Technology is everywhere. From running a business and governing a country and down to conducting our personal lives, technology solves problems, drives efficiency, boosts information exchange and, generally, makes things better. Hence, the importance of the fourth industrial revolution cannot be realized without technology—and the people behind these technologies.
If you are interested in a technology career, you may find yourself at the frontline of innovations, such as being a part of the talented teams in Silicon Valley. Or, you may be in a field that requires able-minded staff to keep technology running, whether it is a system, hardware or a combination.
For sure, technology careers offer job opportunities. Consider an Institute of Business Value (2020) survey reporting that 60% of companies are fast-tracking their digital transformation. The same thing can be said of the public sector and non-profit organizations.
This article will discuss further the value of technology. It will help those considering technology careers to envision their futures in this exciting and purpose-driven field. Moreover, it will equip them with information regarding the necessary skills, salary, career progression, and alternative paths in technology.
One of the great challenges in the technology sector is the problem of access inequality. We live in a time when all aspects of our lives are touched by technology. And yet, 40% of the human population still has no internet access (Kemp, 2021). If only we could bring modern technology into the lives of our fellow human beings who are not as privileged as 60% of us are, then the world will significantly be a better place.
We need leaders in the technology sector to bridge the digital divide. We need people who will think not only of advancing technology but of spreading it and making it accessible to everyone. Choosing a technology career may mean choosing a path to leadership. More than power and fame, this can mean contributing to a cause for humanity.
Technology can inform your life decisions. You can choose the most economical and efficient devices for personal use with knowledge of technology. You will also be in the know of the best software to help you with every task, such as to increase productivity in the workplace and reach your career goals in technology. If you are innovative, you may even come up with technological solutions to the problems you encounter in everyday life.
A set of skills in technology makes a lot of things that are hard for other people, easy for you. This can range from troubleshooting devices to creating websites and applications to becoming an inventor. Only a few sectors can offer this much room for growth for an individual.
A career in technology means you can be part of a growing industry. In the United States alone, there will be 667,600 more computer and information technology jobs (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021). Globally, the technology industry outlook is also bright. The market size of frontier technologies (i.e. Internet of Things, drones, Solar PV, Big Data, robotics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, gene editing, nanotechnology, Blockchain, and 5G) will grow from $350 billion in 2018 to $3.2 trillion by 2025 (UNCTAD, 2021). This proves that job automation risks are not a threat to technology careers. Contrary to that, technology professionals are the ones making job automation even possible.
Source: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, 2021
There are several statistical data points demonstrating the growth of technology over the years. The most notable ones include the rise in the number of internet users (700,000 people, on average, are going online for the first time every day) and smartphone users (A million new smartphones are coming into use every day) (DataReportal, 2021). This sector growth translates to an increase in the number of professionals needed in the field.
In the U.S., computer and information technology jobs are projected to increase by 13% between the years 2020 and 2030 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021). Some of the jobs within this particular sector can increase by as much as 33%. Below is a closer look.
|Computer Support Specialists||$55,500||9%|
|Web Developers and Designers||$77,200||13%|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrators||$84,800||5%|
|Computer Systems Analysts||$93,700||7%|
|Database Administrators and Architects||$98,900||8%|
|Information Security Analysts||$103,600||33%|
|Computer Network Architects||$116,800||5%|
|Computer Hardware Engineer||$119,600||2%|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||$151,200||11%|
|Postsecondary Teachers in Computer Science||$85,500||12%|
|Computer and Information Research Scientists||$126,800||22%|
Jobs in technology industry are plentiful, with experts projecting that over 600,000 new jobs in the sector will be available by 2030 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021). However, before professionals can apply for these opportunities, they must first gain the necessary skills for the occupation. While these jobs mostly require technical skills, soft skills will still be a necessity for career advancement in this field. Discussed below are some of the technical and general skills that apply to all technology professionals, from entry-level to leadership roles.
A college undergraduate degree is a proven effective first step to technology career paths. In a study published in Education and Information Technologies titled, “Assessing alignment between information technology educational opportunities, professional requirements, and industry demands,” Mardis et al. (2018) concluded that, “State college and university curricula not only reflect national curriculum standards but also prepare students to pass the examinations linked to several desired industry certifications. When internships postings and job postings were considered in light of curricula and national standards, it appeared very likely that many internships would function as a dynamic complement to coursework and certifications and culminate in the changing blend of technical and professional skills expressed in many job postings.”
This section will discuss some of the job opportunities following the acquisition of an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree. It will also inform individuals considering employment through certificates of the opportunities and challenges that will come with that decision.
You can start your path to a technology career with a two-year program. What is an associate degree but the foundation to more complex technology programs. Meantime, this degree allows you start earning income.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) enumerates two types of computer specialists: one focusing on network support, and the other, on user support. Network support specialists provide technical assistance related to network problems. User support specialists, on the other hand, walk users through the process of troubleshooting their own computer hardware or software programs. An associate degree may be a starting point for both types of computer support specialists. However, some employees may require a bachelor’s degree for these positions.
Median Annual Salary: $55,500
BLS enumerates four types of web developers and digital designers: (1) Back-end web developers, (2) Front-end web developers, (3) Web and digital interface designers, and (4) Webmasters. Together, they create websites that serve the purpose and match the aesthetics envisioned by their clients.
Some employers seeking to fill these positions may focus more on a candidates’ portfolio rather than their academic background. For professionals in this field, an associate degree or better yet a bachelor’s degree in web design or other computer-related programs may serve as a guided project in which they can receive feedback from experts while building their portfolio.
Median Annual Salary: $77,200
Administrators assist in installing, maintaining, and repairing computer systems in the workplace. They ensure that internet and intranet connections can be accessed through company devices. At times, they may be also tasked with helping employees solve problems they encounter when using company hardware and software.
Median Annual Salary: $84,800
There are two types of computer systems analysts: (1) software quality assurance analysts and (2) programmer analysts (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021). The first works to improve systems by detecting system flaws. The second, on the other hand, focuses on coding and creating software applications.
Computer systems analysts are expected to mediate the conversations between the IT team and the management. They must have extensive knowledge of both information technology and business and must know how to speak in the languages of both. This is so they can facilitate correct information transfer and establish a common understanding between teams.
Median Annual Salary: $93,730
Administrators and architects work together in designing, creating, and maintaining organizational data. They ensure that all databases of their clients or employers are organized, secure, and up-to-date. To perform the job well, they must be experts in programming and database languages, systems, and applications. Some employers may require certifications that can prove one’s expertise on these subject matters.
Median Annual: $98,860
Information security analysts are responsible for maintaining the data privacy of an organization. They design and implement plans for dealing with cybersecurity threats. Employment opportunities for this position are to grow by 33% between the years 2020 and 2030 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021).
Median Annual Salary: $103,590
There are definitely employment opportunities in technology that do not require a degree since this field is largely skill-based. For instance, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates never graduated from college, and yet they run multi-billion dollar tech companies. That said, if you are looking to be employed in their companies or some other, proof of expertise will still be necessary. This may come in form of portfolios or certifications. If you want a more guided process of career exploration and advancement, you may opt for the more traditional path of going to college.
The average technology careers salary can be quite competitive, especially for those with a master’s degree or a doctorate degree. Individuals who are aiming for leadership or management roles should also consider pursuing continuing higher education. Not only will it make them more likely to prosper economically, but it will also be of high value to their personal and professional growth.
Computer network architects are knowledgeable about the latest technologies that support local area networks, wide area networks, and Intranets. They create data communication network plans based on their assessment of the client’s needs. When implementing these plans, they usually lead a team of engineers. Larger organizations may prefer those who have a master’s degree in a related field.
Median Annual Salary: $116,780
Computer hardware engineers lead the design, manufacturing, and testing processes of computer hardware systems and components. They also work to advance these technologies through research. Prior to practicing this profession, one must get an engineering degree from an institution accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc.
Median Annual Salary: $119,560
Computer and information systems managers direct the day-to-day operations of the IT team. They ensure that IT systems are working as efficiently as possible. Moreover, they determine the technology goals of the organization, create a plan to achieve these goals, and work with top executives, vendors, and other IT professionals in the process.
Median Annual Salary: $151,150
Their job is to design and implement instructional plans, facilitate classroom learning, and create assessment examinations for students. Typically, they need to acquire a doctorate degree to be considered for employment by colleges and universities.
In 2020, there were 37,800 post-secondary teachers in computer science. Statistics also show that for computer science teachers, the compensation rate is a bit higher than the average of all post-secondary teachers which is at $80,560 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021).
Median Annual Salary: $85,540
These professionals often work independently from a company. Their task is to provide solutions to client’s existing problems on hardware, software, and network systems. This job requires them to have extensive experience as well as expertise to provide targeted solutions for their clients.
In 2018, already 128,720 computer professionals are offering technical consultancy services to individuals and organizations. Computer and information research scientists who offer these services earn an average of $135,170 per year (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019). Meanwhile, other computer professionals may earn between $55,000 to $115,000 annually.
Median Annual Salary: $91,440
These professionals are in charge of developing new computing technologies, including programming languages, software and hardware systems, and robotics applications. They often work for think tanks, research institutes, or universities, and are required to have knowledge of industry trends and a strong mastery of fundamental tech skills.
More than three in 10 computer information research scientists are employed by the federal government. By 2030, 7,200 more jobs will be open for this position (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021).
Median Annual Salary: $126,830
Employers in the technology sector often seek certifications from software vendors. For instance, Microsft, Oracle, and Amazon all offer certification programs that will especially be useful to beginners in the field of technology as it will demonstrate that they have these skills that seasoned professionals already have the experience to show for. There are also certifications that highlight specific skills and are not necessarily tied to specific software programs. The following are some examples:
In the career options listed above, the skills needed are largely on computer and information technology. However, the technology sector extends beyond that and needs people who are experts in other areas, such as writing, business, and sales. Below are some career options for those who specialize in areas other than information technology but want to enter the technology sector nonetheless.
Technical writers create documentation of a technology company’s products. In the process of writing, they must familiarize themselves with how the device work, what its technical specifications are, and how to troubleshoot commonly encountered problems.
Median Annual Salary: $69,370
Business analysts gather and interpret an organization’s data to determine the improvement points in their practices. They communicate this information to top executives and spearhead the projects for enhancing technology, systems, and practices. All in all, their goal is to help businesses reach maximum profitability and achieve goals.
Median Annual Salary: $77,200
The main job of sales engineers in the IT sector is to market and sell technological products. Someone with a technology major who wants to shift careers might consider this position where their set of knowledge and skills will still be useful.
Median Annual Salary: $108,830
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021
Throughout the years, humanity has imagined many forms of tech-driven utopian futures. However, today, experts are saying that a tech-driven future will present more big challenges that may make life difficult if not monitored closely. The challenge for the youth today will be to control the available tools so we can make the most of them instead of becoming distractions that keep us away from what truly matters. One way to do that is to be equipped with the technological knowledge and skills that are shaping the future. Getting a college degree in technology will help you prepare for the challenges ahead, both at the personal and societal levels.