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Today there are thousands of IT job opportunities in the U.S. Opportunties exist with major tech companies like Google and Apple, with small-and mid-sized tech firms, in the IT departments of companies of all sizes in all industries, and with nonprofits and government agencies. There are many job opportunities, but applicants often must be willing to move to pursue good job leads, work nontraditional schedules, and otherwise adjust their expectations based on the position being offered.
Job applicants should also be aware that strong competition exists for jobs at hot IT companies. For example, Twitter received an average of 230 applications per open job in 2015, according to Fortune. The odds of getting hired weren’t much better at Google, which received 200 applications per available job. As a result, you must use every resource available to find job openings.
But even before you begin your search, you'll need to find out if a job in IT is a fit for you. To that end, below are the main pluses and minuses of positions in information technology.
1. Tech is cool. It carries cachet to be on the cutting-edge of technology, and help design and build the next iPod, app, or smartphone.
2. A fast-growing industry. Strong employment demand is predicted for many IT occupations. For example, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) reports that employment for information security analysts will grow by 37 percent through 2022. Job opportunities for software developers will increase by 22 percent during this same time span.
3. Career diversity. Opportunities are available for techies, creative types, communicators (sales, marketing, social media), and people with almost any type of skill set and personality type. There are many opportunities to transition to other careers in the field.
4. Good pay. Those employed in computer and mathematical careers earned mean annual salaries of $83,970 in May 2014, according to the DOL. This is much higher than the mean salary for all occupations, $47,230. Additionally, if you get in on the ground floor of a promising start-up, you might get a big payday if the company goes public.
5. Geographic freedom. Opportunities are available throughout the United States and all over the world. Some positions allow you to work from home.
6. Happy workplaces. Many tech companies have a reputation for offering fun, laid-back, positive work environments. Nearly 50 percent of IT professionals surveyed by Computerworld in 2015 reported being "very satisfied" with their decision to pursue an IT career, and 36 percent reported being "satisfied" with their decision.
7. Great perks. Top companies offer excellent benefits such as free fitness classes and meals, paid sabbaticals, on-site medical care, paid maternity and paternity leave, and complete medical/dental benefits. Some perks are just plain fun. Health care tech giant Epic Systems has a tree-house conference room, a moat, and an Indiana Jones-themed tunnel at its corporate headquarters.
1. Limited job security. The tech industry is constantly expanding, contracting, and restructuring. Some U.S.-based jobs are being outsourced to foreign countries.
2. Constant deadlines. When on deadline, you may have to work long hours, including at night and on weekends.
3. Constant learning. Since technology changes constantly, you’ll need to stay up to date throughout your career by attending continuing education classes, as well as by renewing your certifications or earning new, in-demand designations.
4. Unhappy workplaces. Some tech companies have a reputation for being stressful places to work at because of unrealistic expectations by managers, excessive work hours, or sexual and ethnic discrimination.
5. Sedentary work environment. Many jobs involve a lot of time in front of a computer.
6. Fewer opportunities for some ethnic minorities. In 2014, only 4 percent of software developers in the United States were African American and 5 percent were Latino, according to the Department of Labor. The industry is making efforts to increase these percentages, but progress has been slow.
7. It’s a man’s world. Women are underrepresented in most tech occupations. For example, in 2014, only 20 percent of software developers were women, according to the Department of Labor, despite the fact that women make up nearly 50 percent of the U.S. workforce. This gender imbalance sometimes creates uncomfortable or even hostile work environments for women. One bright spot: women made up 39 percent of Web developers in 2014.
The above was adapted from the new Vault Career Guide to Information Technology.
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