tough climb

For the most part, whether hiring companies want to admit it or not, IT workers are well positioned to command top salaries

Then there are a handful of skill sets that can essentially write their own ticket — the "exalted" roles in IT as one recruiter calls them.

These employees' skills are in such high demand that they can even snub the likes of Apple if they want to, and apparently some do. This October Bloomberg reported that Apple was having trouble attracting top data scientist talent — because its policies kept them from publishing their work.

"The really strong people don't want to go into a closed environment where it's all secret," Yoshua Bengio, an artificial intelligence expert and professor of computer science at the University of Montreal told Bloomberg.

Do You Really Need These Skills?

For would-be employers, such tales no doubt are causing much angst. However, many of these "would be employers" don’t really need data scientist expertise, at least not at this point in our tech and economic cycle.

"What often happens is that a CEO or upper level manager at a company will read about how Google is experimenting with, say, neural networks, and can do all these amazing things and they think they need that expertise in house," Jason Hayman, market research manager at TEKsystems, told CMSWire. "But in reality they don't."

But let's say that they did, or a similar job skill from the small group of titles that Hayman dubs "exalted".

They should be prepared to do just about anything.

Following is the list of these titles that Hayman developed for CMSWire, per his  assessment of the labor market’s supply and demand fundamentals in IT right now.

All of them call for experience and years of study. Some of the roles are so niche that it can be difficult to find a person at the top of the field who is willing to make a change to another employer or work environment.

6 Hard to Spot Job Titles

Anything Artificial Intelligence: The job focus in this niche area can run the gamut, from computational linguistics (using speech pattern recognition to develop algorithms) to bioinformatics (using biological data to develop algorithms). As uber-niche skill sets in an emerging field, these professionals are very hard to come by unless they are trained up from within the company. For example, a college graduate with a linguistics degree and several programming certifications could be hired at an entry-level and work his or her way up.

Machine Learning Architect: Experience in a field like machine learning is still fairly uncommon, making this another "exalted" IT role. Data mining experience is a key aspect. Historically jobs in both AI and machine learning have resided in the IT and healthcare industries or government intelligence. But increasingly, profit-seeking companies are looking to get ahead through both predictive analytics behind the scenes, and on the customer-facing side, a more intuitive user experience with products and services.

Data Scientist: Back in 2012 the Harvard Business Review called data scientists "the sexiest job of the 21st century." Three years later, that moniker is still spot on. As a new role, there is a relatively small pool of candidates. Most have either a Master's degree or Ph.D. in math, statistics, computer science or engineering. Some companies don't even use the title "data scientist" in the job description, because the very term means they'll have to pay a higher salary. Instead they'll hire for an analyst and train them up as a data scientist.

Information Security Engineer: Given the importance of security related jobs, it's not surprising that to a certain extent, great information security analysts are an "exalted" breed of IT professional. Two-thirds of IT leaders expect to increase spending on security next year. It’s not unlikely that some of that will go into attracting, hiring and retaining a top-tier security team.

Software Architect: Responsible for designing software applications, a software architect must also have extremely strong business and soft skills. They must translate a strategic vision into a highly technical plan and vice versa. Because it requires a great deal of experience in addition to technical and soft skills, it's one of the higher-tier IT jobs.

Cloud Architect: Primarily responsible for the design and implementation of an organizations cloud based computing solutions, this role also requires a clear understanding of the business’s goals and objectives. The cloud architect must analyze and plan cloud-based solutions that meet the requirements of the business.

Title image by Caleb Ekeroth