More than 10% of jobs in DC region are in IT (no college degree required)

The D.C. region remains a leader in IT employment, with 11.2% of the area’s workforce working in information technology-related professions. The region also ranks No. 1 for tech job postings, according to The Computing Technology Industry Association, or CompTIA.

The group’s annual State of Technology report said there are more than 376,000 people working in IT-related fields in the D.C. area, with 23,480 technology-related companies that account for 13.2% of the region’s overall annual economic impact.

Tech jobs go well beyond technology-focused companies, to banks, health care, leisure and hospitality, nonprofits and associations, and just about every other industry.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 25% of IT workers do not hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. And 85% of HR leaders surveyed by CompTIA support eliminating or relaxing degree requirements in hiring.

Advancing in the IT field still requires more than certifications or prior experience.

“Those could be skills that are technical, but also professional skills like teamwork and communication. So as long as a candidate can build all those skills through another avenue and prove they have those skills, then I think more companies will consider them,” said Seth Robinson, vice president of industry research at CompTIA.

The D.C. region is unique in that many IT professionals here are not necessarily actually doing hands-on technical work.

“A lot of individuals who are probably very technically skilled … might not be doing traditional IT work. They could be assisting on projects. They could be lobbying. They could be consulting. I think there is a higher concentration of that in the D.C. area,” Robinson said.

In fact, 19.7% of IT-related job posts in the D.C. area are in what is defined as “emerging technologies,” a catchall category for IT jobs that do not fit into clearly defined skills.

The estimated median tech wage in the D.C. region is $125,600, according to CompTIA’s annual report, 98% higher than the median metro-area wage. That ranks fourth-highest among top metros.

About 60% of IT professionals in the D.C. region are millennials or Gen-Z. While women and minority employment in the IT field in the D.C. area ranks among the highest in the country, it is still below the overall employment rates, with 28% women, 18% African American and 6% Hispanic and Latino.

The IT industry is a strong driver of the economy and workforce in the D.C. region, but it has matured. CompTIA forecasts job growth in the industry here to be just 1.1% this year.

Artificial intelligence is at the forefront of job growth in the D.C. region, with this area surpassing the San Francisco Bay Area for AI-related job postings, according to commercial real estate firm JLL, driven by both the government lobbying business and Northern Virginia’s leading position among data center markets.

Despite hand-wringing about AI replacing humans and their jobs, Robinson said it will also have the opposite effect.

“We definitely see companies believing that they will use technology and AI in particular to enhance their workforce and to make it more productive. And, as they are making their workforce more productive, it stands to reason that they may want to bring in more workers who can be even more productive with artificial intelligence,” he said.

“Companies will also be cost-conscious, and they will probably want to look for those jobs that can be completely replaced.”

CompTIA’s Sate of Technology report is online, with D.C. region data on page 118.

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Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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