Despite the recent layoffs in the tech industry, talents with technical skills like software engineering are still in high demand. An October 2022 survey by ZipRecruiter found that among tech workers who were recently laid off, 37% found a new job within one month, and 79% found a new job within three months. And according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall employment in technology occupations is projected to grow 15% in the next decade, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, despite this positive outlook, many still wonder whether a career in technology is a wise choice.
[See: The 25 Best Jobs of 2023.]
Should You Pursue A Career In Tech?
So, what’s the verdict? Should you pursue a career in tech? Vikram Bodicherla, a software engineer at Meta, says it’s a good idea — even if you don’t have formal education in technology. He wrote in an email, “The job market in tech is slowly turning into a skills-based market. This transition reduces the dependence on an expensive four-year college degree and opens the market up to anyone willing to self-teach.”
He emphasizes that it’s quite common to see tech workers without a degree build an incredible career — often starting at startups and moving on to established large companies with great perks and six-digit salaries. He says, “As long as you’re willing to put in the hours and constantly improve your skills, the technology job market has a lot to offer.”
Most In-Demand Careers in Technology
Here is a list of the most in-demand tech careers to explore if you’re considering taking the plunge into the tech industry.
1. Software Developer
Software developers are the backbone of the tech industry. They design and build computer systems and software products to solve real-world problems. There are many types of software developers, the most common being front-end, back-end and full stack developers. Front-end developers work on the parts of the software that users interact with, such as the user interface. Back-end developers focus on the behind-the-scenes functionality of the software, such as the server and database. And full-stack developers are experts in both the front and back end.
While a bachelor’s degree in computer science is a good idea, a degree alone won’t always help you land a job in software engineering. Typically, hiring managers prefer candidates who can demonstrate their coding skills through real-life projects rather than those who rely solely on their academic background.
Median Salary: $120,730
Job Growth Potential: 26%
2. Information Security Analyst
Information security analysts are responsible for maintaining the security of an organization’s computer systems. Some of their duties include monitoring networks for potential security breaches, assessing and mitigating potential risk and implementing security measures such as firewalls and encryption protocols. To become an information security analyst, you’ll typically need a bachelor’s degree in computer and information technology, engineering or math.
Median Salary: $102,600
Job Growth Potential: 35%
3. Data Scientist
In today’s data-driven world, data scientists play a pivotal role in shaping a company’s success. As the name suggests, data scientists are professionals who glean insights from the data they collect to help drive decision-making in an organization. They often use advanced analytics techniques, such as machine learning and predictive modeling, to transform raw data into meaningful information businesses can use to their advantage.
Many data scientists have a bachelor’s degree in statistics, computer science, business or engineering. However, you don’t always need a four-year degree to work in this field. Many boot camps and online programs offer courses to help you acquire the necessary data science skills in a shorter timeframe.
Median Salary: $100,910
Job Growth Potential: 36%
4. IT Manager
IT managers, also known as computer and information systems managers, are professionals who plan, coordinate and direct any activities related to a company’s computer and information systems. For example, fixing server crashes, removing old hardware and streamlining the organization’s IT systems. IT managers typically have a bachelor’s degree in computer or information science. Some employers may even require IT managers to obtain a graduate degree, such as a Master of Business Administration.
Median Salary: $159,010
Job Growth Potential: 16%
[See: 25 Best Jobs That Don’t Require a College Degree.]
Required Skills for Technology Careers
Here are some examples of soft and hard skills to develop if you’re considering a career in the tech industry. Keep in mind that the precise skills required will differ depending on the specific role you’re targeting.
— Creative thinking.
— Communication and collaboration.
— Time management.
— Analytical skills.
— Project management.
Hard (Technical) Skills
— Cloud computing.
— Data analytics.
— UI/UX design.
— Computer graphics.
— Front-end and back-end software engineering.
Pros and Cons of Careers in Tech
Before accepting a job in tech, weigh the pros and cons to make an informed decision about whether it’s the right fit for you.
— Rising demand. Because technology is constantly evolving, especially in areas such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, there will always be a demand for workers with specialized skills in those fields. So despite the recent layoffs and hiring freezes in tech, the demand for skilled technology workers is still high.
— High-paying salary. The average salary for tech workers in the U.S. broke six figures in 2021 — reaching a record high of $104,566. If you work for Big Tech companies like Google and Meta, you could possibly make even more. According to data compiled by The Wall Street Journal, Google paid their employees an average of $295,884, while Meta’s employees received an average of $292,785. These numbers are nothing short of mind-boggling, but they also reflect the incredible demand for skilled tech workers.
— Meaningful work. As technology continues to shape our world, those working in the industry have the unique opportunity to create meaningful solutions that can impact millions worldwide. By building innovative technology focusing on solving real-world problems, tech workers positively influence society in a way that few other professions can.
— Lack of diversity. According to data compiled by the online recruitment platform Zippia, more than 62% of jobs in tech are held by white Americans, and only 26.7% of tech jobs are held by women as of 2022. Because diversity is often seen as a safeguard against groupthink, the lack of it in tech could cause the industry to become stagnant and stuck in a cycle of narrow-minded thinking.
— Fast-paced. The ever-changing and fast-paced nature of the technology industry can be stressful since companies must keep up with the latest trends and developments to stay competitive. Because of this, employees are often under pressure to meet tight deadlines while delivering high-quality work — which can often lead to burnout.
— Isolation. For tech workers, like software engineers, their work often requires them to hunker down and focus for long periods of time — leading to more solitary work environments. Of course, they still participate in meetings and brainstorming sessions, but most of their work is often done independently. If you value constant human interaction, a tech career may not be your cup of tea.
[See: Best Remote Working Jobs.]
Tips for Starting a Career in Technology
Securing your dream career in tech can be challenging without a game plan. To make your entry into the industry easier, we’ve gathered valuable tips to help you break into tech and land your dream job.
1. Research to define your career track.
“Tech is a broad industry with many different verticals and roles,” says experienced technical talent acquisition partner Kenyetta Nesbitt. So if you’re interested in tech, take the time to research and define your career track. For example, she recommends you Google the “top tech jobs in 2023” to give yourself a baseline. Then, based on the results, “narrow down a list of the top five to 10 jobs that sound interesting and research the knowledge and skills required to be successful in those roles.”
2. Begin upskilling. Once you’ve identified your skill gaps for your desired roles, look for cost-effective ways to begin upskilling. Nesbitt says you don’t necessarily have to enroll in a degree program to learn technical skills like UX design or coding. She advises that you start by “taking advantage of YouTube videos, free coding platforms, low-cost boot camps or internships.”
3. Make a LinkedIn profile. Joseph Onifade, an experienced software engineer and founder of ForSoftwareEngineers.com, says, “You must have a LinkedIn if you want to get opportunities in tech” since many tech recruiters use the platform to reach out to potential candidates. Onifade received interviews at companies like Google, Facebook, Indeed (his current employer) and Doordash as a software engineer thanks to having a profile on LinkedIn. “It only takes an hour or so to set up a decent LinkedIn profile, and you’ll passively receive opportunities within the tech industry. It’s one of the most worthwhile things you can do as an aspiring tech worker.”
4. Master a specific technical skill.For example, If you want to become a software engineer, master a single programming language before dedicating your time to learning anything else. Onifade says he’s seen many people “get lost in shallowly learning many programming languages, frameworks and libraries, which ultimately hurts them because they end up not knowing anything proficiently enough to be productive in a workplace.” Instead, if you can demonstrate your mastery of a key technical skill during the interview process, recruiters and hiring managers are more likely to take notice and invest in your development over time.
The Future of Tech Is Bright
Technology is a lucrative and ever-evolving field filled with opportunities. And with virtual reality, facial recognition, artificial intelligence and cloud technology gaining traction, the demand for tech-savvy individuals will only continue to rise. So, if you want to explore new horizons and break into the tech industry, now is the time to do so.
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Is Technology a Good Career Path? originally appeared on usnews.com