When you think about the average IT pro, what comes to mind- geek, introvert, snarky? While some of these stereotypes may or may not be true, a recent Spiceworks survey suggests IT practitioners have a number of distinct characteristics and experiences in common that go far beyond superficial traits. So, who is the average IT pro?
“Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one” – Bill Gates
Spiceworks, a highly trusted online community of IT professionals, surveyed over 600 IT practitioners throughout the United States and asked questions including background, professional experience and future plans. The idea was to develop a better understanding of those working in the field of IT, and the data provides some unique insights like how most IT pros get started, education levels, salaries, stress levels, and overall happiness.
How IT Professionals Get Started
Almost a third of IT pros are enjoying a career they never planned for. As one might expect, most IT professionals intentionally pursued their careers. This includes those who studied computer science in college, attended technical boot camps or were self-taught through online training. However, 29 percent of the respondents said they began their IT careers by accident, and being considered tech-savvy was among many reasons for filling a technical role. Additional findings about “accidental IT pros” suggest women are considerably more likely to begin an accidental IT career, and 66 percent of both sexes plan to remain in technology through retirement.
Information technology is one of few professional careers that does not require a college degree. Although many organizations reserve C-level IT positions for college graduates, entry-level positions in networking, security, cloud computing, data management, and systems can be achieved with just a certification and some working experience.
The Spiceworks survey shows 30 percent of the respondents achieved their careers without a college degree. Additional findings show 82 percent of women held a college degree, while only 69 percent of men reported to have one. Out of the entire population of IT professionals with a college degree, 71 percent majored in computer science or an equivalent technical major.
Information technology careers pay very well. The demand for IT practitioners with relevant skills is extremely high, and employers are willing to pay top dollar to attract qualified talent. Check out these IT salaries reported by PayScale.
Network Administrator $37,855 – $79,377
Information Security Analyst $48,283 – $106,166
Software Engineer $57,688 – $128,412
Cloud Solutions Architect $51,823 – $205,506
The Spiceworks survey concluded that IT practitioners working in enterprise environments make 10 percent more than those working for small- and medium-sized businesses. However, a more interesting finding involved income satisfaction. Although technical jobs pay more than most professional careers, 41 percent of those surveyed feel they’re undercompensated.
While IT is a very rewarding career, it comes with a fair amount of stress. Managing and securing enterprise infrastructures is a huge responsibility, especially when it involves managing staff. In addition to the complexities of everyday operations, many IT professionals are expected to keep their certifications and skills updated while maintaining 50-60-hour work weeks. It’s quite demanding.
According to the Spiceworks survey, 83 percent of IT professionals are “somewhat stressed” while 29 percent are “stressed” to “extremely stressed.” Another interesting finding from the study shows 48 percent of IT managers felt “stressed” at work while only 21 percent of help desk technicians- entry-level employees – reported feeling “stressed.” This shows a pretty compelling correlation between stress level and career advancement.
IT professional are generally happy with their employment, especially when they’ve built strong relationships with their teammates. Like any working environment, having a group of trusted companions with common goals makes work both productive and enjoyable.
The Spiceworks survey shows more than half of IT professionals are happy with their employment. Surprisingly, entry-level employees were the happiest. This is consistent with their low stress levels as compared to administrator- and advanced-level practitioners. The survey also shows a correlation between company size and employee happiness. IT professionals working for smaller companies experienced more happiness than those in large enterprise environments.
Summing It Up
So, who is the average IT pro? Well, it seems that IT professionals are generally happy people despite the stress associated with the job. While some have planned on an IT career, nearly a third fell into it by accident. Without a doubt, the average IT pro is more than a geek you only see when your computer breaks; this person is a highly valued member of your staff and plays a critical role in the success of your organization.