Back in the day every kid you’d asked wanted to become an astronaut, a doctor, or a cop. Many still like those professions today. Yet a good cohort is looking more into the tech industry. “Software developer”, “data scientist”, or “project manager” are now seen as rather prestigious titles both by teenagers and young adults alike.
If you are at crossroads too and keep wondering if technology is a good career path for you, this post should help you come up with an answer.
Is Technology a Good Career Path?
Yes, “technology” as an umbrella term for all career opportunities in the IT and adjacent STEM sectors, is a highly attractive career path. It’s one of the fastest-growing economic sectors worldwide with an acute demand for more talent. 3 in 4 tech teams already face critical skill gaps — meaning they are eager to hire more people. At the same time, the compensation keeps growing. The average salary in the IT services industry is $83K per year, with many senior roles like data science, software architect, or product manager paying north of 100K + benefits.
Also, technology is a good career path for people looking for better work-life balance and opportunities for personal growth. Almost, three-quarters (72%) of IT specialists in the US say they are satisfied with their job — a figure much higher, compared to other professions.
So Why the IT field?
The technology industry has been going strong over the past 10 years. But the past two years were the most decisive. Businesses had to rapidly switch to remote work and digital sales channels to stay afloat. Per McKinsey, industries have collectively vaulted 5 years forward in terms of business and consumer digital adoptions in some eight weeks.
As many business activities — from shopping to banking — have shifted online, the demand for tech talent skyrocketed.
According to various sources:
- Over 44% of businesses plan to increase IT hiring by 30% this year.
- The median wage for tech occupations is 2X higher than the median national wage in the US.
- Over 467,000 jobs new tech jobs were posted last year. This year, the demand is projected to sustain.
- As many as 85 million jobs can go unfilled by 2030 due to tech skills shortages
The above data make it clear: the demand for IT talent is to remain sky-high in 2022 — way head of the supply.
The best part? You don’t need an IT degree or high-profile STEM education to break into the technology sector. The industry is very open to people with alternative education — ranging from self-learning to online courses and professional training (which is aplenty!). Many entry-level jobs in IT also come with on-the-job training. So as long as you have basic digital literacy skills and a willingness to learn, you can easily start making a successful career in technology for yourself.
Popular IT Career Paths: 4 Options
Technology is a wide field with plenty of different roles. Some are coding-related ones — others are not. This means you don’t necessarily have to be a Maths whiz or a programming guru to make it big in the tech world.
To paint a better picture for you, we’ve made a quick overview of the popular career paths in the IT industry.
Developers aka coders, aka programmers, are the first people you probably think of in the tech industry. That makes perfect sense as over 24.5 million people work in software development roles globally as of 2020.
Yet, software development jobs come in different “flavors”. You can specialize by:
- Type of systems you work with: Front-end development, backend development, full-stack development.
- Platforms: Mobile developer, web developer, IoT developer, HMI/industrial engineering developer, etc.
- Programming languages: Java developer, Python developer, Ruby developer, Skala developer, etc.
- Industry: Ecommerce web developer, banking software developer, automotive software developer, etc.
In other words — there are many types of development roles you can explore. And the entry-barrier to most is relatively low. You can learn to code simple websites in HTML via online classes. Then pick more advanced front-end development skills through a coding boot camp or professional certification program.
Sample developer career path
- Intern software developer
- Junior software developer
- Software engineer
- Senior software engineer
- Or Software team lead
While developers write the code to power all sorts of technical novelties, user interface and user experience (UX/UI) designers create visual interfaces for interacting with software. This career track is a good choice for both recent graduates and those looking to switch from adjacent design fields of graphic design or information design.
What’s more — it’s a highly in-demand profession. In 2021, LinkedIn named UI design as one of the top 15 most in-demand skills among employers.
Sample UI/UX designer career path
- Graphic designer
- UI/UX designer
- UX researcher
- Lead UX/UI designer
- UX director
- Or Head of UX Office
Quality Assurance (QA) engineer
All the newly minted software has to be rigorously tested for bugs and glitches. That’s a job quality assurance (QA) engineers take on. Also known as software testers, QA folks employ different software testing tools, frameworks, and techniques to ensure that the released products meet the set range of performance, security, and interactivity criteria.
QA is often seen as an “easy” entry-level career path in the technology industry. You don’t need to have programming skills to be an excellent QA. Plus, there are plenty of free and paid training programs available. Many also offer placements or referrals to employers to the most successful students.
Sample QA engineer career path
- Manual software tester
- QA automation engineer
- Or Pentester (penetration tester)
- QA Team Lead
- Or Senior QA automation engineer
- Head of QA department
So How to Start a Career in IT with No Experience?
The IT industry is full of self-starters — people who told themselves how to code and honed their skills on pet projects. So once you’ve picked up some basic skills, put them to practice. Create a simple website as a portfolio item. Do a series of coding challenges. Make some product mockups as UX/UI designers to create sample test reports for the employer’s website.
Build up a small portfolio of test projects, update your resume with a fresh “layer” of tech skills and relevant certifications, and start applying to open entry-level jobs!