Zalud’s Blog has found good and bad news in reports about the job market next year.

For example, starting salaries in the accounting and finance, information technology (IT), and administrative fields are expected to remain relatively flat or see modest declines next year, but some positions will buck this trend, according to the 2010 Salary Guides from Robert Half International.

"A focus on cost control will continue to shape the hiring landscape next year, and starting salaries clearly are being influenced by that trend," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. "At the same time, companies recognize the need to invest in staff members with specific expertise and who can help them capitalize on emerging opportunities." Added Messmer, "In the current environment, some firms are taking advantage of the large pool of top talent now available by selectively adding full-time staff in key areas."

Following is an overview of compensation trends, segmented by field, along with 10 positions showing steady or increasing compensation, according to the Salary Guides as provided to Zalud’s Blog.

Starting salaries for accounting and finance positions are expected to increase by an average of 0.5 percent in 2010. Businesses seek financial professionals who can help manage costs and enhance profitability. Companies also value personnel who possess deep technical expertise, are excellent communicators and collaborate effectively with colleagues across multiple departments.

Positions with the best prospects include:

      1. Tax accountant: Companies seek tax accountants who can help their organizations achieve bottom-line savings through effective tax management strategies. Businesses also need their guidance to maintain compliance with tax regulations, such as FAS 109 and FIN 48. Tax accountants with one to three years of experience at large companies (more than $250 million in sales) are expected to see an average national starting salary in the range of $46,500 to $61,500.

      2. Compliance director: Firms need professionals who can help them comply with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission mandates and prepare for the potential transition to International Financial Reporting Standards. New regulations that are issued as a result of the financial crisis may generate further demand for professionals with the requisite compliance expertise. The starting salary range for a compliance director at a small company (up to $25 million in sales) is forecast to be $83,750 to $108,500.

      3. Credit manager/supervisor: Companies need professionals who can contribute to the bottom line by reducing inefficiencies and enhancing profitability. As a result, credit and collections specialists who can evaluate credit risk, manage delinquent payments and help improve cash flow are in demand. Base compensation for credit managers/supervisors working in small companies is projected to range between $42,500 and $57,500.

      4. Senior financial analyst: Businesses need professionals who are able to evaluate financial plans, forecasts and budgets, and identify ways to improve profitability. A senior financial analyst at a midsize company ($25 million to $250 million in sales) is anticipated to earn $57,750 to $74,000 in starting salary in 2010.

2010 Salary Trends: Information Technology

National starting salaries for IT roles are forecast to decrease by an average of 1.3 percent in 2010. Professionals who are most in demand are able to tie IT initiatives to larger business objectives, helping their firms become more efficient and reduce costs. In addition, managers seek candidates with strong communication skills for projects that involve collaborating with peers in other areas of the company.

Positions with the best prospects include:

      5. Network administrator: Cloud computing, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and Software as a Service (SaaS) have significantly increased the complexity of and requirements placed on networks. Further, chief information officers interviewed for the fourth-quarter Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report cited network administration as the most in-demand skill set. Network administrators can expect to see starting salaries in the range of $54,500 to $80,250 in the coming year.

      6. Information systems security manager: Protecting the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information from internal and external breaches is a must-have for companies of all sizes, making security professionals integral to the IT department. The salary range for an information systems security manager is expected to be $96,500 to $130,750.

      7. Systems engineer: As companies implement new technologies, technical services roles remain critical to the organization. Systems engineers are in demand to help companies develop and maintain technical infrastructure, hardware and system software components in support of a variety of IT projects. Base compensation for these professionals is projected to range from $64,250 to $93,250.

2010 Salary Trends: Administrative and Office Support

Starting salaries for administrative professionals are projected to decrease by an average of 2.2 percent in 2010. However, demand is steady for administrative candidates with broad expertise and the ability to multitask, especially within teams that have been stretched thin and have redistributed work among fewer employees. In addition, firms want support staff, who are confident as they approach unexpected situations, quick to learn new skills and able to help others adapt to change.

Positions with the best prospects include:

      8. Medical records clerk: As more hospitals and healthcare organizations transition from paper to electronic medical records, facilities will seek medical records clerks who can help supervise the scanning and processing of patient data. These individuals can expect to earn a starting salary of $23,750 to $31,500 in 2010.

      9. Customer service representative: In the current economy, hiring managers consider customer service the function most critical to their organizations' success, according to the 2009 Employment Dynamics and Growth Expectations (EDGE) Report from Robert Half and CareerBuilder. The salary range for a customer service representative is projected to be $22,750 to $30,750.

     10. Executive assistant: Companies with leaner teams are looking for employees to take on a wider range of duties. Executive assistants who can wear many hats, support multiple managers and adapt readily to change are in particular demand. These individuals are likely to see starting salaries in the range of $35,000 to $47,000.