While no IT skill ever really dies, a number of specialties are earning less than they did five years ago. For instance, voice communications workers, including telephony specialists, earn less today because of the integration of voice and data. Another area is Web infrastructure, where website administrators and Web content specialists might not command the same pay premiums they once did.
"That's a case of supply rising to meet demand," Van De Voort says. "There has been almost an insatiable demand for people to Web-enable businesses. Now we've backfilled those. But the demand for Web application developers continues to be very strong." Pay has also gone down for user, client and desk-side support professionals, because many companies have outsourced their first-level support.
The hot IT skills that will increase in value over the next six months and beyond are in the areas of analytics, virtualization, security, ERP, mobile technology, application development and HTML5, according to Foote Partners, an IT workforce research firm.
"There are lots of opportunities in the service industry as a hybrid subject matter expert in lines of business or corporate departments, like IT HR, IT marketing or IT finance," says David Foote, president of Foote Partners. "Get a broader tool belt -- that will give you possibilities."
What You Can Do Right Now
If you feel like you're in a rut but you're reluctant to leave your current employer, there are other ways to reboot your career. "Look for assignments that stretch the boundaries of your current job," says Van De Voort. For instance, the CIO gets requests all the time from department leaders to help with the IT functions on outside projects ranging from United Way campaigns to marketing initiatives. HR staff may come to IT asking for help with new policy development, or the finance department may need IT assistance with procedure and strategy development. "Make clear to your boss that you are interested in those cross-functional assignments," Van De Voort adds.
Regardless of your circumstances, the decision to stay put or move on is under your control. Foote offers some tough love.
"If you see yourself as a victim -- of a boss, a company, a slow industry or the economic times -- then you don't stand a chance. Others with your same skills are going to blow right by you," Foote says. Being in a rut, he says, "is a state of mind that you can choose to have or not." People who see the glass as half full "will rent their house and put themselves in an international job search; some have even moved overseas. You've got to get up every morning, go to work and be happy with what you're doing. You have to take control of your career," says Foote.