Career — This is a word that defines a major part of our adult lives. Feeling good about the work one does is essential for overall happiness. Naturally, this has led to many discussions and debates about how one should build a career, what constitutes a good career, how one measure's success in a career – Is it in terms of money, position, impact? Is a career path in technology that I should pursue?
These are all questions with no right or wrong answers, and they happen to differ from one person to the next.
The important part of this journey is to realize that ultimately, it all comes down to the choices one makes, and one's career path does not magically appear in front of them.
The biggest question all this leads to is:
What constitutes a good career?
Is it finance? After all, money does make the world go round. Is technology a good career path? Or is it the pursuit of the creative arts? Before answering that, one must take time to ponder on their goals, both long-term and short-term.
When an individual has the larger picture in mind, it becomes easier to make decisions. Reaching that desired level of clarity without being pressured by the timelines of others is extremely crucial.
While the focus should remain on building a career where one achieves the maximum possible satisfaction, it is essential to remind oneself that the mindset regarding careers has undergone a sea change thanks to factors such as:
- Enhanced life expectancy leading to longer careers.
- Advancements in technology (and technology is considered a good career path, more on that later).
- People looking to retire early.
Many have moved past the traditional 9-5 routine and opted for the 2nd or 3rd shift. In this scenario, one must be extra careful in crafting their career path.
The next section of this article delves into detail about this.
Building a Career
The advice of Walt Disney to his team while they were building the Magic Kingdom holds to this day- Build the castle first.
The same is the case when setting out to build a career — You need to bring the dream, drive, and destination. These are the seeds that will grow into the tree that is your glittering career. So let us go about examining the 3D's in detail:
The Dream is the beginning of a person's story- Who does he want to become? What is his definition of success?
This dream is imperative as it shapes the rest of his story. Don't worry if your dream changes as you move along your career path. It happens to the best of us and highlights a trait that has made humans the most successful species on the planet – adaptability.
What is the one thing that will make you get out of bed and want to go to work every day for the rest of your working life?
If you have figured out the answer to this question, congratulations!! You have the drive bit figured out.
Your dream must have a destination. While it is important to enjoy the journey, the end goal gives any task a purpose and direction. You must align your destination to those principles that are dearest to you.
Now that we have the ingredients for a wholesome career in place, we shall proceed to answer the question – Is technology a good career path?
What Are the Careers in Technology?
Technology is one of the driving forces in the world today, and naturally, a career in tech promises to be exciting, albeit one that is marked with so much change that it keeps you on your toes throughout.
But if one is abreast of the trends, the ever-evolving field is also one of the most fulfilling to be employed in.
Going back to the question, "Is technology a good career path? Let us look at some of the most lucrative and in-demand careers in tech:
At the top of the list is the data scientist, a job that has been ranked by the Harvard Business Review (HBR) as the 'sexiest job of the 21st century.
With most candidates possessing Ph.D.'s or master's degrees, data scientist managers can earn up to $250,000 a year.
The presence of many SaaS platforms and other products is pushing the demand for quality software developers, and it remains a sought-after skill in the market.
Web developers are coders. Different from doing software, they build online platforms, websites, or apps. They can be frontend developers, using coding languages such as:
- Java Script
The most popular frontend professionals are:
- Front End Developer
- Front end Designer
- Web Designer
- UI/UX Designer
The backend developers use code languages like:
- Ruby on Rails
The most popular backend professions are:
- Backend developer
- Java developer
- Software developer
With the number of data records breached & the costs associated with them going up astronomically every year, information security or cybersecurity professionals are becoming highly valued members of any organization.
These generally range from system managers to CIO's or CTO's and manage an organization's technology needs. Employers prefer a bachelor's degree in computers along with an MBA for these roles.
Computer Research Science
This field requires highly qualified candidates with a Ph.D., so while the competition is intense for the few who make it, it is a gateway to a gratifying career.
Computer research scientists work on algorithms to enhance the efficiency of machines or analyze business data.
Apart from the ones listed above, computer systems analysts, sales engineers, and network administrators constantly demand and command a good salary.
With such a plethora of opportunities, one would think the answer to "is technology a good career path?" is certainly yes!
But there are a few other aspects that need to be examined before concluding.
Places to Find Jobs in Tech
Identifying companies that are the right mix of new-age and robust is important when it comes to technology.
Robustness indicates that they have been in this business to see a few downturns and adapt to change. One could be wary of new-age companies that dabble in the latest trends and don't have a service or product that offers tangible benefits.
However, some companies always make it to the "Best Workplaces in Technology” or other similar lists. Some of the notable entries are:
Common attributes that employees look for while deciding where to pursue a career in tech are:
- Compensation and employee benefits.
- A sense of pride in what they accomplish.
- A flexible work culture that allows them to take time off when necessary.
- Proud to tell others about their company.
- Higher management that is transparent.
- Well-equipped at work for higher efficiency.
Now that we know of great companies to work for, the next question is how do we get there?
What Should I Do to Start My Career in Technology?
So, you have answered the question – Is technology a good career path? Now comes the hard part- How to gain experience?
Firstly, when it comes to technology, newbie or not, one must be ready to experiment and willing to start at the bottom.
Build your skills
It is good to remind yourself at this stage that everything counts. Learning SQL to build a website using WordPress helps build on handy skills to hone on later.
Get industry certifications
Don't fret if you are without a relevant college degree. Industry certifications take only a few weeks to a couple of months to complete, especially at the entry level. These provide a foundation for your career and assure employers that you have the skills they need.
Start programming as early as possible.
The tech world has two kinds of people – Those who can code and those who cannot. The importance of learning to code cannot be stressed enough.
Apart from arming you with a valuable skillset that will keep you employable throughout your career, it opens up many more avenues of growth.
You don't have to focus on learning multiple languages. Start with one and focus on the logic of the algorithms, and you are good to go.
Apply to jobs
Firm up the theoretical part and start applying to jobs as early as possible. It is a great way to get a pulse of the relevant and in-demand skills in the market and know what is expected of you in an interview.
Take failure in your stride, and do not get demotivated by a few rejections.
Affordable Courses to Kickstart Your Career in Technology
With countless free videos, Youtube is a great starting point for learning anything new. Once you go through a few playlists of your preferred tech skill and decide to pursue it in greater detail, there is no dearth of affordable resources on the web.
There is also the option of a Coding Bootcamp. Coding Bootcamps are short and intensive training programs that help people get a job without a four-year degree.
It is important to do your research while looking for a Bootcamp taking into account factors such as:
- Mode of instruction
- Job Placements
- Payment Options
Here are a few sites and Bootcamps to help you get started.
- Data Camp
- <Academia de Código_>
- Career Foundry
How Much Do Technology Professionals Make?
One of the biggest motivators in answering the question – 'Is technology a good career path' is the money.
People with coding skills and tech know-how are some of the most well paid amongst the working population, with senior IT managers earning upwards of $100,000 a year.
They are followed by artificial intelligence (AI) engineers and information security analysts, who make over 110,000 per year. Web developers, full-stack developers, and cloud architects are next in line with yearly salaries around the $100,000 mark.
Experts in new-fangled and emerging tech such as blockchain developers and data scientists are at the top of the food chain commanding $150,000 or more every year.
Staying up to date and relevant with market trends is a must if a person wants to be amongst the highest paid professionals, and this can only be achieved by constantly upskilling.
Pursuing certifications or courses is a great way to future-proof one's career in the fast-changing world of technology.
Fastest Growing Careers in Technology
A combination of factors such as:
- The emergence of new technologies that include Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality(VR), blockchain, and more
- The increased presence of threats online like hacking, phishing attacks, fake news, and identities on social media
- The fact that every firm now is a digital or technology organization in some sense of the word
- The replacement of human labor by machines, aka automation, has caused a tremendous spurt of growth in this sector and tech jobs are a big part of more traditional companies.
Here's a list of careers currently in demand and will continue to be so in the foreseeable future.
Web development is a skill that is highly valued in the technology space. There are 2 categories of web developers: Front-end web developers and back-end web developers.
Front-end developers work on the look and feel of a website or app, whereas web architects or back-end developers handle the technical construction of the website as they manage the server-side.
There is also a third category: Full-stack web developer. This development covers both front-end and back-end development responsibilities, from the server-side to the user interface.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Machine Learning (ML) Engineer
As the world continues to make greater strides towards automation, professionals with AI/ ML skills in fields such as Natural Language Processing (NLP), economic forecasting, image recognition will continue to be in great demand.
Data is the fundamental building block of organizations today. With vast amounts of data available, enterprises are always looking for professionals who can make sense of it all and leverage it to create a groundbreaking product or service.
The primary job of data scientists is to present information in a manner that allows for easier decision-making.
Information Security Analyst
It is essential to secure all the data that enterprises have with them. Here an information security analyst plays a crucial role in preventing attacks on data.
Computer Research Scientist
Computer Research Scientists work on constantly redefining the boundaries of computing technologies. They also envisage innovative algorithms to solve problems faced by society today.
Database Administrator (DBA)
DBA's are professionals who are entrusted with all activities involved in maintaining a database environment, which is essential as all the data that firms possess are stored in several databases that are accessed frequently. DBA's work on various aspects of databases such as:
- Access Privileges
- Replication or backup
Career Path of Women in Technology
The importance of a diverse workforce that is representative of all sections of society cannot be understated. One dimension needs to be addressed while answering "Is technology a good career path?"
This report elucidates how companies with a diverse workforce have more engaged employees, hire better talent and enjoy better retention rates than companies that do not focus on diversity.
The lack of women in the tech workforce is quite staggering. While women constitute nearly half of all employed adults in the US, the number drops to 25% when considering computing and mathematical roles.
Another reason for the lack of gender diversity in the tech workforce is that fewer women pursue STEM degrees, although these numbers have increased substantially in the recent past.
Many women also face discrimination at the workplace and feel that they need to work harder to prove their worth compared to their male counterparts.
Additionally, women have also reported being underrepresented in business meetings and industry bodies.
There also exists a glaring pay gap primarily since women are engaged in low-end peripheral STEM roles. Lastly, there is a leadership vacuum when it comes to women in tech.
Though the percentage of women in IT leadership roles has grown from 21% in 2018 to 24% the following year, nearly twice the number of men feel likely to get promoted to executive roles.
Here are some ways to address the gender gap at the workplace:
- Diverse hiring pools for promotion, hiring, and board members
- Flexible working options
- Conducting Unconscious bias training for managers.
Future of Careers in Technology
While the progress of technology by leaps and bounds has enhanced our standard of living and created numerous opportunities, it has also given rise to rising income disparity, stagnant household incomes, and a lack of gainful employment.
The growth of technology is also changing the way jobs are viewed. A large number of qualified professionals are a part of the ever-growing gig economy. They prefer to work on a freelance or contract basis instead of seeking full-time employment.
There exists a yawning gap between the real-world work requirements and the courses taught in educational institutions.
Increased automation has also led to high uncertainty over many jobs. As many as 1 out of every 5 people are employed in current jobs, this number is expected to reduce with time.
Apart from staying current, employees could greatly benefit by focussing on higher cognitive skills such as writing, critical thinking, soft skills such as empathy, ability to un-learn and relearn.
They can also learn a new language, train new colleagues, and drive diversity in their organization. These, coupled with their technical skills, will give them an advantage over their peers.
The Bottom Line
A majority of the population in underdeveloped or emerging economies is still offline. Herein lies an untapped opportunity for digitization of assets, operations, and training workers in the use of digital tools. These regions could emerge as hubs of work and innovation in the future.
To put it mildly, the answer to Is technology a good career path?— is a resounding yes.
The technology path the right ingredients for a great career:
- High demand.
- Great companies to work with.
- High salaries.
- A promising and growing future from new technologies, code languages, and applications.
The youth across colleges the world over will have to arm themselves with relevant abilities and display agility in soft skills to face disruptions that will continue to be the hallmark in technology.