobileFirst
    3. IBM WebSphere MQ
    4. IBM BPM and ODM solutions
    5. IBM Worklight

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Parziale explains that there’s also been a trend of employers looking for newer front-end technology like CSS3 and HTML5, as companies move their operations over to the latest versions.

“Now with the recession over, in the past 12 months [requested skills are in] more new development,” he says. “Companies are upgrading their technology stack. The companies that do have the newer type of technologies are getting the better type of talent.”

Silver agrees, “Companies are looking for professionals with IBM HTTP experience. Other IBM skills that pop up are P8 Case Manager and BPM as it relates to WebSphere positions.”

Parziale recommends that job seekers work to have as broad a skill base a possible, while still mastering each skill acquired. Experience is also a priority for hiring managers, with many companies looking for five to 10 years of experience for senior developers, he says. But the newest job requirement is not technology skill-related: intrapersonal skills.

“Companies want someone who can come in and not just be a head-down coder,” Parziale explains. “You have to run meetings and collaborate between the business and different users in the company. All the groups have to be on the same page with agile development—releases coming every two weeks, as opposed to the waterfall with 90 day releases. The communications skills in the development space are a lot greater than they’ve been in the past.”

For job seekers it’s “location, location, location”
While many people may want to work close to home, being flexible and willing to relocate could be the difference between a job offer and unemployment. Silver explains that applying to a job in a city like Detroit or Cleveland could be more successful for an applicant than trying to stand out in the highly competitive tech marketplace in Silicon Valley.

“Detroit has been one of the fastest growing tech markets we’ve seen in years,” Silver says. “Markets like Silicon Valley, New York City and D.C. are busy, but the ones that are fastest growing are the ones you don’t think of. We’re encouraging people to think of other markets outside the traditional technology centers. Consider moving where the cost of living is less and the growth opportunities are more significant.”

Radha Gunda is one of those many job seekers, looking for a new IBM WebSphere-related job. She started her career at Accenture and picked up skills working on IBM WebSphere Application Server, IBM WebSphere MQ, Enterprise Service Bus and IBM WebSphere architecture. She currently works at an insurance company in Hartford, Connecticut, but is looking to move to a new position near Boston, Massachusetts.

“I just started looking, but I’m not trying very vigorously,” she says. “I feel my skills are very marketable. I’m in development now, but I’d like to move into administration work. I’d need just a little training.”

She explains that she doesn’t feel worried about finding a job eventually, just about finding the right one for her, but IT recruiters warn applicants not to become complacent and rely on old skills. There’s always a new version of software to learn, according to Parziale.

“No matter how solid you think your skills are with WebSphere, if there is a new book or a training course, always continue to update yourself,” he says. “Don’t get stale with the technology. Sign up for a user group, keep updating yourself. Be the first one to use the new version of the new technology coming out. Don’t just use the technology nine-to-five; the technology is changing every single day.”

To learn more about the results of the WebSphere Insights Jobs and Skills reader survey, see the Infographic on IBM WebSphere jobs.



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