RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Information technology professionals remain in hot demand, according to the latest Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index.

With national, state and regional employment numbers already running at 96 percent, business’ growing appetite for skilled IT professionals is good news for job seekers.

According to Robert Half, a net 12 percent of chief information officers are looking to add headcount in the second quarter of this year. That compares to a net 8 percent in the same quarter a year ago. The 12 percent projection is also the second highest quarterly total since 2002 – right behind the 14 percent projected for the first quarter of this year.

Of 1,400 companies surveyed, CIOs are looking to add workers primarily to support business growth, so many people in corporate America apparently aren’t too concerned about recent doom-and-gloom offerings from former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.

CIOs cited the following reasons for needing more people in the survey conducted for Robert Half, which provides IT and finance workers:

• Business growth: 36 percent

• Increase customer support: 28 percent

• Enterprise resource planning: 14 percent

• Systems upgrades: 8 percent

• Information services: 5 percent

• Regulatory: 3 percent

Isn’t it interesting that increased customer support is such a big reason for hiring? More people must be buying goods and services and thus requiring support. In an increasingly global competitive marketplace, let’s hope improved customer support will become an even stronger product differentiator.

By category, here are the top job needs:

• Networking: 19 percent

• Help desk/end-user support: 14 percent

• Data base management: 12 percent

• Internet/intranet development: 10 percent

• Project management: 8 percent

• Information security: 7 percent

• Systems analysis: 4 percent

By sector, the hottest is in finance/insurance/real estate with a net 38 percent of firms surveyed planning to add workers.

Transportation (19 percent) and retail (17 percent) follow. Business services came in at 14 percent followed by professional services at 13 percent.

By specific category, CIOs are looking for:

• Windows administration: 73 percent

• Network administration: 62 percent

• Data base management: 60 percent

• Firewall administration: 50 percent

• Wireless network management: 46 percent

Robert Half has much more information at its Web site. If you are an IT pro and are looking for a job, check it out.