Top 5 Cities That Are Hotbeds For IT Job Growth

Solution Providers As Job Creators: Hiring In The Channel

With the election over, it's time to put aside the campaigning and hullabaloo and get back to it. Priority No. 1: getting America back to work. With news of layoffs dominating headlines and fear of more job cuts to come, it's easy to feel like there's no end in sight. However, as many in the channel know, VARs and solution providers are some of the largest job creators in the country. And, job growth in the IT channel is on the rise. "There's just a run on talent -- cloud communications, data centers, I've never seen anything like it," said Mark Bier, founding principal of VAR Staffing, a Richardson, Texas-based VAR consultant agency that has been specializing in IT channel recruitment and staffing for over a decade.

As part of a new ongoing series, CRN has set out to examine the different hiring trends and areas of job growth in the channel. This week, CRN takes a look at the top five cities that are hotbeds for IT job growth.

No. 5: Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas

The Telecom Corridor, just north of Dallas/Ft. Worth, is home to over 600 tech companies such as AT&T, Sprint, Samsung and Texas Instruments, not to mention a number of companies have been expanding their footprint and setting up shop next door. "HP, Microsoft, they have a presence. Cisco put one of its major redundant data bases here." Why? "Money, population, and a pro-business environment," according to Bier. From 1999-2010, Texas experienced an upswing in population. And, the one thing Texas does well is "create one of the most pro-Business environments," Bier said. Add to that "there's a lot of venture capital and private equity firms, second only to New York and San Francisco," Bier said, and you've got a recipe job job-creation success. According VAR Staffing data, in 2008 there were 23,196 IT jobs listed in the Dallas region. By 2012, it posted 28,489, for a 22.82 percent increase. And, according to a CareerBuilder Supply & Demand report, from 2010-2012 there were 3,473 jobs posted with only 2,544 active job candidates, meaning there were 1.37 jobs per active candidate -- hats off to Dallas VARs!

No. 4: Houston, Texas

With a number of Fortune 500 companies hanging their hats in the Lone Star State, it's no wonder Houston has seen a steady increase in job growth, too. According to CNN's Fortune 500 2011 ranking of cities with five or more F500 headquarters, Houston came in No. 2 with 22 companies, behind New York's 45 and ahead of Dallas' 10. And, according to VAR Staffing's Todd Billiar, director of channel development, "The energy sector is on fire." That's not surprising, what with F500's such as ConocoPhillips, Spectra Energy and Enterprise Products Partners being headquartered in Houston. And where there's energy, there are energy technology solutions providers, like Centre Technologies and FMC Technologies. Add to that Houston's booming healthcare technology industry, and you've got a city that's in need of top-notch IT talent. According to VAR Staffing, in 2008 Houston posted 12,148 IT jobs, a number that grew to 14,192 by 2012, making for a 22.89 percent increase and placing it slightly ahead of Dallas. Between the two tech-hub cities, if you've got the IT swagger, it might be worth moseying over to check out Texas' help wanted ads.

No. 3: Boston, New England Area

The Boston/New England Area, aka "the silicon valley of the East Coast," has shown incredible job growth in the IT sector. "There seem to be more opportunities than qualified people," Bier said. In 2008, according to VAR Staffing data, the Boston area posted 26,254 IT jobs, which grew to 33,058 by 2012, a 26 percent increase. And, according to CareerBuilder, from 2010-2012, there 3,872 job postings for 612 active job candidates -- that's six plus jobs for every active candidate! So why isn't every IT job hunter flocking to Boston? The types of jobs being posted require a more sophisticated tech skill set. "It's a very tight market on the skill sets that we recruit," Billiar said, adding that there are a number of F500 companies in the Boston area, and "a lot of startups demanding great talent and looking to partner with these companies." Unlike, say, Dallas, Boston's got a different industry layout. "It's more the data center, virtualization, security, mobile device management, wireless technology, unified communications," Billiar said. "There's also a run on the type of VC backed firms and incubated firms that are looking for talent," Bier added.

No. 2: Silicon Valley, San Francisco Bay Area

It's no secret that the San Francisco Bay Area's Silicon Valley is a hotbed for tech innovation. Texas Instruments may have had the groundbreaking spark for semiconductor technology, but it was the San Francisco Bay Area's Silicon Valley that spread the innovative fire. Bier attributes the fanning of that fire to the area's "brain concentration." "California has more Tier-1 universities than any other state in the country," he said, and "Stanford, Cal. Berkeley, U.C. Davis, really help feed [tech innovation]."

According to VAR Staffing, there were 29,470 IT jobs posted in 2008, and that number spiked to 40,872 by 2012, for nearly a 39 percent increase. The main growth sectors have been in backup, storage and database solutions, in addition to venture capital firms. "A lot of the VC money is there; that's their base," Bier said. "The manufacturers themselves are there -- a lot of the backup and storage solutions." And, there's been "big investments in data centers."

No. 1: Chicago, Illinois

In 2008, VAR Staffing's data showed that Chicago posted 25,294 IT jobs and increased it to 38,261 by 2012 for a whopping 51 percent increase, making the Windy City the top city for IT job growth. What's more, according to CareerBuilder, from 2010-2012, there were 5,028 IT job postings and 3,045 active candidates, meaning there were about 1.65 jobs for every active IT candidate. What accounts for this job growth? According to VAR Staffing, it's the increased need for IT security. "Security is a huge solution delivery [in Chicago]," Bier said. Between the surge in cloud adoption, increasing the need for storage, security and data center, and the rise of BYOD, you've got a perfect security storm. "The average person is going to access 3-4 devices," he said, which means "the more mobile the environment, the greater the need for security. If networks are compromised, they can be firm ending." And, at the heart of Chi-Town's financial district sits the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. "There's a strong support around [CME] in that community; all of the security and the venture capitals, they want to rely on VAR partners to do some of that [security] for them."