IT Careers in Demand: What You Need to Know Before Considering a Career Change to IT
It’s no surprise if you’re thinking about moving into the information technology field. After all, this industry is expected to add over 660,000 more jobs over the present decade and has a median wage across IT occupations of $97,430, according to BLS data.
In addition to opportunity and solid pay, there is also a lot of job security. We rely on computer technology more every year; that means we also increasingly rely upon the people who make it all work.
You probably already know all that. But before you take the plunge, there’s something else you should know too: What are the IT careers in demand right now? Not all areas of IT have the same career prospects. Keep reading to find out the most strategic domains and how to get your foot in the door.
Top Areas Driving Growth in IT
Before considering specific jobs, it is helpful to have a sense of the broad areas that are seeing strong growth and demand right now in the IT sector. These areas will tend to be the easiest ones in which to find a position. Competition for workers also tends to drive up salaries.
Moreover, there are a great number of job titles in IT. There can even be several variations for the same position. Knowing the area that interests you will help you discover all the possible job titles that fall within that domain.
Here are the areas where companies are most in need of workers (drawing on data from job website Monster, staffing company Robert Half, and training company Udemy):
Our lives are full of software. Whether we’re using apps on our smartphones or cloud-based software for work tasks, software is the tool that allows us to leverage computing power to make our lives easier.
All this software has to be developed, and this is a complex and demanding task. It includes major cloud-based products utilized by millions of users and smaller, in-house tools to improve productivity for a particular business.
One of the areas where software developers are especially in demand is creating applications for cloud computing. Cloud computing involves making computer resources available over the internet instead of housing them locally.
A simple example is data storage. If you’re like most people, you probably store many of your files in the cloud instead of (or perhaps in addition to) on your local machine. Another familiar example is your email. Most likely, you use a program that runs in your browser and is hosted remotely.
Cloud computing is experiencing tremendous growth because it has so many advantages for businesses. It allows them to avoid massive up-front investments in hardware and software and instead only pay for what they need on a subscription model. It is also usually more secure and more reliable than having all their computer resources on site.
The growth of the internet has facilitated a concurrent growth in the amount and types of data that are collected by companies. Data science helps companies digest and make use of this data by extracting actionable insights and guiding the way data is collected and managed.
This area also includes the development of sophisticated tools like machine learning and AI that allow us to automate the processing of data and steadily improve computers’ ability to understand and work with it.
For example, the past decade has seen a lot of progress in natural language processing, which enables computers to better grasp ordinary human speech and respond to it in helpful ways. Your ability to call customer service and talk to a computer is one of the fruits of this progress. Another is higher-quality search results in your web browser.
As we do more of our computing online over widely-dispersed networks, security becomes more of a challenge. We have gotten used to hearing about major data breaches and the exposure of sensitive customer data.
In this environment, companies are forced to commit significant resources to make sure customer data, as well as sensitive company information, is kept secure. The challenge is to stay ahead of the novel strategies and techniques used by those looking to steal that data.
As businesses become increasingly dependent upon various types of computer services for their day-to-day operations, they also have an acute need for those who can make sure their hardware, software, and network technology is running smoothly. Those who work in all the categories so far mentioned, rely upon IT operations specialists to do their jobs.
This area includes those who identify hardware and software needs, deploy and monitor systems, train those who use them, and troubleshoot the inevitable problems that arise for end users.
Since practically every business needs computer technology, every business also needs IT operations support — whether on-site or remotely.
In-Demand Jobs in IT
As we noted above, each of these areas will include several different position titles with distinct responsibilities. We can’t give a full catalog of all the possibilities here. Instead, we will highlight a common position within each domain to give you a place to start. We’ll tell you a bit about what each position involves and the average pay for US-based workers.
Domain: Software Development
Position: Software Engineer
Description: This person analyses the needs of a particular set of users or potential users and creates software to meet those needs. This involves conceptualizing, designing, testing, and maintaining the software.
Salary: The average base pay is $126,324 (Indeed.com)
Domain: Cloud Computing
Position: Cloud Engineer
Description: A cloud engineer helps to design, build, maintain, and solve problems for cloud-based applications. This can involve developing particular cloud applications as well as setting up and maintaining cloud networks.
Salary: The average base pay is $120,544 (Indeed.com)
Domain: Data Science
Position: Data Analyst
Description: Responsible for examining data, uncovering insights, and creating visualizations, the data analyst turns raw data into actionable information for a business. The position may also involve web analytics and split testing of web pages and other marketing assets.
Salary: The average base pay is $68,769 (Indeed.com)
Position: Security Analyst
Description: The security analyst guards an organization’s digital assets against attack by performing tasks like monitoring networks, selecting and installing security software, and establishing up-to-date security protocols for the organization.
Salary: The average base pay is $84,947 (Indeed.com)
Domain: IT Operations
Position: Computer Support Specialist (also called Support Analyst or Help Desk Technician)
Description: This person helps install, update, and maintain an organization's computer and networking systems. Sometimes they primarily serve users within an organization, and sometimes their focus is on external users or customers. In either case, an important part of the job is to troubleshoot problems and make sure people can use computer systems efficiently.
Salary: The 2021 median pay was $57,910 (BLS)
Plotting Your IT Career Path
Hopefully, this list of IT careers in demand helped you identify one or more areas that are especially interesting. The obvious next question is: how does one get started in pursuing these positions?
Some of these jobs will require a fair amount of experience, education, or both. If you’re switching careers, you are likely to be lacking in both these areas. Fortunately, it is definitely possible to begin in the IT industry with just a bit of training or technical education.
One common route is to prepare for and acquire a certification. CompTIA Tech Career Academy offers a program that, in just 16 weeks, will equip you with the skills and knowledge that will serve as the foundation for any path you’d like to take within IT. The program prepares you to earn the CompTIA A+ certification, a widely-recognized qualification that prepares you for entry-level jobs in IT operations.
According to Robert Half research, 89% of leaders in tech are willing to hire workers from technical training programs like this—even without a relevant college degree.
Their survey also found companies are investing heavily in programs to train and upskill entry-level workers to prepare them for more specialized roles. This means a job that begins in IT operations could lead to further training and eventually a position in cybersecurity or cloud computing.
Your Next Step towards a Career in IT
IT is an exciting industry with plenty of opportunities. We’ve detailed some of the areas that are most in demand right now (and are likely to remain so for the next several years).
Switching careers into a new field can feel overwhelming, but you don’t have to figure everything out all at once. All you need to do is take the next step. Find out how CompTIA Tech Career Academy can prepare you for the CompTIA A+ Exam and help set you on the right path forward.