According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, information technology is defined as "the technology involving the development, maintenance, and use of computer systems, software, and networks for the processing and distribution of data”, and was first used in 1978. Since then, it’s been a constantly growing industry. In this article, we discuss how and why information technology has become so popular over the past few decades, and, if you are currently in this successful industry, how to succeed in advancing your IT career.
Why Is Working in IT So Popular?
Let’s go back to the beginning of Information Technology (IT). The idea of having a job in IT first emerged as a concept in the early 70s. It was then when companies began using computers for business purposes. As business needs for computers grew more complex, computers needed specialized professionals in IT. It was the responsibility of those IT specialists to “create, adapt, and maintain both the hardware and software that would support business activities” (Vista College, 2018). This led to universities slowly adding information technology-related courses to their curriculum. Since technology is constantly evolving, universities are constantly updating their technology catalogs, making IT degrees even more attainable and desirable.
Since computer science has been introduced into universities' curriculums, more and more students who once aspired to go into business, banking, finance, etc. are changing the direction in which they take their career to IT, and here’s why.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer and IT occupations are projected to grow 13% from 2016 to 2026, with the addition of 557,100 new jobs, which is faster than the average for all occupations. The large increase in employment opportunities is due to prioritizing “cloud computing, the collection and storage of big data, and information security” (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Stats like these mean there’s no better time to apply and find that perfect job to build your IT career.
Information technology professionals are highly valued - just look at the high salaries that come along with their profession. In May 2018, it was reported that their average annual wage was $86,320, which was higher than the average for all other occupations by $38,640. This wage has matched the average continuing into 2019. According to Glassdoor, the average base pay for an IT professional is currently $86,159 (Glassdoor.com).
Since technology is constantly growing, your IT career will grow as well. There are endless opportunities to learn more about new technology by taking courses to develop new skills and knowledge. As you gain experience and knowledge in information technology, professional opportunities will present themselves. Those opportunities might pique your interest, and with well-rounded education and experience, you can feel more confident applying for them!
Variety in Industry Opportunities
Every industry is using technology that, in some way, needs the help of someone in information technology. There are a variety of jobs in IT, from Web Developers, Systems Administrators, Database Administrators, Software Developers, CTOs, and Project Managers, and that list will continue to grow as technology does.
In the information technology industry, 56% of the workforce are made up of IT professional. However if you or someone you know is looking to work in IT but isn’t an IT professional, the other 44% are managers, admins, accountants, sales representatives, customer service representatives, and other workers that keep the business and company up and running smoothly.2
Succeed in IT & Advance Your Career!
Education & Experience
Gaining more education and experience can open new doors. Regardless of what role you are applying for, degrees and certifications will help elevate your career. While it is nice to have these degrees and certifications, IT hiring managers, internal recruiters and IT staffing agencies will advise you not to overload on degrees and certifications. Companies are not only interested in what you know; they are also interested in how you apply that knowledge.
Experience is the one thing you can’t advance in a career without. In IT, even 2 years of additional experience can lead to advanced career opportunities. The information technology professionals that are Mid-Senior level with 6-10 years of experience are typically the most sought-after talent in the IT industry. While experience is great, it’s not the only thing IT professionals need to advance. They also have to be able to keep up with the new and emerging technologies because knowing a “Legacy System” won’t be desirable to every employer. Showing that they can do this while also gaining experience with critical skills, such as Java, .NET, business analysis, project management, QA, web development, etc.
Along with education and experience, information technology professionals should become familiar with are Soft Skills. Here are some soft skills to gain:
Communication: You will definitely need great written and verbal communication skills for any work situation, whether for your current company, or if you’re looking to interview. The ability to effectively communicate ideas is very important.
Presentation Skills: Along with communication skills, presentation skills are very helpful. The ability to present in front of your peers and higher-ups makes you stand out from the rest of your colleagues.
Time Management: Plan out your days and prioritize what needs to get done. Effectively managing your time to get work completed is a very desirable trait to an employer.
Team Player: Being able to put your head down and work is a great quality to have because it demonstrates your ability to focus. However, just as you work independently, you also need to be able to work in a team environment. The ability to working independently and also lead and mentor people on your team shows valuable flexibility.
Positive Attitude: Working in IT can be challenging. Staying optimistic and encourage others as this makes a great team player and employee.
Self Confidence: Having a healthy sense of your own abilities isn’t as common as you might think. Believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to speak up, provide ideas, and ask questions.
Response to Criticism and Stress: The best learners know how to effectively handle stress and ask for constructive criticism to improve their skill set. They also learn how to effectively manage themselves and work with impending deadlines.
Take on Projects
Take on the projects that no one else wants to take on. Volunteering to lead a project shows your boss you can take the initiative on a project even if you find it challenging. It also shows you’ll take a risk to ensure a project’s success. Even if it doesn’t go how you expect, learn from it, try again, and when you succeed, your efforts and achievements will be noticed.
Networking is one of the most important things to get out and do during your career. As in any industry, the more people you know, the more doors will be open to you. Exposure is always a benefit in career advancement. While it may seem daunting to go to a networking event after a long day of work, they can be very rewarding. Networking should be part of every career advancement plan, and for it to be successful, it needs to involve more than just going places and talking with people. It’s about building connections, relationships, and a network to have at your disposal. If you’re new to networking or looking to brush-up on your networking skills, The Muse has some great tips to get you started!
Are you an IT professional, tech enthusiast, entrepreneur, etc. looking for a networking event to attend in the LA area? Look no further! HIRECLOUT sponsors The Tech Huddle event series, which hosts mixers, demos, speakers and more! Join the group here to find out more about our next event!
Create Goals & A Plan
In any career, if your goal is to advance, it’s always good to have a plan. In the IT industry, career advancement opportunities are prominent. The possibility of advancement is more achievable with a plan.
Education is a good, solid foundation and, if combined with new experience, can be a viable long term advancement method.
Using your experience in both an independent and team capacity will give you the background you need to boost your advancement possibilities.
Soft skills (communication skills in particular) are a must, even for the most highly skilled and talented IT individuals.
Setting personal and professional goals leads to growth for both you and your company. Your employers will see that investing in your career is good business all the way around.
Finally, having a good professional network can build and lead to your success. A solid network can lead to an exchange of ideas, a new job, a business partner or mentor. Networking can prove to be very beneficial.
If you're looking for a new company to help advance your career, IT staffing agencies can help! Visit us online or call us at 818.882.2000 to find out how HIRECLOUT’s talent hiring services can help you find The Right Company!