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IT salaries on the rise

It may be a particularly good time to have a technology skill set. In addition to job growth in areas such as information security, IT professionals may benefit from a widespread salary increase. According to Dice's 2012-2011 Salary Survey, technology workers received an average salary increase from $79,384 in 2010 to $81,327.

"Compensation has mustered some momentum, as more and more top tech markets are notching increases in pay," said Tom Silver, senior vice president at Dice. "Silicon Valley’s compensation moved first and wrote the playbook for highly qualified tech professionals to ask for more – whether that be in Seattle, Houston or Raleigh. The increasing popularity of bonuses shows companies are rewarding their top performers."

Dice analysts noted average salary increases in a number of geographic locations. One of the largest occurred in Austin, Texas, which saw a 13 percent bump in pay. In addition, Portland, Oregon saw a 12 percent increase. The large number of areas in which average salaries rose showcases healthy growth throughout the country.

Several skills stood out for their growing momentum and for their ability to glean a six-figure salary. For example, the average pay increase for those with service-oriented architecture skills was 6 percent. Experience with Java-based tools such as Websphere and JBoss were similarly rewarded.

Skills in high demand
Of course, going for the most lucrative option isn't always the best choice. For those who place higher value on job security, it may be worth looking into the most in-demand skills. Fortunately, there is some overlap, as ZDNet columnist Sam Shead revealed that Java skill sets will likely be in high demand in the United Kingdom.

Traditional skills such as computer security are still needed, according to Shead, but there are a few burgeoning technology trends that may cause spikes in demand. For example, businesses are likely to invest more in big data as the technology to perform analytics with large information volumes matures.

There are also notable skills gaps in certain fields that could drive demand much higher. Despite the rapid proliferation of cloud services, expertise with the technology is in short supply and may provide an opportunity for professionals hoping to expand their skills. According to Shead, experience with Windows Azure and Amazon Web Services are prized cloud qualifications.

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