Convert Your Love of Technology Into a Career
You’re not the average user. While the unwashed masses struggle to differentiate their firmware from a hole in the ground, you likely learned how to use the command line back when you were still reading Dr. Seuss. In your younger years, you were probably the only reason you and your buddies ever had a LAN party that got past “Okay, we got the pizza and Mountain Dew; now what?” And every time your cousin Tony buys a new printer, you’re the one he calls to set it up.
Maybe you’d like to say you’re annoyed, but to be honest, you’ve always enjoyed this kind of stuff. That’s why you got into it in the first place. You love playing with computers, gadgets, and anything that runs on ones and zeroes, and you drool over CPUs and GPUs the way the high school jocks did over muscle cars. And your affinity for all things electronic has proven very useful (at least, for your friends and family). The problem is it’s never really made you much money.
Isn’t it about time you changed that?
For those among us who want to turn that love of tech into a dream job (and, really, who doesn’t?), what you want is within your reach. Below we list five careers where your digital passion can be put to good use. Snag the right degree, and these jobs can be yours.
IT professionals (like network admins and tech support) get a bad rap. They’re one of the few tech-based positions that serves a customer service function, and people assume that means it’s not an industry worth aspiring to. But like the pit crews at the Indy 500, companies need amazing people, like yourself, that can keep the company’s engine running, and the tires spinning. Otherwise, every time someone can’t get the projector in the conference room working will feel like the end of the world.
Despite misconceptions, working in IT is an amazing opportunity. IT professionals are in high demand, and IT is the must-have framework for all businesses—now, and in the future. You can be well paid (because without you, the company can hardly boot up their machines without tripping over an ID-ten-T error), and you’re doing what you love/excel at. There’s room for upward mobility in most organizations. And there’s an awful lot of job security and job growth—the industry is expected to grow by 12% in the next ten years (around double the national average).
What can you expect working in IT? Well, on any given day, you could easily find yourself:
- Building and maintaining hardware systems used by the company
- Installing and updating software on servers and user devices
- Maintaining the functionality of digital-based office equipment
- Monitoring/managing the usage of company devices
- Network Domain and user administration
As an IT guy (or gal), you’re pretty much a digital handyman (or woman), so expect to be trying your hand at a lot of different tasks. No one in a company is irreplaceable, but developing your skills and becoming a reliable IT professional that works well with others can only help to secure your position at work.
Ah, software developers. Where would our world be without them? From Bill Gates to Dennis Ritchie, the work that developers do literally shapes the world. The programming languages, operating systems, APIs, and apps we use everyday form the aether amidst which our entire digital universe floats.
This (alongside web development) pretty much forms the foundation that all these other careers build on. Just about everybody these days needs software developers, and it’s not the kind of job that someone can just slide into if they’re not qualified. If you don’t know how to do it, you don’t know how to do it. That means job security for the rest of us.
Information SecurityInfoSec. They’re the watchdogs, the guardsmen of cyber security; the ones trying desperately to warn the rest of us how dangerous the internet is, and how we’re not doing enough to make it safer. Some days, half the job is just trying to raise the alarm to higher-ups, and get them to pay attention to glaring vulnerabilities. It can be a tough gig that way, but it often pays better than the other career options in this list.
InfoSec is a narrow niche of a specialty that gets much broader once you’re on the inside. Most other tech professionals only have a surface-level understanding of the principles that drive this profession. Meanwhile, those on the inside frequently have wildly different fields of expertise, not unlike lawyers and doctors. Among the fields you can specialize in are:
- Network security
- Mobile security
- Application security
- And more
Be aware that the path leading to cyber security isn’t a straight line. Most people who get into the field get there through some other profession, like software development or IT. While you should expect to invest a couple years in tangent occupations to build your resume on your way to your ultimate destination, know that the payoff is worth it. The unemployment rate for cyber security was 0% in 2016, and by 2021 there’s expected to be 3.5 million unfilled positions by 2021.
Very similar in principle to software development, but very different in application (pun intended), web development is the profession that keeps the interwebs running at full tilt. Web developers, well, develop for the web. You build websites, web applications, widgets, APIs, and more. You might also find yourself building a company’s intranet, designing the digital landscape that’s used within the confines of the local network.
Web development is a respectable field with solid job security, high demand, and plenty of interesting work to keep you busy. Not all of it will be riveting and earthshaking but no job is, and hey, it sure beats asking, “Do you want fries with that?”
Database management isn’t the first thing you think of when people consider careers in tech, but oh boy, is it necessary. Databases are critical for the functioning of nearly every app and program, and unless managed properly, they can cause a lot of problems. It’s especially important these days, where companies rely on “big data” to make important decisions, and when some companies can fill whole warehouses with the hardware required to store their data.
That’s why companies need competent DBAs and DBaaS providers to help them keep things running properly. Database management is often involved in building databases from the ground up, maintaining those databases, migrating them to new systems, keeping the servers running and updated, and more. Basically, if the database touches it, you’re in charge of it.
In some ways, it’s similar to IT, but with a programming element similar to software or web development. It uses its own languages, though, so while the skills are communicable, your Java expertise won’t be. Be prepared to specialize in an area that not every CS major has a good grounding in if you want to work in this field.
The possibilities are legion, and the window of opportunity is wide open. If you’re ready to start exploring your options and finding out what a technology degree can do to brighten your future, then contact Stevens-Henager College, and start putting your passion to good use.