Five of the most promising occupations next year will be in technology, with designers of web interfaces expected to see the largest salary gains in 2011. Developers of corporate back-office applications will have the most job opportunities, according to staffing firm Robert Half International.
All of the IT occupations on Robert Half's list of "Eleven Promising Jobs for 2011" will pay more next year, on average, even as many U.S. workers are forced to take pay cuts.
"Companies are willing to invest in IT if they can see a return on investment," said John Reed, executive director of Robert Half's technology unit. "All of these jobs can be tied to ROI."
The list was based on data that the staffing firm compiled for its annual industry-specific salary surveys.
Ranking fourth overall -- and highest among tech jobs on the list – are software developers who create custom applications for the enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems that run payroll, accounting and related back-office functions.
These workers, known as ERP technical developers, can expect their average annual salaries next year to be between $79,250 and $109,500, a 5.2% jump from this year.
"ERP has heated back up," Reed said. "A lot of back-office upgrades were shelved during the downturn, but now they're taking those (software) modules down off the shelf to update them," he said.
Software developers who design the user-facing pages of websites, better known as user-interface/user experience (UI/UX) designers, can expect average annual salaries to increase 7.8% next year to a range of $67,500 to $98,000, the report said.
That dovetails with what tech hiring managers and others looking for software developers have been saying for a while – UI/UX design positions are among the hardest to fill right now.
The salary gains expected for tech workers next year show that industry pay will remain strong during the economic recovery, as it did during the U.S. recession last year.
The Robert Half forecasts echo data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which showed that tech workers in both Seattle and Silicon Valley enjoyed strong salary gains in 2009, despite a weak national employment picture.
Mobile application designers and developers, whose jobs are so new that Robert Half kept no salary data on them until this year, can expect to earn between $73,250 and $102,500 in 2011.
"Everyone wants an effective presence on the web, especially a mobile one," Reed said.
Other technology jobs on the list include data modelers and analysts of business systems and intelligence. Data modelers' salaries are expected to increase by 4.5% to a range of $80,750 to $102,500, while business intelligence analysts will see a 5% rise to between $82,500 and $116,250.
Here are the top tech jobs and their rankings:
#4. ERP technical developer – salary: $79,250 - $109,500
#5. Business intelligence analyst – salary: $82,500 - $116,250
#6. Data modeler – salary: $80,750 - $102,500
#7. Mobile application designer/developer – salary: $73,250 - $102,500
#8. User experience designer – salary: $67,500 - $98,000
Write to John Shinal