If you’re thinking about going into information technology, we have prepared an honest overview of the field so you can decide for yourself if the world of tech is right for you: When you’re standing on the precipice of a new career, taking the plunge can be scary. No one likes being stuck in a job they hate, but getting out takes hard work, grit, and a little luck. You might know that IT is one of the fastest growing industries in the world but deciding to make it your new career is not easy. Never fear! If you’re thinking about going into information technology, we’ve talked to our seasoned veterans in the field so you can decide for yourself if the world of tech is right for you. They answered our questions in ways that they wish someone would have prepared them as they started their IT career journey.
Let’s begin at the Help Desk
Let’s not beat around the bush about the hardest part of IT: Interacting with people whose patience has been ground down until they are ready to throw their computers out the window. This is especially true for the Help Desk. What’s more, for people employed in positions such as Systems Administrators, Network Engineers, or anything cybersecurity related, even a small mistake can mean big problems for a company and its data. With cybersecurity horror stories floating around, it is bound to be a high-pressure field. Fortunately, with big risk comes big rewards in terms of IT professional salary. According to Glassdoor’s most recent salary audits, the estimated salary for someone in the IT field is $77,536 per year. Systems Administrators are in huge demand with average salaries around $101,874, and that can go as high as $155,000, while Network Engineers make anywhere from $82,776 to $105,466 per year. The real money is in cyber security which has an unprecedented need for new professionals. More and more, companies are prioritizing people who are willing to learn quickly. Many positions garner over $100,000 with the salary for a seasoned, specialized professional such as Data Security Analyst between $77,436 and $111,207. As you can see, the pay scale for IT professionals is a huge draw. Employers use several other incentives and benefits to snag the top talent like signing bonuses, health insurance, generous vacation time, and professional development opportunities. Perks are also a big draw and can include flexible work schedules, social events, telecommuting, onsite/offsite gym access, a compressed schedule, and even free/subsidized meals.
Unfortunately, tech problems do not work on a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule. They can strike at 6 a.m. or five minutes before you were planning to leave. This is a job that asks much of its employees and that is no different when it comes to their time. Fortunately, companies understand that and deeply appreciate and value the time of their IT pros. They want you to be rested, de-stressed, and ready to deal with whatever the servers throw at you. This sometimes means you can pick your own schedule, work on a compressed schedule, or even telecommute (work from home). This is great for anyone who hates getting stuck in traffic at the end of the 9-5 slog.
No One Understands Your Job vs. Unparalleled Job Security
IT comes with an almost endless number of specializations. Do you want to work on securing networks? Fighting cyber-attacks? Or maybe you are just interested in updating and maintaining systems? No matter what, there is a field for you. Unfortunately, that means that people at your company will not always understand what your duties include. You could be a Systems Administrator, but still get asked to fix someone’s home computer. You will be the go-to tech expert, even about stuff that is not in your job description. What is next? Fix their iPhone? Debug their Fitbit? Talk about scope creep. On the flip side, being an IT pro comes with unparalleled job security. Of U.S. News & World Report’s 20 Careers with the Most Job Security Right now, several were IT positions, including software developer, IT manager, This is especially true for cyber security. According to the nonprofit group ISACA, organizations are struggling more than ever with hiring and retaining qualified cybersecurity professionals and managing skills gaps. Meanwhile, ComputerWorld issued a recent IT jobs report showing that IT occupations across all industry sectors increased by an estimated 239,000 positions during the summer of 2022, according to an analysis of US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data by CompTIA. Tech industry employment 20 consecutive months of growth, and so far, this year, the tech sector has gained 143,700 jobs, an increase of 55 percent year-over-year, according to CompTIA. All of this just goes to say: You will be valued. You will be needed. Most importantly, you will be hard to replace and that is a good feeling.
People Lie vs. Challenging and Exciting Work
How did your computer get a virus? Why do all these pop-up ads have the name of a website you should not be browsing at work? Why is there peanut butter and mustard smeared all over the keyboard? (And why are you eating peanut butter and mustard? That’s just weird). Personal snafus with the computer are embarrassing. No one wants to own up to that dumb thing they did. However, figuring out what is wrong can be frustrating when people are not honest about how the computer got messed up. What’s worse than your coworkers lying to you? Vendors lying to you. In this article from Tech Republic, they discuss the difficulty of debugging software from a third party when their support will not admit that something is wrong. (Our software? Buggy? Never!) “You can also expect to be lied to by vendors' technical support departments. I have lost count of the number of support technicians over the years who have told me that a problem is not related to their software, but rather to the computer's hardware or to the operating system. And of course, I won't even begin to talk about the number of vendors who have lied to me to make a sale.” On the bright side, what makes this job difficult also makes it challenging and even fun. IT is all about solving problems and that is reflected in job satisfaction. According to CompTIA, job satisfaction in IT fields remains high: “And while there will always be some who thinks the grass is greener on the other side, IT remains a profession in which a very significant (and impressive) percentage of its workforce truly enjoys going to work each and every day and making a difference.” And, if you ever don’t feel appreciated, you know you can find somewhere that does appreciate you…
Many Options and Unlimited Mobility
Whether you’re interested in working on hardware, software, networks, databases, cloud security, or more, there is a niche for you. Picking your career path can be nerve-wracking, to say the least. You can get bogged down in a specialization before you realize that it is not where you want to be. No one wants to be extra-qualified in something they hate. Fortunately, that also means qualified professionals have many options and career mobility. Since there is such a tremendous need, especially for cyber security, more employers are embracing nontraditional paths for employment. IT certifications, which qualify and verify your skills, are one of the best ways to show employers you have got the right stuff. With the ever-widening cyber gap, employers are more likely to invest in someone who shows they are willing to keep on top of the updates on their own time, even if they do not have picture perfect experience on their resume. Quick learning and the passion for improvement are invaluable commodities.
Is an IT Career Right For Me?
Ultimately, it is a matter of personal preference. Some people cannot handle the long hours, difficult work, and stress of interacting with people at their most frantic. However, if you are interested in challenging and exciting work where you get to solve problems, you could have a long, well-paying IT career ahead of you with salary and benefits. If you are interested in becoming an IT pro, but do not have the time or money for a four-year degree, IT certifications can be a great way to get into the field. At ACI Learning, we offer five-to-15-day courses that get you ready to pass the exam, get certified, and put those skills to use in the working world in no time. We focus on the IT professional certifications that employers want the most. We know you have responsibilities. That’s why we offer classes during the day and at night. Whether you prefer to take classes on campus or online, you will be getting access to our expert instructors who will prepare you to kick butt on the exam and teach you to excel in your new IT professional career.