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IT Jobs: In-Demand, Available to Everyone, Ripe With Opportunity

It’s increasingly hard to keep pace with today’s job market and determine what skills and pathways will lead to meaningful, sustainable careers. A Burning Glass Technologies report conducted in partnership with JFF, When Is a Job Just a Job—and When Can It Launch a Career?, analyzed nearly 4 million resumes and revealed several fields rich with “springboard jobs”—roles that offer high career advancement and income growth opportunities.

The report identifies information technology (IT) as an area where 84% of roles are springboard jobs, with around 16% of workers moving up within five years, the highest advancement rate across all four of the career areas studied, and at least 65% of IT workers remaining in their career area after five years.

To learn more about job opportunities and progression pathways within IT and how people with all backgrounds can enter this field, we talked with Burning Glass Chief Product and Analytics Officer Dan Restuccia.

Learn how to get started in information technology, a field rich with “springboard jobs” that have clear upward trajectories to high-demand, lucrative careers.

Opportunities Across Industries, Gateways to STEM Careers

Experts forecast that the need for IT professionals will continue to rapidly grow as technology continues to evolve at such incredible rates. IT jobs are in high demand particularly within non-tech sectors such as professional services, manufacturing, and financial services industries among others, and IT roles in these sectors are more accessible, making them high potential career path entry points.

“When you think about IT jobs—help desk jobs, network administrators—these are jobs that don’t cluster in big cities. Less than half of IT jobs are employed by the tech industry; every hospital has an IT staff, every manufacturing plant has an IT person, schools have IT people. These are jobs that exist in small cities and are some of the best jobs that exist in rural America. So lots of opportunity across industries, lots of opportunity across locations,” Restuccia said.

“And these are jobs that to get into should not require a bachelor’s degree. We see IT jobs as one of the really important entry points into the STEM field, into the tech workforce and ecosystem, because there is both a clear entry point, you can open a door with initial skills and then stack as you go, and you can move up through success of roles and branch within IT networking, into other tech jobs, and also into other parts of the business.”

How Do I Start an IT Career?

The report compiles key findings on what IT skills can specifically be tied to career advancement, and found that IT roles value a combination of technical skills and non-specialized skills. “While IT roles are commonly viewed as technical professions, fully one in four skills advertised in IT roles are for foundational skills such as communication and problem solving,” the report reads. Restuccia shed some light on some of the pathways that build these types of valuable soft skills.

“We see a nontrivial number of people moving from retail and customer service jobs into IT. On one hand, that doesn’t make a lot of sense, right? These are two very different jobs. One is a customer job and the other is a tech job. But when you unpack what an IT job really is, a huge part of it actually is customer service. There’s a really high degree of overlap,” Restuccia said.

“Another place where we see the blending of skills and really interesting ways in IT jobs is demand for writing. Again, on the surface it doesn’t seem like IT jobs require a lot of writing, but if you unpack it actually has a lot of pretty sophisticated writing. It has customer writing, here’s how you can fix the problem written in clear, calm, nontechnical language. Then there’s also a technical writing component, here’s why the network went down, here’s the steps I took to get it back up so that if it happens again, the next person who’s on duty at that point can follow the same recipe that I figured out and identify the solution.”

Despite the importance of soft skills, advancement within IT tends to be associated with mastery of technical skills, such as developing systems administration and networking knowledge. For instance, the report shares that to advance from a computer network support specialist to a network administrator, software engineering, systems engineering, information security, and knowledge of programming languages are the skills most associated with advancement on resumes.

Did you know? edX MicroBachelors® programs are designed to be stackable. For example, learners may choose to stack a program in professional writing with a program in IT.

A Pathway to Job-Ready Skills and Credentials

Ready to start your IT career? Explore a three-course program from WGUx, Information Technology Career Framework, that provides a foundation for launching an IT career, building knowledge of the many roles and functions of an IT department, fundamentals of networking and security concepts, and programming elements such as variables, data types, flow control, and design concepts.

MicroBachelors programs are built for undergraduate-level learners looking for flexible options, whether you are an adult learner looking to progress your career or a student whose college plans have been disrupted. Learn more about MicroBachelors programs in IT, Computer Science, Data Analysis, and Business.

“Too many people feel stuck. They enter a job and they don’t know where to go. They don’t know how to advance their career or get a better job elsewhere. It’s a really debilitating feeling. And the message that we’re giving people is go back to school, get a bachelor’s degree. If you’re a working adult, that’s a many-year experience and feels like a really big bite for people to take,” Restuccia said.

“The reality is that for the vast majority of Americans getting a bachelor’s degree puts them on a ticket to a career and moving up. The fact that the MicroBachelors programs offer the vision of a bachelor’s degree while also awarding clear, meaningful, stackable credentials along the way can be incredibly motivating for workers to go after this credential that they need.”