Why you should work in IT

By Siobhan Keogh

People have a lot of ideas about the IT industry – that it’s just for geeks, that staff code into the night, that it’s boring – but none of those things could be further from the truth. IT is one of the most exciting, and promising, career paths young people can choose – here’s why.

IT graduates are in high demand

The supply of IT workers globally is not keeping up with demand – that’s great news for those studying, or thinking of studying, computer science subjects.

According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Occupational Outlook Report for 2014, demand for workers in STEM occupations is growing. The report ranks careers by income, study fees, and job prospects. The data for the IT occupations ranked – ICT and Telecommunications Technicians, ICT Business and Systems Analysts, and Software Developers – showed that job prospects in the industry were good.

Because demand for IT graduates is high, so too are the incomes. Software developers and business /systems analysts are both high-income occupations, according to the Occupational Outlook Report.

Demand doesn’t show any signs of slowing down – in fact, venture capital is being invested more in software start-ups than in any other kind of company, and developers are on the Government’s long-term skills shortage list.

Something new every day

IT is a diverse field, ranging from hands-on technicians, to programmers, to project managers and analysts. And if you are any one of those things, most IT organisations will give you the opportunity to upskill in whichever way you choose.

The rapid rate of change in the IT industry means that there’s always a new technology to explore or a new project to work on. You’ll never find yourself wanting for a new challenge in the IT industry, and every time you take one on, you become more valuable to both the company you work for and any potential employers.

IT is everywhere

No matter what your interests are outside of technology, there’s something you can work on that will cross over. Interested in books? Your local library has an IT department. Cooking? You could be asked to design a website for your favourite restaurant.

You might not even be that technically-minded – instead of being a developer or engineer, you could work in IT recruitment, management or marketing. People are needed to fill those roles in the IT sector, too.

While working in IT, you’ll find yourself learning about and becoming interested in things you never thought you’d care about. Thinking through how to solve other people’s problems using technology means that you inevitably become invested in the environment that created those problems – and that background could be in anything, such as agriculture, or investment banking, or construction.

You’re never the smartest person in the room

There’s a phrase that goes, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room”. The IT industry is full of some of the world’s cleverest, most innovative people and throughout your career in IT you’ll have the opportunity to learn from them.

Your career doesn’t have to be your whole life

Everyone has a life outside of their career, and IT companies offer a level of flexibility that most industries don’t.

According to Forbes, 50 percent of senior project managers in the US say they can work from home some or most of the time. Network engineers, software architects and IT architects also make Forbes’ list of highly-paid but flexible workers.

It’s totally possible to have a family, a social life, and a successful career in IT. If you need to telecommute sometimes, or need to leave the office to go pick up your child from school, most organisations won’t raise an eyebrow, especially if you’ve proven yourself to be reliable.

Okay, you’re convinced. But how do you pursue a career in IT?

In New Zealand and Australia, your best course of action is to choose a university course in the STEM field. STEM subjects are highly transferrable, so if you work in the sciences you might be able to switch to an IT career later on.

People who come into the IT industry straight out of university have usually studied subjects like computer science, information technology, creative technologies, and information systems. Most of these courses provide an overview of many different technology specialisations, allowing you time to figure out which disciplines you’re good at.

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