According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, information technology is “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 IT has become so popular over the past few decades, and, if you are currently in this successful industry, how to succeed yourself and advance 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 when companies began putting computers on every employee’s desk for business purposes. As those purposes grew more complex, computers needed people specializing in IT to “create, adapt, and maintain both the hardware and software that would support business activities” (Vista College, 2018). As IT became a necessity for companies and their technology needs, they required their employees to have degrees, which led to universities slowly adding IT-related courses for students to receive IT degrees. Since technology is constantly evolving, universities constantly updated their own technology catalogues, 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, 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.
IT 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 $38,640.1 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 career in IT can as well. There are endless opportunities to learn more about new technology by taking IT courses to develop new skills and knowledge. As you gain experience and knowledge in IT, professional opportunities will come with that. New roles and next-level positions will start to open up in different companies and industries that might pique your interest, and with well-rounded education and experience, you can feel more confident applying for them!
Variety in Industry Opportunities
Think of any industry. More than likely, IT professionals are employed there. Every industry is using technology that in some way needs the help of someone in IT, whether it’s a company website, an app, the internet, company phone system, etc. There are a variety of jobs within IT, from Web Developers, Systems Administrators, Database Administrators, Software Developers, CTOs, Project Managers, etc. that will continue to grow as technology does.
In the IT industry, IT professionals make up 56% of the workforce, 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!
Now that you’ve decided to be in the IT industry, here’s how to succeed in IT and advance your career.
1. Education & Experience
Gaining more education and experience can open new doors; whether you’re applying for a new position in-house or at a new company, 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, when you gain even 2 years of experience, there are more advancement possibilities. The IT 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.
2. Soft Skills
Along with IT and critical skills gained from education and experience, another skill that IT 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. As an employee, willingness and 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. Management will be impressed if you can not only work independently, but work with, lead, and mentor people on your team.
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.
3. Take on Projects
Take on the projects that no one else wants to take on. Employees can be afraid, unenthused, or uninterested in taking on projects. You might be part of this group as well. Volunteering to lead a project that your peers avoid shows your boss you can take the initiative on a project even when you don’t want to. 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. While your work ethic and skills are important, it’s also crucial to get exposure in your field to help advance in your career. It may seem daunting to go to a networking event after a long day of work, but 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 when the next event is!
5. 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.
As we mentioned above, education is a good, solid foundation and, if used and applied with new experience, can be a viable long term advancement method.
Experience, gaining knowledge and skills, and working in an independent and team environment 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 can make it known to your employers that by hiring you and investing in your career, your advancement and achievements will pay back to them.
Finally, having a good professional network can build and lead to your success. Whether you’re looking for someone to exchange ideas with, a new job, a business partner, a mentor in your industry, a reference for a job, or anything else. A network 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!
1 Computer and Information Technology Occupations. 12 April 2019. Bureau of Labor Statistics. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm
2 Information Technology Jobs. 25 June 2019. The Balance Careers. https://www.thebalancecareers.com/tech-careers-4161774