Disaster recovery: Hot career niche for 2011

May 20, 2010

NEW YORK, May 20, 2010/Troy Media/ – Disaster recovery is a hot field in 2010, and next year the demand will catapult dramatically.

The reasons are twofold: First, cybertheft numbers jump every year; and second, the demand for disaster recovery experts far exceeds the supply of qualified candidates.

With summer approaching and fall just around the bend, companies are only steps away from laying out their hiring budgets for 2011. A sure bet is that disaster recovery specialists are likely to be on their lists.

Where will IT recruiters be spending serious bucks next year? And what problems will they be pulling their hair out trying to answer? One of the biggest is how to come up with surefire, foolproof disaster recovery strategies that cover likely scenarios.

Old problems ascend to top-of-the-chart critical issues

CIOs will be asking their developers and Project Managers (PMs) the same questions they asked last year: Do we have the right and best data-replication software? The market for tools that help companies copy vital applications and records has been consolidating (i.e., the big players are gobbling up the little guys), and the results so far have been unimpressive.

Companies are upset, for good reason. Customers are complaining about poor security support, along with glitches in product development. This further underscores the need for talented candidates who can pull it all together. A project manager with a proven background in disaster recovery from both technical and practical (implementation) vantage points is a hot commodity.

It all started with 9/11

Following major disasters such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, disaster recovery strategies have ascended to a critical priority for organizations in the private, nonprofit and government sectors.

Under the broad disaster/crisis management category, it wouldn’t be a waste of time to stay on top of the changing IT data-recovery marketplace. Salaries may rise and fall slightly, but all it takes is a disaster of dangerous proportions to catapult them skyward, pointing up the constant need for experts who can forge the strategies and design the solutions that prevent and manage them.

Among Network World’s Top 10 IT jobs in 2010, security specialist/ethical hacker led the list.  This job title didn’t exist a few years ago. Put simply, the job’s mission is to keep organizational data secure, which is no small feat these days. It’s not that the bad guys – the cyberthieves – are getting smarter, it’s that there is more off-the-shelf technology that makes cyber break-ins easier. While most companies are reluctant to report data breaches, surveys and statistics confirm that the number of data breaches increases every year.

IT certifications have always boosted IT professionals’ career standing. In the growing IT security field, today they’re more important than ever.  An increasing number of IT professionals are adding some type of security certification to their skill set.

It was just a matter of time before the entire IT security field took off.  It’s an emerging trend that’s been gaining speed for more than a decade.  A 2001 survey by Robert Half International Inc. (RHI), in Menlo Park, Calif., included two hot security positions: business continuity and disaster recovery specialists, and security professionals.  Here we are on the doorstep of 2011, and the demand for these positions is stronger than ever.

Here are the skills and salary requirements for each position.

Business continuity and disaster recovery specialists 

Skills:  Network infrastructure, storage and backup technologies, network redundancy, project management, telecommunications and vertical industry understanding of business methodologies, strategies and business impact.

Salary:   Consultants: $80,000-$125,000 (all figures in US funds) per year for five to eight years’ experience; project managers: $125,000-$175,000 per year for seasoned veterans. Since RHI numbers are more than nine years, assume salaries are increased by at least 25 per cent.

Security professionals:  

Skills: Network security, risk assessment, intrusion-detection  expertise; multiplatform and multi-tool experience with leading cryptography, firewall and intrusion-detection systems; a network architecture or engineering background; and strong communication and analytical skills.

Salary: Project managers: $120,000-$140,000; professionals with risk assessment and intrusion-detection skills: $85,000-$120,000 (again tack on at least 25 per cent to salary figures).

That’s just a brief sampling of what’s going on in the still-emerging security IT field. As the US economy further stabilizes and grows stronger, companies will be less reluctant to use contract IT security pros, and more inclined to hire full-time professionals.

If you’re an independent-consultant type, consider looking at the long-term advantages of becoming a full-time staffer with an organization offering excellent growth opportunities. In the long run, you’ll come out ahead.  The job market is fickle. When times are good, companies want organizational types – loyal, steadfast, innate team players. In weak economies, the same organizations are looking to slim down and use contract professionals because it’s a more prudent bottom-line route.

It’s your call.

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