SOUTHFIELD — Salaries in the technology and creative fields are expected to continue their upward trend in 2015, according to the 2015 Salary Guides from staffing specialists Robert Half Technology and The Creative Group.
The study finds companies are making larger investments in digital initiatives, turning to big data for decision making, and using innovative interactive advertising campaigns to attract new customers. The result: high-paying career opportunities for professionals with expertise in these hot areas.
John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology and The Creative Group, said recruiting for digital skills “continues to be a challenge as demand exceeds supply. When firms identify promising candidates, they need to hire quickly and be prepared to extend compensation and benefits packages that beat what competing firms are willing to offer.”
The following six potentially high-paying jobs are expected to see the most substantial increases in average starting salary in 2015, according to the Robert Half Salary Guides*:
* Mobile applications developer: The need for skilled professionals who can develop applications for tablets and smartphones will only intensify as companies keep pace with the growing mobile market. Similar to 2014, experienced mobile applications developers can expect to see the largest increase (10.2 percent) in starting compensation of any tech position listed in the Salary Guide, earning between $107,500 and $161,500, on average.
Jeremy Brodsky, branch manager of Robert Half Technology’s Southfield office, said digital agencies are snapping up people with mobile app development skills — in the Objective C language for Apple devices and Java for Android. He added that this is a field where people with a knack for programming languages can pick up skills on their own. “Having a 4-year degree in computer science is a huge leg up in mobile programming,” Brodsky said, but added: “Traditional web-based and software development work experience typically prepares a development professional well for mobile development. There are also several free resources online that can provide talented programmers with a good introduction to mobile.”
* Big data engineer: As organizations of all types launch or advance big data initiatives, many will look to hire experienced engineers who can communicate with business users and data scientists, and translate business objectives into data processing workflows. Big data engineers can anticipate a 9.3 percent boost in starting pay in 2015, with average salaries ranging from $119,250 to $168,250.
Here, Brodsky said, organizations of all sizes are launching big data projects to analyze and use the reams of data they’re collecting through interacting with customers and prospects online. Information systems degrees are the usual path to this career, but Brodsky said there are other disciplines that can be turned into a big data job as well.
* Wireless network engineer: Professionals who can effectively research, design, implement and optimize wireless networks will be in high demand as more internal infrastructure projects are launched to support the rising use of mobile devices and wireless technologies. Wireless network engineers can expect a 9.1 percent bump in base compensation this year, with average starting salaries between $99,000 and $137,500.
For these jobs, Brodsky said, skills ranging from the help desk to setting up servers to installing cable can be transformed into a wireless network engineering and administration jobs — a pathway to management for hands-on workers.
* User experience (UX) director: A compelling and satisfying user experience is vital to the success of any web or mobile initiative. Organizations need creative leadership to ensure the user experience across web and mobile properties is consistent and aligns with business strategy and brand identity. Experienced UX directors can anticipate average starting salaries between $110,500 and $178,000, up 6.8 percent from 2014.
“This is a pretty cool gig,” Brodsky observed — being the person who looks at the “big data” of user history, and decides where the video, the words and the buttons need to be on an app or a website. “It’s kind of a blend of strategy and design,” Brodsky said. “You see people with computer science and developer background, but in this role more frequently you see people with a background in design — but who are also analytical thinkers, not standard ‘make something pretty’ designer.”
* Interactive creative director: To execute successful interactive marketing and advertising campaigns, companies need creative leaders who are adept at coordinating the efforts of designers, writers and art directors into one cohesive vision. Skilled interactive creative directors can expect average starting salaries to increase 5.7 percent in 2015, to the range of $100,500 to $180,250.
Said Brodsky: “Locally, the industry is picking up in all areas, so in all knids of corporations, there is often an internal creative team that will lead efforts brandwise, copywise, design wise, for all things digital … And at agencies, as companies are spending more and more dollars on interactive marekting, so more and more of these positions are being created at agencies.”
* Web designer (5+ years of experience): Organizations need experienced web designers to ensure their Internet and intranet sites, and digital communications — such as emails, online ads and social media sites — accurately reflect the goals, objectives and identity of the business. Web designers with five or more years of experience can expect to earn between $80,000 and $112,500, on average, a gain of 4.8 percent over last year.
More information about these and other potentially high-paying career opportunities can be found in the Robert Half Technology 2015 Salary Guide, http://www.roberthalf.com/technology/it-salary-center, which includes a wide range of information technology job descriptions, and The Creative Group 2015 Salary Guide, http://www.roberthalf.com/creativegroup/marketing-salaries, which focuses on interactive, design and marketing jobs.
Both Robert Half Technology (rht.com) and The Creative Group (creativegroup.com) are divisions of the staffing firm Robert Half.