Careers: Cheddar, Lettuce, and Bread

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Careers in information technology are viewed as a risky proposition for outsiders who harbor a doom ‘n’ gloom, layoffs-and-outsourcing mindset about the industry that was outdated five years ago.

The numbers tell a different story. Recent studies have shown the field to be very rewarding for the IT workforce, especially where it counts: the bottom line.

I’ll offer a few examples here. The first comes from techie job site Dice, which recently released the results of its annual salary survey. According to that organization’s findings, average IT salaries in the United States increased 5.2 percent from $69,700 in 2005 to $73,308 last year. (This was not far off from CertMag’s Salary Survey, which saw IT salaries grow 6.5 percent internationally last year.)

What’s more, the research showed entry-level income for IT pros rose 13.1 percent to $42,414 in 2006. Strong demand for specialized solutions in areas such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) compliance and customer relationship management (CRM) drove salary growth for both newbies and veterans, Dice analysts reported.

Still not convinced? Here’s another interesting tidbit. The “Job Outlook 2007” study from the National Association of Colleges and Employers found about a quarter of a million jobs in software engineering will be created or open up between now and 2014. Also, individuals in this discipline can expect to earn $77,000 on average in 2007, more than accountants, nurses, chemists or any other high-growth profession.

I could go on, but I don’t think I have to beat you over the head with numbers to get my point across. I also don’t want to suggest I’m wearing rose-colored glasses when I look at the industry. As technology progresses, certain job roles undoubtedly will diminish in importance and number because of trends such as offshoring and automation.

But for the most part, IT is a very healthy industry filled with lucrative career options. It’s still dogged by feelings of uncertainty about its viability, however. As a result, not enough young people are going into this field or even considering it. Ironically, this — not massive job losses — is the largest challenge looming in IT’s future. You and I know that it pays to be a techie, but they don’t. Spread the word!

Brian Summerfield
Senior Editor

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