If you're looking for a technology sector that offers enormous potential for growth and a wealth of job opportunities, the Internet of Things (IoT) should ably fit that profile. Forecasts that attempt to get some idea of the size of the market all conclude that it's going to take off - and its trajectory will remain upward for some time. Mckinsey estimates that the aggregate 2015 IoT market of $900 billion will be $3.7 trillion by 2020
. General Electric forecasts that investment in the industrial IoT market will be $60 trillion in the next 15 years. A report by BI Intelligence forecasts that nearly $6 billion will be spent on IoT solutions
over the next five years. The bottom line is that whatever size the IoT marketplace grows to over the next few years, it's likely to be very big.
All of this investment is going to fuel an intense demand for people who have IoT-related talent and experience. A relatively new role in the IT space, IoT architects
are quickly becoming one of the most popular hot jobs in technologies
. These professionals assist with the development and execution of applications and information across a wide variety of technical devices. Postings for this best job jumped 41 percent in just one year.
What skills and knowledge does an IoT architect have?
The requirements for an IoT architect are rigorous because in addition to strong technical skills, business acumen is also required. According to Drue Reeves
, a VP and distinguished analyst at Gartner, an IoT architect has two roles. The first role is helping the organization solve business problems through creating IoT solutions. Reeves notes that this role involves collaboration to identify business problems, designing an IoT solution that solves the problems, developing a business case to support the investment, building a prototype and deploying the solution. The second role is much more that of a visionary and director. The role is responsible for developing and communicating the IoT vision, message and architecture. Having someone in this role should help prevent too many IoT devices, platforms and architectures - which would breed inefficiency and waste. Needless to say, there aren't many people right now who have both the technical and business perspectives necessary to meet these expectations.
The required technical expertise as outlined by Reeves is demanding. An IoT architect should have expertise or insight into embedded systems, network topologies, transport protocols, cloud computing, stream processing, data management, analytics, identity management and application development. The most important skill for this position, according to Reeves is the ability to integrate all of these technologies.
A bachelor's degree is a starting point for this well-paying job
An IoT architect without at least a bachelor's degree in computer science, engineering or information technology is going to be a rarity. The requirements of the job, both technical and non-technical, are going to require a college degree. An analysis of a pool of current openings for this title compiled by CEB, a best-practice insight and technology company, found that of 663 slots, 86 percent required a bachelor's degree and another seven percent required a post-graduate degree.
As an indication of the growing importance of the field, the Waterford Institute of Technology in Waterford, Ireland offers one of the first formal IoT degrees, a Bachelor of Science in the Internet of Things. Colleges and universities in the U.S., although not yet offering degrees in the specific field, offer coursework covering various aspects of IoT. For example, MIT recently offered a course entitled, Internet of Things: Roadmap to a Connected World
- a six-week program that cost $495. A number of training and technology firms offer targeted courses and certifications, including Microsoft's courses in Cross-platform development in IOT and IOT Mobile Apps, Rockwell Automation's Industrial Ethernet and Industrial IOT, Blackhat's IOT Security, and Cisco's Industrial Networking Specialist course. Because the field is so new, job candidates who have taken coursework or earned a certification in an IoT-related discipline will be more attractive to potential employers.
Salaries are relatively high - and might go higher yet as more organizations start IoT endeavors. Because the job title is so new, the required skills and duties assigned to this role might vary from organization to organization. As one would expect, salaries rise in conjunction with the demands of the job. CEB now pegs the salary range for IoT architects as ranging between $111,200 and $178,100, with a median salary of $144,650. Other estimates of this position's average salary range from $120,000 to $160,000.
Various types of firms need IoT expertise
Many different organizations, from giant corporations to startups to non-tech firms, are aggressively attempting to fill IoT-related openings. The chart below from CEB-owned Wanted Analytics and posted by Forbes
, offers insight into the firms filling IoT positions over the past two years. It's no surprise to see such technology giants as GE, Intel, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle in that group.
Given the anticipated growth in the development and adoption of IoT technologies, it will be interesting to track the demand for IoT architects over the next few years.
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