The Information Technology World | A Great Place to Be |
Published in the November/December 2012 issue of print Search & Employ® |
Anyone who has worked with information technology professionals for an extended period of time has probably witnessed the change. The days when a company called on its IT staff only because the Internet was “broken” or a computer was down are long gone.
In 2012, IT professionals are connected to almost everything that gets done in the business world. They are as important as any other department in most companies when it comes to strategizing, planning, and creating revenue – and not just as supporters of the other departments.
Workwise, the IT world is a great place to be. Why? Because IT jobs tend to pay a lot of money; IT is a growing field; and now everyone knows that all that computer hardware and software requires an IT staff behind the scenes to keep everything humming and useful. These aren’t just the help desk guys who come to fix your computer when it goes down with a nasty virus, but also the men and women who are the masterminds behind massive computer networks and security programs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a part of the United States Department of Labor, classifies IT jobs as Computer and Mathematical Occupations – visit www.bls.gov/emp/ep_table_102.htm and see Table 1 of the BLS article, “Occupational Employment Projections to 2020,” at www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2012/01/art5full.pdf.
Employment in this occupational group grew at a rate of 6.9 percent from 2006 to 2010 – good, but not great. But here is excellent news: The BLS expects 22 percent growth between 2010 and 2020, making Computer and Mathematical Occupations the sixth-fastest-growing group. The BLS projects that the group will add 778,300 jobs by 2020, after adding just 229,600 from 2006 to 2010.
Most of the additional jobs will be in the category of application software developers – 143,800 jobs – while the fastest growing category in terms of percentage will be systems software developers at 32.4 percent. The BLS says the highest-paying category will be computer and information research scientists. Workers in this small category will make an average of $100,600.
A bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field is required for management positions in IT, but many employers will take military experience into account. Some employers require a graduate degree for their higher level managers, especially an MBA with technology as a core component.
Computer and information systems managers play a vital role in the implementation and administration of technology within their organizations. They plan, coordinate, and direct research on the computer-related activities of firms. They help determine the goals of an organization and then implement technology to meet those goals. They oversee all technical aspects of an organization, such as software development, network security, and Internet operations.
Other IT professionals include computer software engineers and computer programmers, computer systems analysts, and computer support specialists. These professionals plan and coordinate activities such as installing and upgrading hardware and software, programming and systems design, the implementation of computer networks, and the development of Internet and intranet sites.
They are increasingly involved with the upkeep, maintenance, and security of networks. They analyze the computer and information needs of their organizations from an operational and strategic perspective, and determine immediate and long-range personnel and equipment requirements.
IT professionals need a broad range of skills. Employers look for individuals who can demonstrate an understanding of the specific software or technology used on the job. Generally, this knowledge is gained through years of experience working with that particular product. Another way to demonstrate this trait is with professional certification. Although not required for most computer and information system positions, certification demonstrates an area of expertise, and can increase an applicant’s chances of employment.
The recession may have dulled prospects for employment in IT for a short time, but new applications of technology in the workplace will continue to drive demand for workers, fueling the need for more managers. To remain competitive, firms will continue to install sophisticated computer networks and set up more complex intranets and websites.
Also, because so much business is carried out over computer networks, security will continue to be an important issue for businesses and other organizations, and will lead to strong growth for computer managers. Firms will increasingly hire security experts to fill key leadership roles in their information technology departments because the integrity of their computing environments is of utmost importance.
So even with the economic downturn and slow recovery, prospects for qualified computer and information systems personnel should be excellent. Workers with specialized technical knowledge and strong communications and business skills, as well as those with an MBA with a concentration in information systems, will have the best prospects. Job openings result from employment growth and a need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force.