Ask LH: Is Working As An IT Pro Worth It?

Ask LH: Is Working As An IT Pro Worth It?

Dear Lifehacker, With all the IT outsourcing that is happening and the pay scale in every domain dropping to all-time lows, is it advisable to stick in the IT industry at all? What should I be doing to improve my pay? Thanks, IT Bites

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Dear IT Bites,

I can’t say I totally agree with the basic premise of your question. Yes, there are jobs in IT that have all but disappeared offshore to outsourcing; yes, basic roles in support don’t pay that much. But there are also fields where the pay rises rapidly. If you have skills in (for example) big data or virtualisation, there is still plenty of demand to fill. In other areas, salaries are steady in most places. No, you won’t get massively rich — but the fact is most people won’t.

Technology is a field in which change happens rapidly. What that does mean is that long-term job security can be trickier, and you need to constantly upgrade and evolve your skills. Merely sticking in one role is unlikely to secure you pay increases (something that’s true outside of technology as well).

I can’t tell you as an individual if it’s worth sticking in an IT role. If you don’t have a passion for technology, the answer may well be ‘no’. But I do think it’s a vibrant and interesting career path.

If you want to improve your pay, it usually comes down to the most-often repeated truism for technology professionals: demonstrate your value to the business. If you can show how the technology you implement actually saves or makes money, your chances of a pay rise are much greater. Beyond that, make sure your skills and certifications are current; that will make life easier if you decide to pursue a role elsewhere in search of higher pay.


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  • Working in IT seems to be counter productive in some ways. Yo need to always be updating your skills – which costs you money and likely increase your specialisation. This in turn ensures you are putting an artificial ceiling on how far up the ladder you can go. I’ve seen it numerous times – the IT guys are too important where they are to promoted or the next step just happens to be into management but their skills are all technical so are never able to step up.

    For some this career “dead end” is exactly what they like – they can continue to do the thing they love and be paid well for it. Until their knowledge becomes obsolete that is.

    I think it’s better to ensure that your IT skills are good but that you work on your other skills to ensure you have a path that takes you beyond IT and into IT leadership. It may not be for everyone but it does ensure you’re able to continue to progress in your career.

    • I agree, I am currently at that limit of where if I continue updating my skills I will just be specialising and pushing myself to that deadend. I am looking more towards learning management so as you said progress into IT leadership rather than specialisation in one field.

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