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January 7, 2013

SEO and Social Media Specialists Identified as Hot Tech Jobs for 2013

Recruitment firms Robert Half Technology and The Creative Group have released 2013 Salary Guides this month that identify SEO/SEM specialists and social media specialists as two of the hottest technology jobs for 2013.

Both positions offer strong starting salaries in both the U.S. and Canada, with income ranges that have increased in the past 12 months due to continual high demand for experienced candidates.

According to The Creative Group, the growth of online, mobile and social media content has created strong demand for professionals with a range of interactive skills, including user experience designers, mobile developers and online community managers. Marketing professionals with experience using social media measurement and client relationship management tools, for example, are highly sought after.

Consumers’ appetite for targeted, up-to-date and easy-to-digest news, information and entertainment seems to grow every day. Organizations need professionals who can create, curate, manage, distribute and optimize content using a variety of channels, including social media. Demand is particularly high for copywriters, proofreaders and content managers with Web expertise.

However, companies can’t seem to fill these new interactive positions, due to a shortage of available skilled talent.

“Companies seek individuals who can help with key growth initiatives, such as improving the firm’s Web and social media presence, gathering and analyzing business data, and optimizing a customer’s online experience,” said Lara Dodo, regional vice president of Robert Half Technology and The Creative Group.

“Many of these positions are quite challenging for employers to fill – and in some cases, the supply of qualified professionals is lower than the demand.”

Job seekers with the right combination of skills can write their own ticket, according to The Creative Group: “A growing number of individuals with in-demand skills, including those just starting their careers, are receiving multiple employment offers. In addition to offering competitive salaries and perks such as flexible hours, managers need to move the hiring process along more quickly to secure and retain these professionals. ‘Hybrid’ candidates – those with creative and technical skills – continue to be among the most desirable to employers.”

Below are descriptions for six of the hot technology and creative jobs identified for 2013, along with their anticipated average USD starting salaries:

1. SEO/SEM specialist
– These individuals are responsible for formalizing search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) strategies and tactics. Typical duties include analyzing website traffic and providing strategies for improvement; developing SEO website assessments and recommendations and translating them into technical requirements; and providing SEO guidance in technical areas such as server infrastructure, website structure and page construction. In-depth knowledge of SEO and online media advertising is generally required. SEO/SEM specialists in the U.S. with three or more years of experience can anticipate average starting salaries ranging from $67,750 to $91,000, while those with one to three years experience can expect to receive somewhere in the range of $48,250 to $64,000.

2. Social media specialist
– Responsible for defining and executing a specific social media strategy, as well as cultivating and managing branded online communities on the company’s behalf. Excellent writing and editing skills for multiple media channels are required, as is a strong customer service mindset. Social media specialists in the U.S. can expect average starting salaries ranging from $51,250 to $70,500.

3. Mobile applications developer – As companies strive to reach consumers on Smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, they need professionals who can develop for the small screen. Average starting salaries for mobile applications developers in the U.S. are expected to range from $92,750 to $133,500, representing an increase of 5.3 percent over 2012 rates.

4. Web designer – Create concepts, artwork and layouts for Internet and intranet sites and other online projects based on creative briefs and client meetings. Must be familiar with Web protocols and markup languages and have a strong understanding of Web design issues, including browser usability and cross-platform compatibility. Requires design and trouble-shooting skills, as well as an eye for detail. Those with five or more years of experience should see base compensation ranging from $75,000 to $120,000. Designers with one to five years experience should receive a base salary ranging from $52,750 to $76,500,

5. Web content writer – Writes clear and compelling online content that is optimized for the Web, including articles, product descriptions, promotional copy, e-newsletters and blogs. Edits and re-purposes existing print copy for the Web, and plans and crafts e-mail marketing campaigns. Requires strong writing and editing skills, as well as experience with markup languages and search engine optimization. Web content writers with five or more years experience can expect a salary range of between $60,500 and $90,750, while those with less than five years experience should receive something in the range of $45,250 and $66,250.

6. User experience (UX)/usability specialist – Since so much customer interaction happens online, companies are looking for workers who can create positive digital experiences for their online audience. The UX/usability specialist designs, develops and champions creative and compelling user interfaces for Web or application architecture that enhance adoption by making it simple to use. The UX/usability expert investigates requirements, analyzes and diagrams user profiles and work-flows, develops a UI paradigm, and offers highly usable interface solutions. These specialists must have a passion for user-centric design and be a strong communicator. UX/usability specialists in the U.S. can expect starting salaries between $76,000 and $110,000.

Salary ranges in California, Washington DC, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey can vary up to 33 percent higher than those quoted here.

It’s not just salary levels improving for tech staff either. Eighty-four percent of advertising professionals surveyed by The Creative Group said they expect the number of creative team members who work remotely to increase in the next few years. With interactive talent hard to find, more employers are sweetening the deal by allowing staff to telecommute, provided they can get the job done.

More and more companies are bringing in freelancers to access specialized skills and offer relief to core staff during peak work periods. They’re finding it’s also an effective way to determine whether a candidate is a good fit for a full-time role.

If you are thinking about retraining and/or applying for a job in technology in 2013, this is encouraging news. Given the diversity of roles available and the shortage of trained candidates, persons taking college courses, online training or internships to acquire these in-demand skills should be rewarded with plenty of job opportunities and good income levels for at least the next two years.

All salaries listed are U.S. national averages based on data published in the 2013 Salary Guides from Robert Half Technology and The Creative Group. Actual salary ranges may vary depending on location.

Article by Kalena Jordan, one of the first search engine optimization experts in Australia, who is well known and respected in the industry, particularly in the U.S. As well as running a daily Search Engine Advice Column, Kalena manages Search Engine College – an online training institution offering instructor-led short courses and downloadable self-study courses in Search Engine Optimization and other Search Engine Marketing subjects.