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4 practical ways to get started in information technology

By Michael Crump | 03 December 2017

There are many ways to finally get started in information technology, whether your aiming for a career, or looking to satisfy a personal interest. Despite the common misconception that the field is overrun with workers, there’s actually never been a better time than now to get into information technology. Beyond typical software development positions, IT workers are needed for new web technologies, to maintain legacy mainframe systems and to replace older workers who are aging out of the field.

Computers aren’t exactly new and noteworthy these days. With “get a job in information technology” having been the seemingly standard advice for apparently directionless youth for more than a decade, it would be easy to imagine that all the available positions in this field would have been filled by now. But, as occupation numbers show, this just isn't the case.

Job growth

As the field of information technology grows and changes, new positions are created and new workers are required to fill them. Take, for example, the case of software and applications programmers. Though this career has been “hot” for years, statistics from the Australian Government’s Job Outlook website suggests that this growth isn't likely to die out any time soon.

Consider the following IT statistics

analysing statistics

  • While there are jobs in many parts of Australia, New South Wales and Victoria have a large share of ICT Managers.
  • They mainly work in: Professional, Scientific and Technical Services; Information Media and Telecommunications; and Public Administration and Safety.
  • Almost all work full-time. Full-time workers, on average, work 41.0 hours per week (compared to the all jobs average of 40 hours).
  • Average earnings for full-time workers are around $2,105 per week (very high compared to the all jobs average of $1,230). Earnings tend to be lower when starting out and higher as experience grows.
  • The average age is 42 years (compared to the all jobs average of 40 years).
  • In 2016, the unemployment rate was similar to the average.

Different technology equals different opportunities

man walking towards opportunity

The statistics above reflect the continuing need for professionals who can code, test and deploy software programs and similar applications. Truth be told, that’s what most people think about when they imagine a career in IT. But as technology grows and changes, these traditional positions represent only a fraction of the different tech-based jobs available. The Australian Labour Force Report, June 2017 paints an interesting picture of employment in IT across Australia.

For example, consider how much more we’re doing online than ever before. Today, we shop, take courses and carry out other daily activities online where we once might have only had the option to do so in the real world. This means more people are needed behind-the-scenes to keep the infrastructure running smoothly. According to Peter Noblet, sales and marketing regional director at Hays:

“Rapid growth and investment in digital marketing is creating a 'digital disconnect' in which the jobs market in digital marketing technology is hungry for skilled workers. The evolution of digital marketing is set to continue over the next decade and this will have a huge impact on the skills employers need."

There are plenty of different career opportunities in IT - no matter where your specific interests lie. If you love gaming, then the Diploma Of Digital And Interactive Games (ICT50215) is a great option. If you’d like to try your hand at developing software, then the Diploma of Software Development (ICT50718) could be a great option. If you’re keen to get into design, then maybe the Diploma of Database Design and Development (ICT50515) might be something to try, as it builds on a base core of design and development competencies, and is customised for professional interests via electives covering business needs analysis, quality assurance, and project management.

Old systems require maintenance 

toolsWhile there’s growth in areas like web development and digital media, remember that old systems need to be maintained and that huge technological shifts don’t occur universally. At the same time, don’t worry that the expansion of new technologies will leave your more traditional skill sets or interests behind.

Imagine that you’re a major corporation whose business activities require the use of a mainframe computer or extensive series of in-house servers. Do you think that you can simply afford to replace your entire system, just because something new has come along?

Of course not! As a result, what you’ll find is that many companies around the world are forced to maintain these legacy systems - many of which run on old or outdated programming languages - due to the expense of upgrading. And until the finances line up to replace these systems, workers are needed to keep them up-and-running, creating well-paid jobs for employees with more traditional skills, interests and experiences.

Out with the old, in with the new...workers that is 

Finally, beyond the projected job growth and the ability to work pretty much anywhere in the country, or the world, employees with information technology degrees stand to benefit from the first wave of older employees leaving the field.

And consider women in IT. One of Skillstalk’s recent blog posts went through how the sector is growing, with gender breakdowns evening up and women now gaining better access to equal opportunity and pay in the IT sector. Check out Women at Work: Study IT Online & Shift the World in Your Direction.

Again, although information technology may seem like a relatively new occupation, consider that the first collegiate computer science degree program in the world was established at Purdue University in the United States in 1962 - more than 50 years ago! The first wave of students to have gone through similar programs in Australia in the 1960s and 1970s are now approaching retirement age, creating a number of new opportunities for upcoming students in the field.

When you think about it, the perks that come with a career in information technology - including future job growth, career opportunities, good compensation and widespread job availability - makes this a field to watch. Despite common misconceptions, it’s not too late to enter the industry. In fact, when you consider the expansion of digital technologies, the need for legacy systems to be maintained and the first wave of older employees exiting the industry, it’s arguable that there’s never been a better time to get started in information technology!

Ready to hit the ground running with an IT career?

Check out everything you need to know about the sector by having a look at Upskilled's Industry Insights pages. Here you'll find all the statistics about the industry you want to know; from wage growth to the job outlook of a profession, to gender split, age breakdowns and jobs, state-by-state. 

Have a look at Upskilled's Information Technology Industry Insight and explore your future career today. 

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