The IT sector has changed a lot in the past ten years which leaves many aspiring IT students wondering whether or not a career in the IT industry is a wise move.
When you go back into the history of business productivity, machines have always provided a way to improve business processes regardless if the industry is manufacturing, a corporate entity, small or medium sized enterprise, or other. Although the IT sector has significantly changed within the last decade, the requirement for IT in terms of business productivity and reducing costs is an essential part of remaining competitive in today’s marketplace.
Would it be wise to stay clear of IT altogether in 2014?
Not necessarily. If you are considering a career in IT, it is important to be aware that the roles of many careers in the IT industry are changing with technological advancements. This does not mean that there are fewer IT careers available. Instead, it means that IT professionals are still highly in demand except in a different way.
For example, a career in the telecommunications industry used to be considered separate from the IT sector. However, most business phone systems now use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and smartphone technologies which allow business professionals to perform additional functions. For this reason, the telecommunications industry is now employing IT professionals with a redefined role as these skills are necessary to maintain modern telecommunications technology.
Additionally, the increased use of mobile and web technologies have also redefined careers in the IT industry. For example, in the past, a website was an optional commodity which was viewed as an extra for a brick and mortar business. Currently, a website has become a requirement in the global marketplace in order for a business to remain competitive.
Additionally, the back end office infrastructure to a website is essential for streamlining customer relationship management (CRM) tasks, sales tracking, meeting modern customer service demands, product promotions and information, help desk support, and much more. This means a business has a lot to lose if the website platform is not properly maintained. Depending upon the size of the business, it could mean a significant loss in business revenue and customer retention as well.
So, is it a wise career move to work in IT? Absolutely. As long as you continue to stay on top of the latest developments in new technologies and how they are being used by subscribing to IT industry publications in addition to other resources which help you to stay up to date. If you have already been working in a specific field in the IT sector, maintain your certifications and stay on the lookout for the changing roles in your specific skillset.
Is it the glamorous industry that everyone thinks it is?
In this regard, we would have to say “yes” and even more so with new and emerging technologies. Regardless of the specific area of IT you choose, there is tremendous opportunity for a respectable salary, job availability, and advancement potential as long as you carefully review your options and keep up with emerging trends associated with your specific skillset.
Basically, many of the IT careers such as software engineer, systems analyst, database administrator, telecommunications specialist, computer tech support, web developer, network security specialist, and many others are still intact. The main thing to remember is that the roles have changed with advanced technologies.
A career in any of these areas can have an earning potential of $30,000 to $62,000 for the entry level, $45,000 to $87,000 for mid-level, and $76,000 to more than $130,000 for the high level range.
Is it as financial rewarding as it once was?
The answer to this question is “yes.” A career in software engineering is likely to bring the highest salary since there is a significant growth in the demand for software engineers as the result of cloud technologies, back office task software platforms, apps for the mobile environment, customized applications for virtualized environments, CRM platforms, and more.
The average salary range for a software engineer in 2014 is approximately $62,000 entry level and $87,000 for mid-level. Highly experienced software engineers can earn in upwards of $132,000. The same salary range is applicable for IT professionals now working in the telecommunications industry.
- Telecommunications Specialist:
Telecommunications careers are now one of the fastest growing careers in the IT industry and allow you to work with the latest cutting edge technologies. A career in this area involves working with the relationship between computers and telephony. This area of IT is often assumed by the former IT profession of computer administrator.
Your position may also include overseeing the installation of VoIP telephony systems, designing systems for voice and video transmissions, and maintaining the entire telecommunications infrastructure. At the entry level, the earning potential is in the ballpark of around $52,000, $75,000 for mid-level, and more than $120,000 for a highly experienced telecommunications specialist.
- Systems Analyst:
If you choose an IT career path as a systems analyst, the role of a systems analyst has slightly changed to working with a broad range of professionals with a diverse skillset. The collaboration helps to determine the best infrastructure that will meet the individual needs of an enterprise and within a specified budget. This involves decisions regarding databases, hardware, networking components, Internet connectivity, security, and more.
A career as a systems analyst can also extend to infrastructures associated with the cloud and virtualization which is why this sector of the IT industry is expected to grow to more than 20 percent over the next ten years. For 2014, the expected salary at the entry level for a systems analyst is predicted to be approximately $51,000 with an expected salary of $77,000 at mid-level. High level system analysts have an earning potential of more than $120,000 annually.
- Network Security Specialist:
The field of network security specialist is rapidly growing as more enterprises and individuals are opting to store their data electronically or in the cloud. This is especially true for companies that are embracing worker mobility with the capability to access data from anywhere at any time. It also means more use of secure networks such as a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and other tools which enhance secure access.
Network security specialists often train staff on the latest security issues and help to develop detailed company policies related to information access using a wide variety of different devices including smartphones. This requires knowledge of the compliance laws which govern the manner in which companies store sensitive information and customer data.
In terms of salary. A network security specialist can expect to earn approximately $45,000 at the entry level and $63,000 at mid-level. A highly experienced network security specialist can expect to earn more than $120,000 annually.
- Network Administrator (see wiki page):
A career as a network administrator has significantly changed with the increased use of datacenters for cloud and virtualization technologies. Virtualization represents a way for businesses of all sizes to reduce costs while increasing productivity with access to the latest technologies.
Instead of managing both the hardware and software components of a single network, the current role of a network administrator is to oversee multiple machines, servers, VoIP systems, printers, wireless connections, Ethernet connections, and much more. If you work in a data center, your skills are much more diverse than those required for a small business with a single network.
As a network administrator in the current IT industry, you can expect to earn approximately $51,000 at the entry level and $62,000 at mid-level. High level network administrators typically earn more than $110,000 annually.
The above IT careers are a few of the top IT careers for 2014 which is an indication that the IT industry is not slowing down any time too soon. There are also other careers in IT worth looking into such as database administrator, computer tech support, health informatics, webmaster, and web developer which can also command upper range salaries, not to mention careers associated with up and coming technologies such as the use of Google Glass and others.
Currently, the job availability for the IT industry looks positive. Depending upon the specific area of IT you choose, job availability ranges from 209,000 employment positions available annually to more than 908,000 in the global marketplace.
Where is a good place to start?
If you wish to broaden your knowledge then the best place to start is in the IT Outsourcing sector. Although this is a high pressure environment, the knowledge you will gain within the first 12 months of working on a helpdesk will prove invaluable to your career. I worked in London for Our IT Department for over 10 years and the experience I gained set me on path of becoming a fully qualified consultant.
The first step you should take when deciding on a career in IT is by taking a self-inventory. What are your specific interests? Do you like working with people or do you prefer to work alone? What specific skillsets do you have and feel confident applying to a work environment? What areas of technology do you consider interesting and exciting?
It is important to start with some of these basic questions. For example, if your math skills are very weak, you may find a career as a software engineer frustrating and discouraging. On the other hand, if you have a knack for adapting to new technologies, you may do well in a career as a telecommunications specialist.
Next, you should consider the type of work environment you prefer. For example, some careers require you to work in an office where others require work in the field. Additionally, some IT professions require special clothing and gear, physical exertion, or sitting behind a desk all day. Although you may like your career, these are factors that can wear on you if it is not an environment conducive to your preferences.
You should also take a look at the unexpected skills which may be required for a specific area of IT. For example, if you work as a systems analyst with a supervisory role, this position requires good communication skills both verbal and written, business application expertise such as Excel spreadsheets, and the ability to plan and meet deadlines.
The opportunity to advance in the career of your choice should also be considered. What are some of the other ways you can apply your skillset in the future? What other areas of IT are your skills in demand? Is the company you are considering working for willing to provide advancement opportunities?
Finally, once you have decided on the direction you wish to go in terms of pursuing a career in IT, review each educational institution to make certain they can provide you with the skillset that will get you where you want to go. Since technologies are constantly changing even over a two or four year period when you are pursuing your degree, it is important to make sure the educational institution is constantly looking toward the future.
Then once you complete your degree and certifications (if required), it will be necessary to constantly stay on top of the newest technologies and emerging trends to leave yourself open to new opportunities.
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David is an IT consultant of 10 years and counting. In his spare time, David holds seminars offering advice to those that are looking for career advice in the IT sector.