IT Careers and Why They're in Demand

IT is one of the most dynamic sectors of the economy. Three companies in the Fortune 500 Top 10 are players in this space: Amazon, Apple, and Alphabet (Google’s parent company). So are many other corporations that are household names, like Dell, Microsoft, and Intel. The U.S. leads the world in growth and innovation in this area.

All of that dynamism relies upon one key resource: people. That means jobs in this field have been growing and are expected to continue to do so at a healthy rate.

If you’re interested in a career in IT, you might be wondering a few things like, “What’s behind this growth, and is it sustainable? What are some specific IT careers in demand? How can I get started?” 

Keep reading for some answers. 

 

What is IT?

Let’s start by clarifying our terms: What exactly is the IT sector? 

You probably know IT stands for information technology, which is a broad concept that encompasses any hardware and software that has to do with the generation, transmission, storage, and processing of all kinds of information, including telecommunications and the Internet, and anything related to it. 

If we consider IT in terms of roles, there is plenty of diversity. Some are within IT design for hardware and software, others within designing systems, including networking and setting them up. There are also roles that focus on support, installing and troubleshooting IT resources, and training end users to get the most out of their systems. There are many other types of positions as well.  

 

Why is IT growing? Will that growth continue?

Looking back over the past two decades, the IT workforce has grown substantially. Its total employment stood at 5.5 million in 2020, and it increased during this period at an average annual rate of 2.2%. (For comparison, the average annual increase for all employees is just .4%.)

 


 

Moreover, that rate of growth is accelerating. It was 1.2% a year from 2001 to 2010 and 3.1% a year from 2010 to 2020. IT employment even grew during the pandemic while the aggregate of overall employment fell 5.5%

What’s driving this growth? Put simply, almost every area of life is becoming more reliant upon digital technologies.

Expansion has been particularly strong in software and services. The computing assets consumers and businesses use are increasingly remote and accessed through the cloud. The popularity of the software as a service (SaaS) model is a parallel development that has made complex digital technologies indispensable to many core business functions.

There’s no reason to think this trend is going to reverse. Breakthroughs in AI, machine learning, robotics, and wireless technologies are expanding the usefulness of digital technologies and the range of their applications.

But there’s a worry here: Aren’t advances in AI and robotics going to mean many jobs currently filled by humans will be handled by machines in the future? Probably. However, this revolution is likely to create even more jobs in the tech sector than it destroys. 

IT job growth has been steady for years and seems poised to continue. Let’s look at some specific career areas within IT that are in demand right now.

 

Top IT careers in demand 

Cloud computing 

The cloud is the system of servers and software accessed over the Internet that allows end users to make use of computing resources that are housed remotely. 

As network infrastructure has made connections faster and more reliable, cloud computing has grown rapidly in importance. It is a very cost-effective way for businesses to store data and access software since it removes the need to make massive investments in onsite computer hardware. 

Some jobs in this area:

  • Cloud engineer: A cloud engineer manages the technical aspects of implementing and maintaining cloud-based solutions for an organization.
  • Cloud architect: This person designs the systems and infrastructure necessary for cloud computing.

Cybersecurity

As businesses conduct more of their operations online and over local networks, they are at an increased risk of having customer or internal data stolen or corrupted. Attackers are becoming more sophisticated, which means businesses need specialists trained to prevent, detect, and address the latest kinds of threats. 

Some jobs in this area:

  • Information security analyst: This is an entry-level position, and the person filling this role would be responsible for things like monitoring networks for security issues, helping implement best practices to keep endpoints and users secure, and investigating security breaches.
  • Penetration tester: Pen testers try to discover weaknesses in a business’s IT systems so any vulnerabilities can be addressed before they are exploited by others with malicious intent. 

Data Science

The shift of many of our daily online activities means that we create large amounts of data, including everything from images to text to information about user behavior. 

This has created a need to find efficient and effective ways to process this data to make it useful for both consumers (who want relevant search results, for instance) and businesses (that rely upon insights from data analysis to make smart business decisions). Data scientists meet this need by developing tools for data analysis and deploying them to yield actionable information. 

Some jobs in this area:

  • Data analyst: Responsible for examining data, uncovering insights, and creating visualizations, the data analyst turns raw, unstructured data into actionable insights for an organization.
  • Marketing analyst: This person focuses on data related specifically to a company’s digital marketing efforts. They assess the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and provide recommendations for optimizing performance.

Software and web development

Professionals in this area work on the programming that lies behind everything that happens in IT. This includes operating systems, applications, and the coding needed to create websites.

Some jobs in this area:

  • Software engineer: Software engineers conceptualize, design, and write software to solve problems or meet business needs. Their role can include maintaining, updating, and optimizing existing software as well.
  • Web developer: These specialists build websites. They might implement designs created by others or be part of the design process as well. They are experts in languages used for the web, like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. 

Technical support

The IT systems that enable so many business operations are complex and most end users are not experts in the technical details. This creates a need for support personnel who can set up systems, help users learn to operate them, and fix problems as they arise.

Some jobs in this area:

  • Help desk technician: This person helps users within an organization address problems that arise when using computing resources. Help Desk Technicians also often install and maintain software, hardware, networking devices, and peripherals.   
  • Technical support specialist: This person often focuses on a company’s customers, helping them use and solve problems with the company’s IT products or services. This support is typically provided over the phone.

 

 

How can you get started in an IT career?

IT is a growing area with many career opportunities. If you think it may be a good fit for you, how can you get started?

The answer will depend on which season of life you’re in. If you’re still in high school, you have lots of options, including pursuing a degree in IT

On the other hand, if you’re already a working adult, you are probably looking for a path that allows you to begin your IT career much more quickly and that doesn’t require you to put your life on hold.

If that’s you, there are three reasons why technical support is a great place to begin: 


  1. Every business needs it, and it’s one of the roles in IT with the greatest number of job postings

  2. It’s relatively easy to enter with minimum training and preparation. 

  3. It will give you exposure to all the main areas of IT, providing a stepping stone to more specialized roles later. 

CompTIA Career Tech Academy has created our online IT-Ready Technical Support program to give you everything you need.

No matter your background, you can start a new career in the exciting field of IT. Ready to see what’s possible? Explore the details.

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