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Top careers for great problem-solvers

By Katie Tran

Problem solving is one of the top valuable skills in the working industry. In an interview for Smart Company, Stephen Barnes – a business strategist from Byronvale Advisors – states that “everything in business is about providing a solution to a problem”. Problem solving is an important trait and in-demand skill that all employers from various industries look for. 

Why is problem-solving a good skill? 

Problem solving is a required skill for employees and all senior level roles. Providing solutions is a core ingredient to all successful business ventures. It is the skill that delivers excellent customer service, drives workplace efficiency, and births invention and innovation in the workplace. However, it not only lends itself to corporate needs – but to everyday life as well.

Problem-solving requires observance, and the keen ability to identify areas of improvement. It’s thus a trait that influences positive change, allowing you to fix elements of an environment or system that are flawed, broken, or not operating to their full capacity. 

Why is problem-solving important to employers?

Problem-solving skills are essential to any employee. Such skills highlight your resilience, quick thinking, and adaptability. Being able to move with changing trends in technology, consumer demands, and the industry landscape is essential for the growth and evolution of any business.

On a much larger scale, problem-solving also spurs opportunity for industrial creation; allowing workers to come up with bigger, better ideas that can very well change the business environment itself. Think Elon Musk, for example – his current companies (Tesla, PayPal, and SpaceX) were environmental, financial, and technological (respectively) solutions that were once deemed unattainable; yet delivered a high level of social change that have made lives easier for many.

However, problem-solving provides just as much value in everyday work tasks, highlighting other skills such as logical reasoning, independence, and of course – creativity

In Australia, natural problem solvers can optimise their skills in a myriad of high-demand career paths, four of which we’ll discuss below.

4 career options for great problem-solvers.

  1. Accountant.
  2. IT Programmer
  3. Business Analyst
  4. Data Scientist


male accountant calculating

Accountants provide financial services to businesses and individuals, related to matters such as budgeting, taxation, auditing, and cost management. You’ll be analysing, evaluating, and reporting on monetary activities (i.e. revenue and expenses of a company), and provide advice for the betterment of your clients’ financial health. 

Since saving your client of unnecessary expenses will be primary responsibility, one requires proficient problem-solving skills to mitigate as much financial cost as possible. This is an especially well-suited career for those well-skilled in maths. 

The minimum qualification for this career is diploma, though many opt for a bachelor’s degree with a major in accounting. The industry offers plenty of job prospects, predicted to experience strong growth over the next few years to 2023, and plenty of workers located all over Australia. 

2. IT Programmer.

The programming field is all about logic, with workers constantly researching on and analysing digital problems – designing and implementing computer code in response to such issues. Problem-solving skills are thus a must for this profession, as you’ll be creating, testing, and troubleshooting software in accordance to client instructions. 

Additionally, you may be required to update and build upon existing programs, along with debugging and fixing any errors that arise. You might also be advising others in their software design activities, or provide your expertise in developing proposals. 

According to Job Outlook, the future of IT programming is promising, with around 80,000 jobs likely to open in the years to 2023. Workers in this field typically hold a bachelor’s degree, but for those looking to have a feel of the industry, Upskilled offers plenty of certificate and diploma-level qualifications, such as the ICT40120 - Certificate IV in Information Technology (Programming) and the ICT50120 - Diploma of Information Technology.

3. Business Analyst

Business Analysts (also known as BA) are key players in overseeing and facilitating successful business and organisational change initiatives. They champion businesses to change and succeed by optimising business processes by examining, reviewing and improving the operations of a company or organisation.

Business Analysts help define business problems via comprehensive investigation and gathering of both technical and non-technical information. Once the business problem is clearly identified and understood, they outline the detailed requirements for a solution and ensure it is delivered in a timely manner to meet business requirements. 

In this profession, you will mostly engage on digital and business transformation projects but also play an active role on projects in various departments. 

Business Analysts must be well-skilled in analytical thinking, decision making communication skills to provide the best business solution experience possible. As a leader in your field, you may also need to brainstorm effective solutions for improving existing working business process. 

The future growth for this industry is strong, with a projected job growth of 29.6% over the next 5 years.

4. Data Scientist

Interested in the IT industry? Obsessed with searching for patterns in data and using data to make critical decisions that could help shape the future of the world?  If you consider yourself data-driven and a natural problem solver, you may find your ideal career as a data scientist professional

The world is becoming increasingly data-driven, making the data scientist role a very significant one. Data scientists examine which questions need answering and where to find the related data. They source, manage, analyse, clean, present and visualise large amounts of unstructured data to make business decisions.  Much of the job involves performing data-oriented tasks to benefit business outcomes and helping companies pinpoint areas for improvement in their day to day processes. 

Data scientists on a day to day, typically gather data insights towards a business problem and presents their analysis through data visualisations (such as scatter plots, line graphs, heat maps etc) or data storytelling. 

If this sounds like the role for you, you’re in luck – the data science domain is one of rapid growth and opportunity. The future of job growth for this industry is a promising one, with a projected job growth of 27.7% in the next 5 years, alongside a lucrative salary of $125,000 AUD. Many enter the industry without formal qualifications, though engaging in online Bootcamps or Short Courses in Data Science may prove useful. 

How can I improve my problem-solving skills at work?

Problem-solving may be an innate talent for many, but like all other skills – it’s also one that can be learned. 

One of the easiest ways to get better at problem-solving is to learn from those who exhibit it best. Welcome advice from colleagues with greater experience, and observe how they deal with common workplace problems; or those specifically connected to your role. This not only provides you with hands-on guidance, but it demonstrates your proactiveness as an employee and willingness to learn. 

Another useful method of upgrading your problem-solving skills is to use the “5 Whys” technique. This simple, yet highly effective process involves repeatedly asking yourself why a problem exists, until you arrive at the root of the problem. For example, if you were dealing with recurring unsatisfied customers, you may ask yourself why this is. It may be due to them being disappointed with your service – and you’ll ask yourself why this might be, and so on. The method requires you to ask why on at least five levels, leading you to the heart of the issue, from where you can start to take action.

Finally, recruitment agency Robert Half gives the simplest advice at all: continue tackling problems when they come, make mistakes, and learn from them. Problem-solving skills can be refined and developed over time; but only with consistent practice can you effectively improve the process. 

Ready to put your problem-solving skills to work? 

As mentioned, Upskilled offers plenty of courses that cater to the natural problem-solver, including those in Business Analyst, Information Technology, and Data Science. The best part is that they’re online, flexibly delivered to suit your personal and professional needs. Enquire today, and start training in the industry of your choice. 

Editor's note: This article was originally published in July 2019. Content has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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