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Types of IT jobs. Plan your tech career path
- Why should you consider work in tech as your next career move?
- Is it possible without technical education? What are your chances?
- What can you do to work in IT? We will introduce a few possibilities.
- How do you find a job in tech?
Why work in tech?
We indeed live in times when unemployment in many developing countries is at its lowest – and with the rapid development of technology, the tech industry is a great example of the employee-centred market, where instead of not enough jobs, there’s not enough talent to fill them.
According to research, by 2020, the tech, media, and telecommunications (TMT) industries may be short more than 1.1 million skilled workers globally, which makes tech talent one of the most sought for in the coming years, next to business finance or manufacturing. It seems like good timing for a career move.
What if you don’t have technical education?
Although, according to the latest Developer Survey by Stack Overflow, most (62%) software developers have education in computer science, there’s a growing number of people trained in disciplines like arts and humanities breaking into the profession. With more professional coding courses appearing on the market, online and offline, people migrating for jobs or working remotely, a career change from a seemingly unrelated one is becoming a natural phenomenon.
And then, the survey I mentioned is focused on developers. But tech is not just the people who code. It’s also people who manage development teams, analyze what the market needs, design the software, test it, and then sell it to the right customers.
According to research by the global job search platform Glassdoor, 43% of jobs advertised by tech companies’ jobs are non-technical jobs.
Let’s look at some of them.
What can you do to work in IT? Types of jobs in Tech.
Software Developer / Database Specialist
There’s a bunch of different software development roles, probably too many to mention. Depending on the experience, technology, and programming language, people in software development will have different responsibilities, focus on different tech aspects, and work with different industries (and earn different salaries).
It’s enough to look at the breakdown from Stack Overflow’s developer survey:
- Full-stack developers. According to the survey, they make up over 50% of the platform users (professional developers). These are the developers that have the widest experience with both backend and frontend technologies and are comfortable working with both databases and user interfaces – and everything in between.
- Backend developers. Working on everything from the core application logic and databases to API and system integrations, they put together the pieces that make the software work. Back-end developers use different languages within their jobs (and job titles), too, like PHP, Ruby, Python, Java, and .Net to build applications, and different tools like MySQL, Oracle, and SQL Server to find, save or change data. Interestingly, according to Stack Overflow 2019 survey, Python is the leader in the “most wanted programming language” category this year.
- Mobile developers. With people essentially living in their mobiles, mobile developers have definite things to do. Mobile app developers design, build, and/or maintain mobile applications, mostly for Apple’s iOS or Android. Depending on the type of apps you work on, you will need to know various front-end and back-end technologies and frameworks, like Java, PHP, C++ or Python, or newer languages like Kotlin.
We don’t have nearly enough room in this article to describe all the job titles you can have as a software developer. Especially if you consider the steps on the corporate ladder you’re going to achieve along your career path.
If you’re breaking into the profession, you’re likely to start as a junior software developer, reflected by your title – a Junior Java Developer, a Junior Frontend Developer, or a Junior Backend Developer.
As you grow your skills and transition into a regular developer and then a senior developer, your technology stack is likely to expand too (unless you decide to go really deep on a specific technology and become a highly demanded software developer with an experience few people have).
Research shows DevOps experts are among the highest-paid tech professionals, earning as much as 30% more than mobile developers. Essentially, a DevOps engineer works with software developers, system operators (or SysOps) and other IT staff to oversee code releases, acting as a link between development, testing, and operations.
It’s no wonder the job is so highly paid – a DevOps specialist needs extensive knowledge of IT infrastructure (the name comes from development and operations). Specialists in this field come from various backgrounds, most often starting out either as system administrators or software developers.
According to Glassdoor, business analysts are among the top 10 IT jobs in the US, forming about 40% of the jobs tech companies are hiring for. This is increasingly a key job for tech companies, helping improve processes and software through analyzing data.
Business analysts bridge the gap between IT and business. They are often at the forefront of creating software for companies, analyzing requirements, developing the business logic, and creating detailed functional specifications.
Depending on the company, whether they work on the client-side or specifically in software development, IT business analyst will juggle many responsibilities. The job specification is naturally expanding, making people with great analytical skills highly demanded experts.
UX/UI Designer & Graphic Designer
The UX/UI design field is booming, with more and more companies acknowledging that a UX specialist is indispensable to create user-friendly and competitive software. Doing user research and testing, and then designing user paths within the software, UX/UI designers are really responsible for making apps usable, looking at software development from the user’s perspective.
It’s not uncommon for graphic designers to step into UX/UI design, as the job requires design skills – but it’s much more than making the software “look great”. While a standard graphic designer might focus on the branding side, the UX/UI designer will focus on usability and function. There’s also an emerging trend for cross-functional product designers – people with graphic design, design thinking skills, and user experience design skills, able to work on any level, from concept design to execution.
What’s interesting, research shows UX designers are more likely to be hired on a freelance basis than in-house, while they’re also expected to earn more than others in the creative field.
I studied accounting at high school, but thanks to my fondness for art and design, I switched my career, first in graphic design and later in UI design. Most of my knowledge in this field comes from past job experiences that helped me gain unique skills. So never mind your education path because clients do not hire you for your Photoshop skills or your ability to draw; They hire you for your knowledge. UX/UI Designer
A software tester is a popular starting point for non-tech people wanting to break into tech from other careers. They’re the quality assurance experts making sure the software works according to the requirements, often saving users from dealing with buggy software (and saving the customer service reps some angry phone calls and chats).
Depending on the type of job, you will need programming skills – but you might not have to have years of programming experience. Hence the popularity of training courses that help people learn the profession and then develop their skills as they go, often transitioning into software development roles.
Project Manager / SCRUM MASTER
As much as 97% of companies use the agile methodology for software development today. This creates a high demand for professionals like Scrum Masters and Product Owners, who work directly with the development teams.
In the Scrum methodology used by more than half of the agile teams, the project manager’s traditional role is often distributed between the role of a Scrum Master and a Product Owner.
The product owner’s role is, among others, to benchmark competitors’ products and come up with product requirements that are later translated into the actual tasks for the development teams.
A scrum master is usually a link between the product owner and the team(s), facilitating communication between people, improving processes, and filling in the gaps. People in both roles often come from a project management background but need to be well-versed (and often certified) in the scrum methodology’s details.
IT project managers can come from any background (as long as they have project management skills). But it’s not unlikely for software developers to follow their path to become project managers (or team leads), depending on what they enjoy doing most. It’s true that when managing a team, you don’t get to code yourself (not as much, at least), so when advancing along the path to IT management, it’s worth having an honest conversation with yourself first.
Marketing & Sales Department
In today’s competitive environment, software development companies and any companies with technology at the heart of their business need a high-performing marketing and sales department to reach the right customers. Depending on whether they offer software services to other companies in the B2B model, or, e.g. offer SaaS (software as a service) tools to consumers, their marketing department can include professionals in many marketing and sales-related fields.
Obviously, you don’t need hands-on programming skills to market a programming service, but the more experienced you are in the field, the more effective you can become in selling technology. That’s why, while marketers come to tech from all sorts of backgrounds, there’s always a high demand for the ones that are experienced in the field and know how to reach the right target audience.
Depending on the business model, some of the marketing & sales roles will include:
- Product Marketing Manager. Working on promo campaigns and all the marketing materials that promote the product/service and its features to potential customers. Plus, focusing on getting the right leads that sales can later turn into actual customers.
- Content Marketing Manager. Working on the inbound content marketing strategy to help people find the product or service through relevant, helpful content like blogs or ebooks.
- SEO Expert. We will work with both the marketing experts above to make sure the content on the website or blog is created in a way that makes it easy for people to find it through search engines (and that it answers their questions). Along with the marketing team, SEO experts often also create partnerships with other brands and services in the industry to reach new audiences.
- Technical Writer/UX Writer. Technical writers often work at the intersection of product, marketing, and customer service. Their job is to transfer complex technical terms into clear and useful resources and documentation like manuals, tutorials, or articles. This job requires a combination of strong writing skills (a lot of people in IT don’t have) with tech-savviness and the ability to extract information from complex technical ideas and put it into simple terms.
Similarly, a UX designer designs software with the user in mind, a UX writer designs the communication (aka words) in the software that makes it easier for people to use it.
- Sales Development Executive. Technology might be a major part of our lives, but it doesn’t mean people will go ahead and buy it. If you’re developing software for business or providing B2B tech services, you need a skilled sales team who understands the core of what you do, but first of all, knows how to get the right clients.
Okay, but how to plan IT career paths and find the first job?
Tech companies are hiring all the time, so depending on the field you’re coming from (or want to break into), there are tons of job boards for full-time employment, remote jobs, or one-off tasks that will help you gradually build your expertise in a selected field.
Things to remember?
- Get some essential training and certifications to start.
- But also, do a lot of self-learning. Actually, never stop learning. Read books, go to events, do online courses.
- Get hands-on experience whenever you can. Eventually, it’s the experience you gain along your path that might win you your ultimate dream job in tech.
- Then make sure recruiters see it! Create a portfolio, update your LinkedIn profile, start a blog – whatever it takes to win your credibility and help people find you online.
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