IT Jobs: Are They for You?
There’s no question that information technology (IT) is and will continue to be one of the most attractive fields for a thriving career. Many see IT jobs as sure things – for high salaries, job security, and great working conditions. And for many, IT jobs do deliver on those promises. However, as is the case with jobs in almost any field, IT jobs ensure that you get what you give.
The pros of IT jobs
There are a lot of factors that make IT jobs appealing, particularly to students, new graduates, and young job seekers in general who have an interest in technology. Here’s why:
- High demand – IT jobs are consistently in high demand and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.
- Relatively high salaries – According to Adecco Canada’s own 2013 Compensation Guide, IT jobs across the country can pay more than $60,000 per year after just a couple of years’ experience, as is the case, for instance, with test technicians, while others can pay well over $100,000 a year within a similar timeframe, as is the case with some data architect jobs.
- Relatively inexpensive education costs – Not all IT jobs require a four-year degree from a university. Many are available for those who have the right hands-on experience or who have completed the proper college program and/or certifications, which cost less than university by comparison.
- Many specialties available – As a field, IT is comprised of many, many different jobs and specialties. This variety means IT professionals have a lot of choice, not only between different subsets of IT, but also between being generalists or highly specialized experts in specific niches. Some of the most sought-after IT designations in Canada include Project Management Professional (PMP), Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate or Expert (MCSA/MCSE), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), and Cisco Certified Network Associate (CNNA).
- Perpetual change keeps things interesting – IT jobs are constantly evolving due to technological change, making them some of the most stimulating roles out there.
- Opportunity for growth – The proper marriage of technical skills, business acumen, and soft skills (such as communication, interpersonal, teaching, and teamwork skills) can give any IT professional a real shot at the C-suite.
The not-so pros of IT jobs
Although IT jobs are generally plentiful, interesting, in high-demand, and pay well, the field is not without its disadvantages. Prospective IT professional should keep the following in mind:
- Long hours – Many IT jobs require after-hours work, on-call shifts, and even weekend shifts. Some positions are also known for sporadic high-stress periods. Such is the reality for many IT professionals, particularly new ones. However, the long-term promise of more senior positions, with more consistent hours down the road, is often worth it for many.
- Competition – Despite high demand – in fact, partly because of it – competition for IT jobs can be frustrating. That’s why it’s important to set oneself apart by showcasing those skills that other candidates are less likely to have. As touched on above, those with the most promising futures in IT are those who can show they have business and soft skills on top of technical expertise. These perennial skills are becoming more and more popular as IT departments continue to better align their objectives with the specific goals of the organizations they serve.
- Perpetual change keeps things interesting, but also precarious – Grappling with changes in technology is part of what makes IT jobs so exciting. However, that does put the onus on individual IT professionals to proactively stay on top of the developments in their fields, which can be dramatic – even career-changing. The good news is that a lot of organizations will offer to pay for some, if not all, of the education necessary for their IT people to upgrade their skills.
Insights from the field
Adecco asked Patrick Weeren, Managing Director of IT Recruitment Services at Roevin, Adecco Canada’s IT, engineering, and technical specialty brand, how IT jobs have changed recently and how the field will change in the near future. Touching on the IT subset most workers are familiar with, tech support (a.k.a. the “help desk”), Patrick highlights a trend that is welcome news to every Canadian IT professional. “Tech support has experienced a drastic shift in the last 12 to 18 months, moving from an offshore, outsourced presence back to the more traditional onsite teams,” he says. “That’s because companies are looking for their tech support teams to play an intricate role in their day-to-day operations and to work side-by-side with other personnel in the office, not just over the phone. As companies are offering their employees more and more work-from-home and other remote work options, tech support is increasingly expected to work effectively with telecommunications tools such as Microsoft Terminal Services, Citrix, Skype, video conferencing technology, and mobile support across all platforms.”
These trends underscore the growing importance of soft skills in modern IT on top of the need for ever-broader technical skills and knowledge. Notes Patrick: “Tech support professionals must have experience supporting not only desktop and peripheral technology, but server and network environments too. The days of just having an A+ certification are long gone and employers are looking for more.”
Of course, tech support is only one drop in the sea of IT specialties, and when it comes to the field as a whole, Patrick is optimistic about the future of go-getter Canadian IT professionals because of what he sees happening in the market. “The Canadian economy continues to improve, especially in the IT space,” he says. “As a result, companies are leaning more towards the hiring of full-time staff as opposed to short- and long-term contractors, and they expect this full-time staff to cover varying levels of expertise.”