What are the non-monetary rewards of a career in IT?
While the prospect of generous pay continues to attract many to a career in information technology, it isn’t the only reason so many bright people choose to become IT professionals. IT offers many rewards. From a global perspective, we’re in an era of economic unpredictability with many countries enduring slow growth or stagnation. And in these days, when technology is pushing many occupations into obsolescence, the hope of career stability is a huge draw.
Today, technology is literally found everywhere from farming to education, and more and more people are using an array of devices to access the internet. The demand for professionals who can develop, maintain and secure the apps, systems and devices through which individuals and organizations communicate, transact business and operate is unlikely to drop off any time in the future.
While money is always an attraction to enter a particular field, there are a host of other rewards to be gained from working in IT including:
Career Growth — IT is a continuously evolving industry with numerous career paths in existence and new ones seemingly springing into existence every day. Suitably qualified individuals have plenty of options for acquiring new competencies and moving into high-growth areas.
Variety — Because the industry is ever evolving, it offers individuals access to new concepts and systems. Innovation and rapid change ensure a steady supply of new apps, products and technologies, offering open-minded, curious and fast-learning individuals abundant opportunities to apply their knowledge, imagination and logic. This leaves little room for boredom.
Rising Demand in Some Areas — As the world’s dependence on and expectations of performance for technology increase, employers’ needs for people with relevant expertise and the potential to learn will grow. Every study and report on employment for the coming five years shows an increased demand for IT graduates and professionals.
Cybercrime is also driving the demand as organizations are always looking to hire the expertise needed to secure data and systems. Cyber security, cloud, and big data are all high-growth avenues.
Continuous learning opportunities — If you’re a lifelong learner, then IT may be the right career choice simply because new developments and technologies are appearing all the time. Constant innovation and development generates considerable scope for learning, intellectual stimulation and professional growth.
Employer-Financed Skill Development — Since being on the cutting edge of technology is critical to business success, employers regularly encourage professionals to acquire current IT knowledge and skills, often by paying for relevant certification training with company funds.
International Opportunities — IT is everywhere along with opportunities to work on different continents and with people from different cultures. Many IT companies not only have international offices, but also international clients, which means employees can find themselves transferred to overseas branches or assigned to work onsite for clients in different parts of the world on a multitude of projects.
Global Employability — IT experience and skills are globally recognized. Quality IT professionals enjoy more flexibility in employment than individuals in many other industries. They can find work in other countries if they wish or if circumstances demand.
Creativity — Many developers think of themselves as “makers.” They enjoy creating solutions and products that can enhance or transform people’s lives. Creative people are drawn to IT because there is ample scope to exercise imagination producing new apps, social networking tools and games.
IT Personality Traits
If you find any, all, or some combination of those career rationales appealing, then you may want to consider a career in IT. It’s also worth considering, however, whether you have the right aptitude to succeed in IT. What are the traits of a successful IT professional?
We’ll confine our discussion to personality traits as distinct from mental attributes such as intelligence. While research overwhelmingly indicates that effective programmers and other IT pros tend to be very intelligent, intelligence is independent of personality type.
Though there is no definite correlation between personality types and IT, tech environments do tend to be abuzz with a preponderance of independent, highly-focused, open-minded, curious, and conscientious individuals.
While many programmers fit this description, not all are solitary types or even highly imaginative. And not everyone in IT is a programming ace. IT pros also perform vital functions in tech support, customer service, project and risk management, and business analysis.
Conscientious people do tend to be more productive because they pay attention to detail, which is important not just for writing code, but also for system maintenance, network administration and tech support. They are also likely to be disciplined and prefer working according to a plan. Planning enables efficient management of time and other resources, thereby helping ensure positive outcomes.
Openness and adaptability are two other traits valued in the industry because handling change well is critical in a work environment wherein project specifications are prone to frequent change, and because technology evolves rapidly. You should ask yourself if constant change makes you look forward to new and exciting opportunities or does it worry you?
Regardless of whether you’re in software development, network administration, tech support or IT management, you need to be enthusiastic about change. Individuals who welcome change and are focused on learning and being in on the latest developments have the potential to carve out a lasting and successful career in IT. If you like continuous learning and are capable of picking things up on the fly, you’d likely be a good fit for IT.
Depending on your role, a certain amount of agreeableness also works well because many functions in IT require collaboration with team members in order to achieve project goals.
Some consultants believe two Myers-Briggs personality types, INTJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging) and INTP (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving), are well suited to technology careers. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that not all IT professionals conform to stereotypes and there is no “ideal tech personality.”
The best way to figure out whether an IT career would prove interesting is to garner some hands-on experience. Interning at a small or large organization will give you exposure to systems, networks, applications and devices, and you’ll learn how to apply technology to make work processes more efficient. If you like working with computers, are comfortable with planning and enjoy solving problems, the IT industry just might be the right place for you.