Unless you were raised in a remote village, you have most likely heard the term Information Technology or "IT" for short. We use IT to describe a wide variety of industries, jobs, and technology, but have you ever stopped to ask yourself, "What exactly is IT?" or "Where did it come from?" IT is quite possibly the most integral part of our modern civilization, acting as not only the glue that holds it together but also the catalyst that propels it forward.
To understand IT's current and future state we must start at its origins and how it has transformed throughout the years.
Information Technology: the study or use of systems (especially computers and telecommunications) for storing, retrieving, and sending information.
By this definition, you could say that Information Technology has been around some 65,000 years, the age estimation of the earliest known cave paintings where humans were most likely recording what they saw in everyday life.
Information Technology is no stranger to evolution; it evolves hand in hand with humans and our unquenchable thirst to advance.
From ancient cave drawings to alphabets and words, the complexity of what we could create has only been limited by how long it takes us to come up with improvements in Information Technology.
In 1945, the development of a stored program concept allowed for programs to be read into a computer. Its significance may have not been completely realized at the time but the possibilities of Information Technology had grown exponentially because of it. This development laid the foundation for the unprecedented achievements that took place in IT for the next 50 years.
Notable achievements that led to modern IT
1975 — MITS, the first personal computer was released.
1973 — Bob Metcalfe invents Ethernet (using a medium such as coax as an ether to send and receive data).
1989 — A person at an organization called CERN develops a document called Information management: A proposal that addresses the problem of accessing information and proposes the idea of linked information systems.
In 1993 — After developing the World Wide Web, CERN put the software in the public domain making it free of charge for anyone to use.
With this event, modern Information Technology was reborn. It was now a truly collective technology for individuals and enterprises to improve upon and utilize for their own endeavors. This opened up the flood gates for Information Technology and ushered in what is known as the Information Age.
The driving force behind the continual advancement of Information Technology can be explained in one sentence.
Humans want to store, recover, and share as much information as possible as quickly as possible in order to learn as much as possible.
A more modern definition of Information Technology is: the use of any computers, storage, networking and other physical devices, infrastructure and processes to create, process, store, secure and exchange all forms of electronic data.
This means that every computer device and all vital technology related to these computers' functions and operations, including the jobs involved, fall under "Information Technology." This term can be broken into six sectors: IT support, Networking, Cyber Security, Computer Systems, Programming, and the World Wide Web. Yeah, that's a lot of different things!
Worldwide, by 2025 there will be an estimated 38.6 billion devices connected to the internet, according to Statista. In 2030, That number is expected to explode to over 50 billion!
Those astronomical numbers almost seem too high to be true, but when you think about it, in the United States the average person most likely has a computer, cell phone, router, and possibly a smartwatch or Google Home. That's five right there, and soon almost every bit of tech available will be internet connected.
With all of this tech, lots of humans are needed to create, install, maintain, and protect it all.
According to CompTIA's Cyberstates Report, in the United States in 2020, there were 3.9 million postings for tech occupation job openings. This trend is showing no signs of slowing down, with shortages of workers in all six sectors of Information Technology.
The six sectors of jobs for Information Technology can be defined as:
IT Support Technicians – provide assistance for individuals having technical problems with hardware and software.
Networking Technicians – set up, administer, maintain and upgrade networks, allowing devices to interact with networks.
Cyber Security Experts – protect systems, networks, and programs from digital attacks.
Computer Systems Analysts – the multitaskers of information technology; they have to understand computer hardware, software, and networks—and make them work together.
Programmers – write and test the code that makes up software programs.
Web Developers – build websites and the infrastructure behind them.
Cybersecurity has been hit particularly hard by this shortage. Within the next eight years need for cybersecurity analysts is expected to increase by more than 31.%. With average cybersecurity salary being 2x that of the median national wage, why is the industry having trouble filling such desirable positions?
There are a few reasons this problem exists.
People do not understand what IT jobs are.
People are unaware of the booming IT job market.
People think it takes years to get into IT and don't know about alternative paths to IT employment.
For example, compared to a traditional four year degree, in less than three months, day or night, individuals can get trained, take exams, and be ready for a role in the IT industry by attending the Computer User Support Specialist program at the ACI Learning Hubs. Note that this program is for individuals with little to no IT experience.
Careers in cybersecurity and the other IT sectors typically start off in a technical support role, which the Computer User Support Specialist program at ACI Learning is specifically designed for. As seen in this chart from Competitive Position's salary report, the earning opportunity for IT professionals only grows over time.
The great part about entering the IT industry with the Computer User Support Specialist program completed is that students gain exposure to multiple areas within IT, so when they start to advance their career they know what area suits them and their future best.
There's also a massive shortage of upper-level talent in IT. A great way to move forward in an IT career is to pick a certain area to specialize in. Specialized positions command a higher salary and are in very high demand right now. For those looking to specialize in cybersecurity, the Information Security Analyst program at ACI Learning is a great next step.For those looking to get into networking, the Network Administrator program can take you from an intermediate to advanced network professional in just a few weeks. For every step of your career there is an ACI Learning program that can help you take advantage of this booming industry in order to create a brighter future for you and your family.
Some argue that the term "Information Technology" is a misrepresentation of modern IT and all it encompasses, but this term has engrained itself so deeply into the modern psyche, it shows no sign of leaving us anytime soon. Like the ancient cave carvings created by our ancestors, the media and uses of Information Technology will continue to evolve with humans.
The bottom line is Information Technology will be around as long as there are humans around. To ignore the opportunities presented by Information Technology and to neglect the problems threatening its advancement will only hurt our communities in the long run. That is why understanding IT and its many facets is necessary for anyone interested in moving forward in our current society.
ACI Learning is on a mission to help people improve their lives through training for careers in IT. Lives are not only improved through starting a stable career but through the outstanding salaries offered by these IT positions. Filling the jobs gap and participating in advancement of Information Technology will continue to help people come together and lead better, more productive lives.