Tech job outlook good, better for freelancers

Things are looking up for the tech job market, but one survey shows that life may be better flying solo.

A couple IT industry surveys indicate that the business is booming for the tech industry. Opportunities are up for both full-time tech positions and for freelance IT jobs, but some of the news may make IT workers want to abandon the "security" of a salaried position and go solo.

As the global economy has struggled to avoid complete meltdown the past few years, workers of all types have been grateful just to have a job to wake up to each day. That gratitude translates to complacency for some -- suddenly satisfied with salaries and working conditions that would have had them surfing their résumés in search of greener pastures in years past.

"Technology professionals endured a second straight year of nearly flat salaries," according to the 2011-2010 Annual Salary Survey from Dice.com. The disappointment of stagnant incomes -- an increase of less than one per cent over the previous year -- are offset by the fact that nearly half of the respondents reported having received a compensation bump -- up from only 36 per cent the year before. Of course, if you get a raise, but that raise is less than one per cent, I am not sure it really counts as a raise -- but that's just me.

Meanwhile, Elance, a platform for online freelance opportunities, released a survey of its own. The Online Employment Report indicates strong and growing demand for freelance IT professionals, with an increase in spending as well.

According to Elance, spending increased 11 per cent over the previous quarter, and almost 50 per cent over the same quarter last year. A majority of the freelance spending is going to IT positions with strong demand for mobile app developers, online marketing, and Facebook developers leading the way.

"Small businesses are embracing online employment as a high value strategy that allows them to respond quickly to market conditions," said Ellen Pack, vice president of marketing at Elance. "Now small businesses anywhere can build online teams, which include professionals in high demand like Android programmers, HTML5 programmers and Social Media marketers to fuel growth and innovation."

Obviously, having any job rather than collecting unemployment is a good thing. The crumbling economy has reset job descriptions and compensation expectations in favor of employers as workers are willing to do more for less just for the privilege of being employed.

These surveys indicate that the tech industry is rebounding nicely, and that opportunities are on the rise. But, apparently workers who want a shot at higher incomes may want to consider flying solo since the freelance market seems to have some looser purse strings.

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Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)

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