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The State of the Information Technology Job Market in 2019

The State of the Information Technology Job Market in 2019

We think it’s time to drop the narrative of robots stealing our jobs. Yes, there are many manual tasks and processes that are now automated (and many, many more on their way) but that simply frees up human time to focus on what we do best  connect, innovate, problem-solve and facilitate. Sure, you may book travel, buy groceries, pay bills and meet people online, but often, the platforms and applications allowing you to do so are connecting you with real people on the other end. Plus, the platforms and applications need regular maintenance, updating and modernization.

So while a recent World Economic Forum report suggests that more than 75 million jobs may be lost to automation by 2020, it also suggests that 133 million new jobs will emerge concurrently, “as businesses develop a new division of labor between people and machines.”

Many of these new jobs will be created in the computer and information technology field, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects to grow by 13% – faster than average for all occupations – adding about 557,100 new jobs by 2026.

The World Economic Forum report says that this industry growth will be driven by technological advances in four main areas: more widespread high-speed mobile internet, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, and cloud computing.

However, these same advances creating opportunities are causing a problem in the information technology job market – a significant IT skills gap. There are 17% more job openings than skilled workers available to fill them, and 70% of executives say their current employees lack tech and computer skills needed to do their jobs effectively.

Aaron Skonnard, CEO and co-founder of enterprise technology skills platform Pluralsight says “from security to the cloud to AI and machine learning, the global skills gap is ubiquitous. This has a significant impact on companies as they try to scale, innovate with new products and services, and compete in the global marketplace.”

By 2020, there are projected to be 5 million positions unfilled due to this skills gap, a shortage that could cost the economy $160 billion every year.

Sixty percent of IT professionals surveyed by Spiceworks said they plan to stay in the field for the rest of the careers – that’s enough people to show that most people who get into IT enjoy it, but enough people planning to move on that the opportunities for people with up-to-date IT and computer skills could end up being even greater than projected.

So what’s the best way to get started on the path toward a career in information technology? While Spiceworks found 30% of tech workers don’t have a college degree (and are potential cases of “accidental IT workers,” those who fell into their roles simply by being the most tech-savvy people in their organizations), the vast majority of professionals have degrees in the field. Secondary education is also the quickest, most efficient path toward an IT career for those who are eager to get started.

Take a closer look at: Information Technology job options

Career colleges and technical schools around the country offer a variety of degree- and non-degree-granting programs that help meet the surging demand for skilled workers in the computer, software and IT field, and help students begin on the path to fulfilling careers. Here is just a sampling of the fast-growing career options available:  

Computer Network Architects

Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree, or five years experience in a related occupation

Median pay (2018): $109,020 annually

Job outlook, 2016-2026: Growing as fast as average (6 percent projected growth) with a projected employment change of 10,500 jobs.

On-the-job training: No

What they do: Most computer network architects work in full-time designing and building communication networks including Local Area Networks (LANs), Wide Area Networks (WANs) and Intranets. They mostly work in offices, but may work in server rooms as well, so they can access the hardware that makes up an organization’s network.

According to the BLS, “Network architects must have extensive knowledge of an organization’s business plan to design a network that can help the organization achieve its goals.”

Computer Network Architects:

  • Create plans and layouts for data communication networks
  • Present those plans to management and explain why they are in the organization’s best interest
  • Design networks focused heavily on information security
  • Upgrade routers, adaptors, network drivers and more to support computer networks
  •  Research new networking technologies to make sure my networks are scalable for the future

 

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Computer Network Architects

Computer Programmers

Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree

Median pay (2018): $84,280 annually

Job outlook, 2016-2026: Declining (-7 percent projected growth) with a projected employment change of -21,300 jobs.

On-the-job training: No

What they do: Most computer programmers work full-time in offices, writing and testing code that causes computer applications and software programs to function properly. Programmers usually work alone, but can work with other specialists on large projects and collaborate with other stakeholders to understand their needs for apps and programs.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that “Computer programmers write and test code that allows computer applications and software programs to function properly. They turn the program designs created by software developers and engineers into instructions that a computer can follow.” They posit the reason for the decline in employment is because “computer programming can be done from anywhere in the world, so companies sometimes hire programmers in countries where wages are lower.”

Computer programmers:

  • Write programs in computer languages like C++ and Java
  • Update and expand existing programs
  • Test programs for errors and fix faulty lines of computer code
  • Create and test code in an integrated development environment (IDE)
  • Use code libraries to simplify the writing

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Computer Programmers

Computer Support Specialists

Entry-level education: Post-secondary degree

Median pay (2018): $53,470 annually

Job outlook, 2016-2026: Growing faster than average (11 percent projected growth) with a projected employment change of 88,500 jobs.

On-the-job training: None

What they do: Computer support specialists are largely employed by computer system design firms, telecommunications companies, and finance and insurance organizations. They usually work full-time, but may not have regular 9-5 schedules. According to the BLS, “because computer support is important for businesses, support services may need to be available 24 hours a day. As a result, many support specialists must work nights or weekends.”

Computer support specialists, otherwise known as tech support, analyze, troubleshoot and evaluate computer network problems, and – if all goes well – fix the problems. They work closely with end users over the phone, by email, over chat messages and in person.

Computer support specialists:

  • Test and evaluate existing network systems
  • Perform regular maintenance to ensure that networks operate correctly
  • Troubleshoot local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and Internet systems

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Computer Support Specialists

Computer Systems Analysts

Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree

Median pay (2016): $88,740 annually

Job outlook, 2014-2024: Growing as fast as average (9 percent projected growth) with a projected employment change of 54,50000 jobs.

On-the-job training: No

What they do: Most computer systems analysts work full-time in offices or from home. According to the BLS, “The further adoption of cloud computing by both large and small businesses and an increasing use of IT services in healthcare settings is expected to increase demand for these workers.”

Computer systems analysts, or systems architects, help an organization’s systems, processes and solutions operate more efficiently and effectively by bringing together (and understanding the limitations of) business and information technology.

Computer Systems Analysts:

  • Consult with managers to determine the role of IT systems in an organization
  • Research emerging technologies to determine if they could increase the organization’s efficiency and effectiveness
  • Prepare cost and benefit analyses so management can decide if IT systems and computing infrastructure upgrades are worthwhile, financially
  • Figure out ways to add new functionality to existing computer systems
  • Design and implement new hardware and software systems
  • Oversee the installation, configuration and customization of new systems
  • Test to ensure that the systems work as expected
  • Train the systems’ end users and write instruction manuals

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Computer Systems Analysts

Database Administrators

Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree

Median pay (2018): $90,070 annually

Job outlook, 2016-2026: Growing faster than average (11 percent projected growth) with a projected employment change of 13,700 jobs.

On-the-job training: No

What they do: Most database administrators work full-time in computer systems design and related services; state, local and private educational services; management of companies; insurance carriers; and data processing and hosting. They may also work for retailers, keeping track of buyers’ credit card and shipping information, or for healthcare organizations, managing patient records.

According to the BLS, “Industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers maintain and repair factory equipment and other industrial machinery, such as conveying systems, production machinery, and packaging equipment. Millwrights install, dismantle, repair, reassemble, and move machinery in factories, power plants, and construction sites.”

Database administrators:

  • Ensure that organizational data is secure
  • Back up and restore data to prevent loss of information
  • Identify user needs to create and administer databases
  • Ensure that databases operate efficiently and error-free
  • Make and test modifications to database structure when needed
  • Maintain databases and update permissions
  • Merge old databases into new ones

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Database Administrators

Information Security Analysts

Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree

Median pay (2018): $98,350 annually

Job outlook, 2016-2026: Growing much faster than average (28 percent projected growth) with a projected employment change of 28,500 jobs.

On-the-job training: None

What they do: Information security analysts usually work full-time at computer companies, business or financial companies, or financial firms. They may occasionally be expected to work outside normal business hours.

The increased demand for information security analysts is fueled largely by the rise in cybersecurity breaches, according to the BLS. It says demand “is expected to be very high, as these analysts will be needed to create innovative solutions to prevent hackers from stealing critical information or causing problems for computer networks.”

Information security analysts:

  • Monitor networks for security breaches
  • Investigate security violations when they occur
  • Install and use software like firewalls and data encryption programs to protect sensitive information
  • Simulate security attacks to look for vulnerabilities in their systems before they can be exploited
  • Develop security standards, best practices and training programs for their organization
  • Recommend security enhancements to management or senior IT staff
  • Helpr users install or understand new security products and procedures

 

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Information Security Analysts

Computer & Network Systems Administrators

Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree

Median pay (2018): $82,050 annually

Job outlook, 2016-2026: Growing as fast as average (6 percent projected growth) with a projected employment growth of 24,400 jobs.

On-the-job training: None

What they do: Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for the everyday maintenance of the computer networks that are critical to the operation of organizations around the world. “Although many network and computer systems administrators are employed by firms in the computer systems design and related services industry, they work in a variety of settings,” says the BLS. “Some might administer systems and networks for financial firms, and others work in hospitals or local government offices.”

They usually work full-time within normal business hours, but might need to work overtime to address issues and make sure companies’ networks are functioning properly 24/7.

Network and computer systems administrators:

  • Identify their organization’s system needs and install network hardware and software that meets those needs
  • Upgrades and repair networks as necessary, and ensure those systems are operating correctly
  • Maintain network and computer system security
  • Evaluate and optimize network or system performance
  • Add users to a network, assign and update security permissions on the network, and remove users when their access is no longer necessary

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Software Developers

Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree

Median pay (2018): $105,590 annually

Job outlook, 2016-2026: Growing much faster than average (24 percent projected growth) with a projected employment change of 302,500 jobs.

On-the-job training: None

What they do: There is a wide variety of career paths available to software developers. They could create computer games, develop the apps that let people do specific tasks on their computers or mobile devices, or develop the underlying systems that run peoples’ computers, devices and networks.

Most software developers work full-time, and it isn’t uncommon for them to work more than 40 hours a week. According to the BLS, “In general, software development is a collaborative process, and developers work on teams with others who also contribute to designing, developing, and programming successful software. However, some developers work at home.”

Software developers:

  • Analyze users’ needs and then design, test, and develop software to meet those needs
  • Recommend software upgrades for customers’ existing programs and systems
  • Design individual pieces of applications or systems and plan how the pieces will work together
  • Ensure that programs continue to function normally through maintenance and testing
  • Document every aspect of an application or system as a reference for future maintenance
  • Collaborate with other computer specialists to create optimum software

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Software Developers

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Web Developers

Entry-level education: Associate degree

Median pay (2018): $69,430 annually

Job outlook, 2016-2026: Growing much faster than average (15 percent projected growth) with a projected employment change of 24,400 jobs.

On-the-job training: None

What they do: “Web developers design and create websites, says the BLS. “They are responsible for the look of the site. They are also responsible for the site’s technical aspects, such as its performance and capacity, which are measures of a website’s speed and how much traffic the site can handle.”

Thanks to the increasing demand for mobile device connectivity and ecommerce, opportunities for web designers will continue to grow over the next decade. While educational requirements for these roles will vary based on the kind of work they do and where, web designers can generally expect to begin their careers with an Associate degree.

Web designers:

  • Meet with clients, management or other stakeholders to discuss the needs and goals of a website
  • Write code for the website, using programming languages such as HTML or XML
  • Work with other team members to determine what information the site will contain
  • Work with graphics and other designers to determine the site’s layout
  • Integrate graphics, audio, and video into the website
  • Monitor website traffic and performance

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Web Developers

Computer & Information Research Scientists

Entry-level education: Master’s degree

Median pay (2018): $118,370 annually

Job outlook, 2016-2026: Growing much faster than average (19 percent projected growth), with a projected employment change of 5,400 jobs.

On-the-job training: None

Working environment: Although opportunities in computer and information research science require more education than most other positions in the information technology field, “computer scientists are likely to enjoy excellent job prospects, because many companies report difficulties finding these highly skilled workers,” says the BLS.

“Computer and information research scientists invent and design new approaches to computing technology and find innovative uses for existing technology,” according to the BLS. “They study and solve complex problems in computing for business, medicine, science, and other fields.”

Computer scientists:

  • Explore fundamental issues in computing and develop theories and models to address those issues
  • Help scientists and engineers solve complex computing problems
  • Invent new computing languages, tools, and methods to improve the way in which people work with computers
  • Develop and improve the software systems that form the basis of the modern computing experience
  • Design experiments to test the operation of these software systems
  • Analyze the results of their experiments
  • Publish their findings in academic journals and present their findings at conferences

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Computer and Information Research Scientists

Stay tuned for our next edition of the magazine where we will discuss business & arts careers.

Interested in going to school for any of these IT career opportunities? Imagine America offers scholarship and award programs for students interested in going to school for IT. IT scholarships, IT schools and IT degrees!

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