A Spring Break Conversation Topic With Your College Kid

Eveline Oehrlich
Vice President, Research Director
March 18, 2017

I don’t know about you, but this spring break is different in my family. My daughter, who has almost finished her first year at a liberal-arts college, came back for spring break with the big question “Mom, what major should I choose?” Of course, as an analyst in technology and — not to brag, but as a professional who has had many roles in IT (programmer, systems administrator, and computer and information systems analyst — my first initial thought was to suggest that she look into computer information systems or computer science. She has the ability; she is an excellent STEM student. So I told her that I would do some research and get back to her.

Here is what I found: According to the United States Bureau Of Labor Statistics, the employment of computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 12% from 2014 to 2024, which is faster than the average (8%) for all occupations. I quickly put together a table summarizing the majority of professions and found the following:

  • The highest-growth jobs in computer and information technology are in designing solutions and systems helping organizations to operate more efficiently and effectively (computer systems analysts), with a 21% growth rate.
  • The second-highest growth is in jobs to address specific topics, such as information security analyst (18%), computer support specialist (12%), and software developer (17%).
  • Medium growth rates are in jobs that design, build, and support specific technologies, such as computer network architects (9%) and computer systems administrators (8%).
  • Programming jobs, including computer programmers, are declining (–8%); hardware engineering jobs are growing slowly (3%).

In a world of cloud computing, Agile development approaches, development and operations (DevOps), and the internet of things, I’m sure it comes as no surprise that roles within IT are changing. One example is that of the systems administrator. 

Computer operators are already gone, and the same fate will befall present-day systems administrators (also called infrastructure and operations administrators) who myopically focus on individual components within technical silos. So, if you are suggesting this role, be aware that these systems administrators — quickly becoming systems engineers — will need to take a holistic approach, focusing on systems thinking and service delivery to ensure their value proposition for superior customer experiences. Those who evolve will do so alongside growing DevOps initiatives and enjoy a great future changing the world.

And even better, these folks can become developers. In a world where infrastructure is increasingly software-based (including containers and composable infrastructure), systems administrators must quickly acquire skill sets common among Agile DevOps professionals.

So if you need to give your college kid some advice on jobs in IT, you better do some research.

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