The high-tech labor market, once a beacon for job candidates, dimmed along with the rest of the economy last year.
Just about every sector felt the pain, from firms that rely on advertising money to power their Web sites to companies that sell parts of the Internet backbone.
So where are the bright spots for 2002?
@Work sampled recruiters and employment experts for their predictions about job growth this year. Here are the results, with one important caveat: Unlike during the boom of the last few years, the techies likely to be in demand in 2002 and beyond will need more training and experience.
One area where the words "labor shortage" are still being used in earnest is information security. The market keeps widening for security professionals, either people with a credential known as CISSP or those with more than three years of experience. Most schools have stepped up their security programs only recently, which has kept the pool of available employees relatively shallow.
Rob Clyde, chief technology officer at Symantec Corp. in Cupertino, Calif., said bidding wars are a thing of the past but that people with security skills still can choose from among multiple offers.
"You can probably decide where you want to live and who you want to work for, which is what my definition of an employee's market is," Clyde said.
Systems administrators or even programmers who worked on secure financial transactions have made the transition into a full-fledged security career, said George Kurtz, chief executive of Foundstone Inc. of Irvine, Calif., an information security start-up that intends to hire 20 people this year.
"It's a fantastic career path," said Kurtz, who co-wrote a book on data security. "You need to have some technical experience and then you need to layer the security on top of that."
Clyde pegs the average security salary at $80,000 to $100,000 a year, with beginners earning $50,000 to $70,000. Clyde said the security trend is no "passing fad."