Why Should I Study IT?

I’m not professing that IT training and careers within IT are the be-all and end-all of futures on this planet. God forbid where we would be without the highly paid football stars to entertain us so well on a week by week basis. Yet there has to be a reason why more and more people are studying for careers within the IT industry.

An interesting development has been the increase in IT training for those people who are seeking a career change or an enhancement to their existing skill sets. In reviewing this, I’m curious as to why IT continues to offer the attraction, and is this option really viable?

Whilst we all accept that in relationships, people and key elements can change. A boyfriend or girlfriend at the age of 10 is often considered a cute thing, but not expected to last. Relationships at the age of 18-20 are often less transient, but again have a higher rate of short-term lifespan than others later in life.

Equally we ask our young people to plan and make decisions as to their working career fairly early on in life, and yet historically there seems to be an inherent resistance to change as times goes on. If we accept that life changes, and we also accept that circumstances also change, then isn’t it prudent for us to accept that career paths should and could change?

The continued dependence of modern society on IT, and IT related factors, leads many people to assume that a career in this field would be reliable and well paid, based on simple economics of supply and demand. Many people see a direct transfer of how they utilise IT systems in a social environment (such as playing games and social interaction on the internet e.g. Facebook etc.) into a career. Is this a genuine realism of a career within IT, and what factors would actually lead towards a successful career?

I believe that a key element in answering this is an understanding that a career in IT is as dependent on factors such as an employer (or client base if self-employed,) and economic issues, as any other career path. However, there is considerable evidence to suggest that professional people within the IT industry can move between employers and industry sectors more freely, due to the wide dependence on IT services across both geographic and industry models.

One of the key elements is the term ‘Professional IT People’ – just as in any other industry, employers have consistently sought human resources where the skills can be proven by both experience and an approved benchmark. This applies whether that is a degree, or recognised apprenticeship culminating in an industry standard qualification, such as electrician and plumber.

The IT industry is no different. Just because many people have access to a computer at home, and can experience many factors of the IT industry in a refined environment, this is in many cases vastly different from the skills and resources required in the commercial sector. I’m sure we’d all agree that spending four hours a night playing games or surfing the internet doesn’t make us a qualified games designer, or a qualified webmaster.

Professional qualifications within the IT field such as MCSE or MCSA are immediately recognizable as an industry standard. Employers can rely upon the skills offered, and as such there is a reduced risk of breach of commercial insurance policies for work and services provided by such people, whether they are self-employed or directly employed.

Anyone seriously considering a future within this field must look at how best to position themselves to become attractive to an employer – and surely holding a professional qualification goes a long way towards this. As it’s the employer or client who pays the salary, we should at least be aware of what they’re looking for in recruitment or engagement.

Plenty of data exists to support the view that the growth in the IT sector is faster and more resilient than many other industry sectors. We’re witnessing a transitional shift in industry sectors, from the first world through to the third world, and the rate at which many growing or ‘tiger’ economies are adapting to (and embracing) long standing IT systems is very fast indeed.

So far within this article we’ve considered the trends, which with the demise of traditional industry and therefore traditional job-for-life expectancies, there will be an increasing propensity towards multiple jobs and career paths throughout our life span.

Furthermore we’ve noted that the IT industry remains consistently attractive as it provides both consistencies in supply and demand, across industry sectors and across geographical boundaries. Current forecasts also predict the increasing long-term reliance on IT systems overall, and the professional people that develop, utilize and maintain those systems remain integral to many organisations long-term requirements.

Salary expectations remain high within this field, and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that this is achievable.

However, it’s worth noting that in many other industries the top-people get paid the top-money, and simply ‘being there’ is not good enough and does not guarantee the top-money.

We have also put forward the case that employers review recruitment for IT skills as no different to any other facet of their business, and they expect the individuals to formally demonstrate their skills and qualifications, in exactly the same way as they expect their electricians and accountants to be professionally qualified to do the work they’re employed to do.

I believe that there is considerable evidence to promote a career within the IT industry as a strong and viable option to many people within today’s economic and social climate. High salaries are definitely achievable. Yet it’s equally clear and, to be fair, common sense to expect to have to achieve a recognizable professional IT qualification to be able to clearly demonstrate one’s own ability, and at the very least the attitude that you are serious about this career path and that your prospective employer can rely on you in the commercial field.

Technology Education