K-12 Students

So what exactly does an IT professional do?

Information Technology (IT) professionals are responsible for a wide variety of functions that are sometimes not easily categorized, and it’s for that reason the IT field is not well understood. In a nutshell, IT professionals are responsible for managing and organizing the information contained in the computer networks of a given organization, including external hardware components. In addition, careers can include working on a contracted basis for a small company, or as one of a large team of IT professionals carrying out various functions for a corporation. In either capacity, the field of IT offers countless possibilities and numerous career paths that can be explored.

Why choose a career in IT?

Getting started looking for your career…why would you choose IT?

  • You’ll be in demand. IT professionals are highly sought after as companies of all sizes, all industries, including nonprofits and governments, look to increase their use of technology to solve problems and grow their business. There are many jobs available and not enough candidates to fill them. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) cites the average job growth for all occupations at 11%, from 2012 to 2022. However, the BLS predicts that many IT jobs will far outshine this growth rate, with the demand for computer systems analysts estimated at 25%, the need for information security analysts expected to rise by 37% and a 22% increase in demand for software developers.
  • You’ll be paid well. IT jobs are some of the highest paid careers available!
  • You will get to work on interesting problems. IT professionals use technology to solve problems of all sizes and types. You will have opportunities to work on some of the most challenging and exciting problems facing the world today.
  • You can make an impact. IT solutions are increasingly in demand, leveraging information technology to solve some of the biggest problems facing the world today! IT professionals have the opportunity use innovation and creativity to frame how we see our future.
  • You have the opportunity to grow as a leader or individual contributor. The field is always changing, and new jobs are constantly emerging. Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, there are opportunities for both in IT!

Why is IT an important field?

More and more, the world revolves around data… Information technology professionals are needed in order to manage, analyze, and protect all that data. For example, data is:

  • Used to predict the weather
  • Diagnose problems with your car
  • Leveraged by healthcare agencies to ward off pandemics
  • Used by governments to provide assistance when natural disasters strike
  • Leveraged by financial institutes to determine your wealth

Pick a career field – every path you go down is supported by data which someone needs to manage, analyze, and secure. That means that IT professionals are in high demand…and the demand is growing!

How much does IT pay?

 

IT is an exciting career path with lots of opportunities in all industry sectors, but does it pay well? You bet!

According to 2017 self-reported data from local graduates with associate’s and bachelor’s degrees  in Northeast Wisconsin, starting salaries average $44,500 and range from $25,000 – $90,000, depending on field and degree. For individuals who have created a career in their field for about 5 years will earn on average $80,000 to $100,000+ Students graduating with degrees in high demand areas like cybersecurity and networking will often receive higher starting salaries.

 

Source: Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, 2015

What does the future hold for IT?

Click here to learn about the future of IT!

In addition to being a critical function, supporting much of what we do in our everyday lives, information technology is a career field with plenty of opportunities.

Northeast Wisconsin (Building Northeast Wisconsin IT Talent Pipeline Analysis and Recommendations)

  • With an expected 13% job growth over the next several years (as compared to expected growth for all jobs of 6.5%) the demand for IT professionals is outpacing supply.
  • Here in northeast Wisconsin, employers are expecting more than 3000 new IT positions will go unfilled by 2021.
  • Over 90% of IT students are employed or have job offers prior to graduation.

Nationally (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

  • With an expected 13% growth from 2016 to 2026, the demand for Computer and information technology occupations is growing faster than the average for all occupations.
  • In the nation we are expected to add about 546,100 new IT positions by 2026.
  • The median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations was $82,860 in May 2016, which was higher than the median annual wage for all occupations of $37,040.

What are the next steps you should take?

There are many ways to begin the path toward an IT career. Just reading the NEW IT Alliance website is a great way to start.

High school classes

As a high school student, the list below can help you understand how the classes apply to an IT career. You do not need to take all the classes listed below, and will likely taken many of them as graduation requirements. Discuss your personal strengths and interests with your guidance counselor to see what IT career might be a fit for you.

Art – 3D, 2D, digital…they all teach creativity which can help in problem-solving. They also teach dimensional thinking which can help with data analytics. If you are interested in more of a web development, marketing, or computer graphics career, even better!

Communications/English – being able to communicate your thoughts, whether in the code you’re writing or in the presentation you’re giving, is always important. As many IT jobs require good communication skills, taking these classes in high school will help you later on. Good communications skills can be the difference between a good career and a great career. These skills are highly leveraged in roles such as project management, business analyst, and any leadership position.

Music/foreign language – helps you learn syntax, loops, and other concepts which makes learning the language of IT easier. In a global workplace, speaking a foreign language helps you better understand other cultures and perspectives, as well as sets you apart from other job candidates. What about music? Well…it’s really just another language.

Math – always good to take, but don’t get caught in the stereotype that you need to be a math genius. Most IT roles rely more on logical thinking than the math itself.

Science – take as much as you can, but the specific subjects are less important. Take the ones that interest you most, and that most align with the industry you’re interested in. It’s the problem solving and critical thinking skills learned in these classes that are most important.

Computer science, IT, gaming, web design, coding, etc. – if your school offers these subjects, you should sign up. They will give you exposure to one aspect of IT. If your school does not offer coding classes, there are many online self-study options to learn programming. Check out some of the sites on our Resources page to help you get started.

College credit-granting classes – not a requirement, but many great opportunities exist for students to collect college credit while in high school. For those students who love a challenge, this can be a great way to reduce college costs later on…whether you choose a 2 year or a 4-year college program.

Camps/competitions/hackathons

Camps, competitions, and hackathons can be great ways to gain exposure to coding, cybersecurity, and many other aspects of Information Technology. In addition, they allow you to network with others students, schools, and employers. Check out our events page throughout the year to learn what opportunities that are near you.

IT Alliance job fair (NEW Connect IT!)

We encourage you to attend the annual job fair hosted by the NEW IT Alliance. This job fair will allow you to talk to regional colleges and employers to learn more about IT careers and paths of study. Some area employers also hire high school students into their IT departments as youth apprentices!

 

 

Career Fair on the Fox

The Career Fair on the Fox allows students to gain networking experience and can connect with professionals. The career fair will enable students to create their personal brand and share it with employers. The career fair also provides students with practical knowledge that they are unable to obtain from a classroom setting. The Career Fair on the Fox is a professional environment to find potential employment possibilities that are awaiting students following college.

Online resources

Check out our Resources area for links to additional information. Also, leverage and manage your information on Career Cruising  (https://public.careercruising.com/en/ ). Through Career Cruising, you have the ability to log into Inspire, or Your Future (https://foxcities.yourfuturewisconsin.com ) to connect with and learn about area companies. Both tools allow you to explore area employers’ profiles to see how your interests align with local businesses.