If you’re considering a job in information technology, or want to progress your current IT career, you’re likely onto a lucrative gig.
Jobs in IT are often ranked some of the most in-demand in Australia — and they're also among the best paid.
So what do you need to get ahead? It’s not as simple as turning up and collecting your six-figure salary.
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First of all, you’ll need to have an idea of the specific area of IT you want to focus on — and it helps to be passionate about it. Next, it’s important to explore the qualifications and experience that your preferred area requires.
Toby Yau, IT recruitment specialist at Opus, revealed the best options for future-proofing your career, how to get ahead in the industry and why passion is just as important as experience.
Passion Over Profit
The most important thing when deciding which area of IT is best for you is to follow your interests. Don’t chase the big bucks.
“If you’re in it for the money then you’re in it for the wrong reasons because it’s too fast-paced,” according to Toby.
“People who are passionate about IT identify that there’s a problem out there that they can solve using technology.
“Startups like Airtasker and Canva have identified a need in the market and built it from there. They’ve created a solution.”
Ultimately, if your end goal is creating something that will benefit others — whether that’s as an engineer, developer, architect or something else entirely — you’re likely onto a good thing.
So which areas of IT are seeing the biggest demand and growth trends for jobs?
“There are loads of different startups working in the artificial intelligence space, in the machine learning space and in banking and finance,” Toby said.
“Security is a very specialist role. If people have got an interest in hacking, you can be an ethical hacker. You have offensive and defensive teams — you can be either side.
“If you want to go down that route there’s certainly demand out there.”
Just remember that it’s not enough to have your head around the technology — you need to be able to create solutions with that technology.
Qualifications Vs. Experience
“In terms of qualifications, degrees are very important and Australian universities are recognised extremely well,” Toby said.
However, it’s increasingly important to develop skills away from the classroom to stand out from the crowd in a competitive jobs market — and this can even count as credit towards a formal qualification.
“Introverts can work well behind a computer coding away, but that type of person needs to be able to develop soft skills of working in a team and being able to express themselves.
“We’ve moved well away from the traditional idea of ‘geeks’. That’s what’s really evolved in the IT industry. So, if you do have a passion for IT, make sure you have the soft skills to help people.”
HackerRank, Pluralsight and Codecademy are just some online platforms that help you learn and develop your skills to turn your area of passion into a career.
A huge benefit of working in the IT industry is the ability to move around into varied roles. You don’t have to stick to your plan or a strict career ladder — just make sure you keep your options open.
“What really helps people set themselves apart is being active in the IT community,” Toby advised. “There are thousands of different meetup groups that people can attend that are open to all levels.
“You get to network with people who are working directly in that space. So whether you have an interest in the cloud, AI, machine learning, data science, UX/UI, there are specific meetups that individuals can go to.
“Get advice from people in the industry. Once you develop relationships in that IT field, your name gets spread around.”
For those who decide networking isn’t for them, creating an online portfolio of projects on GitHub or Stack Overflow can be just as effective in demonstrating passion and commitment.