Acara Highlighted in the Buffalo News

Seeking an $80,000 salary?

No, the job market is not exactly booming in Western New York.

But there are some opportunities to earn the big bucks, whether it’s by making a lateral move to a company in need or by advancing to a higher position.

“I think a lot of people have a misperception of the market, so someone might be complacent in their career and unaware that there is opportunity for advancement,” said Carrie Calamel, an account executive at Acara, a staffing agency.

David Walia, lead software engineer at digital technology company Adiant in Amherst, has a bachelor’s degree in computer and electrical engineering from the University at Buffalo.

He decided to pursue the field after a high school class piqued his interest.

“The salary was definitely a factor,” Walia said. “I also did enjoy doing the work. When you enjoy doing work, it is easier to work hard at. It requires hard work to be successful at any career.”

Information technology service is one of the five hottest industries in Western New York, with jobs paying $80,000 per year or more.

If you’re deciding on a college major or considering going back to school, here are a few fields to keep in mind:

Health care IT

Job titles: Information technology manager, project manager, quality-assurance lead.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 set forth new requirements regarding electronic medical records and electronic health records, causing a boom in the demand for IT professionals in the health care industry as companies scramble to update their systems.

The jobs are available within hospital systems and insurance companies, and can pay more than $80,000 per year for experienced professionals.

Fidelis Care recently advertised 75 highly compensated openings, while Independent Health, HealthNow, Catholic Health and Kaleida have been hiring consistently.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in computer information systems.

Experience: Minimum of two years.


Job titles: Project manager, database administration, technical lead, director of finance, controller, certified management accountant, internal auditor, financial analyst.

With data breaches of top concern, companies are scrambling to update security measures and rebuild their IT infrastructure to keep accounts and information safe.

With banks such as JPMorgan Chase and HSBC paying billions in fines for violating the Bank Secrecy Act, compliance is also a hot sector. M&T Bank alone plans to pour $150 million into its compliance program to meet anti-money-laundering and other regulatory requirements.

The financial accounting sector is hot, too, especially as area banks expand their operations. Internal auditors, high-level financial analysts, controllers and certified public accountants are in high demand.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting or business.

Experience: Five years.

IT service, solutions

Job titles: Project manager, .NET developer, database analyst, software engineer, quality-assurance lead.

Companies without on-site IT staff, or who need extra IT help for certain projects, such as app development, look to outside IT providers. Because of the nature of the work, and the fact that tech folks are often self-taught, education requirements are highly flexible.

In the highest demand are C# and .NET developers, who develop programs and mobile apps for Windows. They can make well over six figures without much more than three years’ experience.

But perhaps the most sought-after qualification? Interpersonal skills.

“Technical skills are great, but the ability to have soft skills and fit into culture are equally as important,” said Christoper Beckage, a regional vice president with Acara.

“The days of sitting in a cubicle in a backroom like the movie ‘Office Space,’ those people don’t go too far. You have to be able to communicate and interact.”

Education: A bachelor’s degree is common among younger candidates, but experience and ability matter most. For management positions, a master’s degree is a plus.

Experience: A minimum of three to five years.


Job titles: Senior engineer, engineering management, supply chain management, accountant.

Those who think manufacturing is dead in Western New York have never heard of Moog, Harmac Medical Products, Edward Vacuum, API Heat Transfer, Curbell or any of the numerous other companies that depend on technical automated production.

Because advanced manufacturing companies in Western New York compete in a global market, Lean Six Sigma is a big focus. Companies work to squeeze every dime out of their dollar in order to stay competitive, striving for the highest level of productivity at the best cost.

That’s why – in addition to the obvious high-level engineering opportunities – supply chain management and finance positions are also important.

Education: Bachelor’s degree, minimum.

Experience: Minimum of five years.

Life sciences

Job titles: Chemist, scientist, quality control, compliance, research and development.

For life sciences companies that manufacture product, high priorities include environmental safety and quality control.

Because many life science companies are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, compliance is also a large component of the work done. Companies racing to bring medical innovations to market have to conduct a great deal of clinical data research, analyzing and reporting on the products of tomorrow and today.

There is a big and growing demand in Western New York for these positions, more than a quarter of which tend to fill with candidates from outside the region.

Education: Chemists and scientists will have a master’s degree or Ph.D. Other positions require a bachelor’s degree at minimum, though higher education can give candidates an edge in some circumstances.

Experience: Generally five years.