The combination of cloud computing, economic slowdowns, and various industry consolidation means that there is pressure on IT jobs. Companies are trying to do more with less. An information technology degree alone doesn’t guarantee a job. But advanced skills, like a computer science master’s degree or a masters of information systems, and a clear view of where the market is going are powerful career tools. According to some industry watchers, basic technological, economic, and sociological changes will be hard on purely support and administrative IT jobs:
- Outsourcing increasingly sends help desk jobs to other companies and those companies lower the cost of support by leveraging staff to provide support to multiple clients. The process actually makes many help desk jobs unnecessary, so companies eliminate them to save money.
- Cloud computing takes outsourcing to a new level. Instead of sending entire functions to other countries, companies of all sizes can get many common IT processes from vendors without having to pay for equipment, software, or support staff for them.
- Virtualization and server consolidation within enterprises reduces the number of machines that are necessary to run the software an organization needs. That, in turn, requires fewer administrators. As an example, the federal government plans to shut down 800 of its data centers over the next four years. And jobs go for good with those data centers.
- IT departments have been targets of major budget cuts. Even when departments are efficient, they still have to cut costs, and personnel becomes one of the most available ways to do so.
- As the age demographics of companies change, younger workers bring with them greater computer skills who have less need of hand holding.
So where will the jobs be? In three areas that also happen to require more skills and command higher pay:
- Developers — IT will increasingly focus on Web-based applications that will run on shared hardware, whether virtualized in-house servers or cloud infrastructure. The need to create and quickly roll out one business service after another will put developers in high demand.
- Project Managers — Business analysts and technology experts will have to oversee the software projects, ensuring that they become available in a smooth fashion to business units. These people will also have to ensure that software provides the right business benefits.
- Consultants — As businesses look not only to outsource IT functions but to get experts for just long enough to do complex jobs, consultants become an important category of worker. Many who want staff jobs will go work for the likes of IBM, HP, Amazon, Rackspace, Microsoft, and Google. Those with an entrepreneurial bent will start their own niche firms, providing deep expertise to clients that need it.
When the world changes, you have to change with it. See where you need to adapt, and you’ll do more than survive. You’ll thrive.