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Looking to establish a career in technology? Here's a rundown of what you need to know

Tech is one of the most challenging, inspiring and dynamic industries in the world. Renowned as the mecca of research and innovation, its constantly evolving landscape has paved the way for some incredible inventions — from self-driving cars to drones landing on Mars — and has made it a hotbed for talented graduates and professionals looking to reach their potential.

As we enter a new decade, this interest is only growing. Now more people than ever are interested in a career in technology. And it’s easy to see why…

Why tech? The numbers speak for themselves

Despite the 2000 dot-com crash, the past 20 years have seen the once-threatened technology sector grow two-and-a-half times faster than global GDP.

From chatbots and blockchain to multi-use rockets, technology has asserted itself on almost all other existing sectors, be it health, finance, real estate, or manufacturing. The result? The global information technology market is set to be worth $5.2 trillion by the end of 2020.

And with the enormity of the industry, comes an explosive growth in career opportunities. As of October 2018, there were nearly 2.8 million employees in the US information technology sector, and more organizations have opened their doors to new applicants ready to join the ever-growing tech tribe.

While this boom may well be down to the sheer size of the market — there are 4.4 billion active internet users all around the globe — tech companies’ adaptation to the sector has also contributed.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, tech will see a continued above-average job growth over the next eight years, as firms embrace new technology developments.

The emergence of cloud computing and artificial intelligence, and a rise in other technologies including health care IT, mobile networking, and data management means IT employment is expected to grow 12% from 2018 to 2028. Meaning 546,200 jobs will be added during this period.

In simple terms? If you’re considering a career in technology, there’s no better time than the present.

What tech roles are available and how much do they pay?

While an IT career sounds like a great idea, it can be difficult to know where to start if you don’t know what’s out there.

But rest assured, a career in technology can span a whole spectrum of interests, skills and passions — there’s quite possibly something out there for everyone. Whether you want to develop next-gen video games and apps, defend networks from impending cyber attacks, or crunch the numbers as a data scientist, the world is your oyster.

And, not only do these jobs offer fantastic prospects, but a pretty good paycheck, too. The median annual wage for technology occupations was $86,320 in May 2018 — more than double the median wage of all other jobs ($38,640).

Here are Indeed.com’s 10 most in-demand technology jobs and their average salaries:

  1. Wordpress Developer: $62,000

  2. Systems Integration Engineer: $65,000

  3. SAS Programmer: $117,000

  4. Senior Technical Lead: $122,000

  5. SAP ABAP Developer: $140,000

  6. Database Engineer: $124,000

  7. Senior Engineering Manager: $145,000

  8. Senior Architect: $132,000

  9. Field Application Engineer: $110,000

  10. Ruby on Rails Developer: $124,000

Now this list may look a little narrow (and very specialist!). But remember: just because you want a job in tech, doesn’t mean you have to work for a tech company.

Every sector you can think of needs IT professionals. Whether that’s dealing with data at Walmart, or creating a website for a new vegan cafe. So whatever field you’re most comfortable in, there’s a world of work to break into.

Who is hiring for tech roles?

Unsurprisingly, it’s the big tech firms that are always hiring new recruits — we’re talking Apple, IBM, Amazon and Microsoft. Not only are these guys raking in the revenue and continually setting the bar for tech development across the globe, but they have great employment rates.

What’s more, they can be a fantastic place to work, with free food, onsite gyms and flexible hours just some of the perks on offer. Here are the top eight tech companies to work for, according to Glassdoor’s 2020 employee survey:

  1. HubSpot

  2. DocuSign

  3. Ultimate Software

  4. Google

  5. LinkedIn

  6. MathWorks

  7. Nvidia

  8. Microsoft

However, that isn’t to say you should rule out the lesser-known names. Notice there are a few companies in there you might not have heard of? The tech industry is filled with new, fast-growing firms with extremely promising futures.

Here are the top five fastest-growing tech companies from Forbes’ Fast Tech 2020 list.

  1. LinkedIn

  2. Apple

  3. Qlik Technologies

  4. Athenahealth

  5. Equinix

While these firms are likely to offer jobs all across the country, you might have to consider relocating to boost your chances of getting hired. Once upon a time this would mean a one-way ticket to Silicon Valley, but with the industry evolving, new tech hubs are popping up across the US.

According to Compita, the top city for tech employment is Austin, Texas, while other hotspots include Raleigh, North Carolina; San Jose, California; and Seattle, Washington.

And, as we said before, tech roles are popping up in organizations from all sectors. The kind of role you apply for will totally depend on what you want to get from a career in technology. Do you want to be a little fish in a big pond with a steep learning curve and loads of perks? Then go for Google. If you want to be in control of your own workflow and have a huge impact in a short time frame, then a smaller, local organization may be for you.

What skills do you need to get into tech?

IT professionals have become some of the most in-demand members of today’s labor force.

However, a recent survey found that 86% of businesses have trouble finding tech talent. So what’s going on?

Chances are, it comes down to a lack of applicants within the field.

Myth would have it that you need to be able to build a computer from scratch, and speak code as your first language, to get into tech. But that’s just not true.

Sure, if you want to land a job as a developer then you’ll need to know your JS from your CSS. And if you’ve got your sights on a career in User Interface Design, then you’ll need to brush up on the fascinating world of user experience.

But nitty-gritty technical differences aside, the soft and transferable skills needed to succeed in a tech role are largely the same.

You’ll need great communication skills, attention to detail, a willingness to learn, dogged determination and — importantly — curiosity about the world around you.

Tech roles also tend to require intuitive problem solving, methodical thinking and working as part of a team. Granted, you’ll work alone sometimes too, but tech departments are often fun places where collaborative creativity is encouraged.

So where do you go to learn and develop these skills? You’ve got a few choices.

First, there’s the traditional approach. In the past, the best-paid tech jobs required a bachelor’s degree from a strong technical college program — a route which could cost up to $60,000 per year. Ouch.

And while this is still a great way in, it’s not the only way.

Today, e-learning is a smart alternative. There are many online courses that teach you high-demand tech skills free of charge. A good place to start is Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) OpenCourseWare system, where some 300 million people use the site’s 2,400 courses for self-learning. Other sites include FutureLearn and Code Academy. These resources will give you the credentials required to get your foot in the door, and start your journey up the tech ladder.

Need more help?

While you might be tempted to jump right in, navigating a tech career can be tricky. Your success depends on knowledge, experience and having the right connections.

Here at MentorCruise, we’ve got just that. Our team of qualified mentors are equipped with the insight and know-how you need to trail-blaze through any stage of your tech career, whether you’re just starting out or reaching for a raise.

Step up your career game plan, prepare for interviews, find that dream job and embrace a new-found confidence, as your personal mentor will listen to your doubts, provide solutions and take you to where you want to be.

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