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Vendors to Drive RFID Job Growth

Why does it pay to get ahead now by mastering RFID concepts and practicing real-life implementations in specific markets? Not just because the job market demands business-savvy technicians with big skills and bigger plans. Companies also want employees who know how RFID can scale to specific industry needs, whether it’s automotive supply chains or pharmaceutical pedigree tracking.
Oct 19, 2006This article was originally published by RFID Update.

October 19, 2006—This is the second of a two-part series on RFID training, job markets and career opportunities. Also see part one, RFID Industry Hungry for Pros with Experience.

It's clear that demand in the coming years will be strong for those experienced in RFID. What is not yet clear is where the demand will come from, and what the hottest areas will be.

As the number of trainees enrolled in RFID-specific courses or working at companies creating RFID products increases, so will the number of areas in which a technician may specialize.

"The sub-specialties and specific requirements within RFID go multiple layers deep," Mike Shiff, general manager of RFID Recruiters, tells RFID Update.

Companies looking for RFID workers generally are providers focused on developing a particular RFID technology, such as tags, printer applications, readers, or middleware, Shiff says. These companies seek employees with expertise in sub-technologies (such as active tags or RFID printers) or in the particular vertical or consumer application being supported by the technology (such as retail or healthcare).

"As an industry RFID has a strong and growing pool of talent overall but a relatively small pool of workers that are ideally suited for each specific open RFID position," Shiff says.

"Most RFID end user companies evaluate and implement RFID with multi-disciplinary teams that include people already in place to handle marketing, engineering, manufacturing, operations/supply chain management/logistics, IT, and finance."

"One of the great promises of RFID, as with all IT, is to reduce labor costs, not increase headcount," says Shiff. "Companies that produce RFID technologies and sell them are going to be the people that add the most workers, rather than end user companies like Wal-Mart that are trying to take labor costs out of their business by improving supply chain visibility."

Still, even though specialized training will be in demand because of the growing number of government and commercial RFID applications on the market, gaining the specialized knowledge to compete in niche markets will be a challenge. Many of the short term RFID training courses focus on basic concepts and implementations; longer-term courses are just now getting established at universities.

To supplement basic training, OTA Training president Robert Sabella suggests that students who are trying to gain market edge seek out internships that are tailored toward their long-term career goals.

As the level of expertise evolves, it is possible that educators, vendors, and computer organizations will offer higher-level skills education. CompTIA, which administers the RFID+ certification program, is an example. "We've not committed to developing additional layers of RFID certification, but you may see things tangentially involved with RFID like wireless -- and we may work them in tandem," CompTIA vice president of e-business and software solutions David Sommer tells RFID Update. "They're two interwoven technologies, and typically you're using both in most implementations in RFID. We may have a higher level of certification; we have not ruled that out."
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