The Best Entry-Level IT Jobs

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The IT job market is undeniably strong in the area of job creation, with three of the top 10 hottest occupations through 2010 coming from the technology sector. But for people entering the industry, the challenge is finding a job that won’t be threatened by automation, outsourcing or obsolescence. Because the entry-level technical vocations are fairly simple (at least in relation to the rest of IT) and easy to replicate, they’re the ones that are most vulnerable to being supplanted somehow.


Below is a list of a few low-level occupations that at least will be highly resistant to elimination — if not entirely immune to it — for the foreseeable future.




Field Techs


For obvious reasons, the field tech would be a really tough one to replace. (Can you imagine someone flying from Mumbai to Omaha on a service call?) Thus, it’s a relatively safe move for newbies in IT.


The professional advantages of being a field tech include the enhancement of soft skills that comes from frequent face-to-face interaction with customers and the variety of hands-on experiences someone in this role inevitably comes across. Also, unlike the help desk, this field affords its workers numerous opportunities get out of the office. (Well, at least their own office.)




COBOL Programmers


Much to the chagrin of thousands of programmers, COBOL has been the language that won’t die. Its many incarnations have appeared in countless corporate mainframes for decades now — a decade ago, the Gartner Group estimated it was in 80 percent of the world’s businesses — and it seems that it won’t be going away anytime soon.


One caveat: This occupation is susceptible to replacement, but there are so many positions available that involve working with this code that (at least for the next few years), it will be easy to find other openings.




Network and Systems Administrators


As with COBOL programming, this job role is just too prevalent for any threat to make a significant dent in the number of available positions. Just about every organization of any kind needs these professionals to make its IT environments run.


The benefits of this vocation are many, but a couple of the main ones are the wealth of training and certifications (especially for entry-level techies) that support it, and the fact that this role is a good jumping-off point for in-demand specializations such as security and storage.




Web Developers and Designers


A new and hot field, Web design has been dominated thus far by young IT professionals who don’t necessarily have a great deal of on-the-job experience or formal training and certification in this area. (In terms of the latter, it’s mainly because few offerings even exist yet, but in all probability, that will change in the coming years.)


This is a good area for entry-level IT pros because the barriers to entry are still pretty low. If you know your way around Photoshop and can prove it, you’ve already got a lot of what you need to get your foot in the door. Also, this discipline is unquestionably creative, whereas many other spheres of IT are seen as process-oriented (read: boring) by young people considering a move into the industry.




Video Game Developer


Another creative profession in IT is video game development. The personal appeal of this job for young techies should require no explanation. Professionally speaking, though, this is a booming business that shows no signs of being eliminated. Plus, there are a growing number of development opportunities around this trade. (For more information on that, see Ben Warden’s Career Development article from last month, “Video Game Development as a Degree.”)

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