As an academic advisor or career counselor, you’ve helped dozens of high school students find their optimal academic path, balance home life and homework, and prepare for college. As you probably know, there’s an all-time high demand for IT and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)-qualified college graduates without the corresponding supply of these individuals! According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2018, the United States will have over 1.2 million job openings in STEM fields. By 2020, only 16% of college majors will be related to STEM. What can we do to correct this?
Some students who come to you, wondering, “What should I be?” will respond positively to suggestions that they pursue information technology as a career. Students who exhibit the following characteristics might be excellent future IT workers.
- Enjoy or get fairly good grades (3.0 average or higher) in math
- Talk about wanting to make a difference in the world
- Enjoy working with machines
- Have good spatial reasoning skills
- Are concerned about job security and being readily employable after college
Help them Visualize their Future
Many students might not think of a career in IT because no specific image comes to mind when they hear “information technology.” Help students narrow their focus and start exploring where in the IT world they would best fit.
The following 3 IT career pathways might help you think about guiding your students in the right direction.
Programming and Software Development (Application Development and Software Engineering)
Students who demonstrate a strength/interest in music, logic and visual intelligence might want to pursue programming and software development. Some examples of jobs in this pathway include Business Intelligence Analyst, Software Engineer and Mobile Applications Developer. People in these professions deal with the conception, creation and improvement of computer software and mobile applications.
Please note that a rigorous study of math is recommend for this pathway. By their senior year, students interested in this pathway should have completed Statistics, and preferably Precalculus.
Systems and Network Administration, Security and Systems
Systems and Network Administration IT workers deal with the installation, maintenance and upkeep of computer networks. Encourage students who are natural problem solvers, “big picture” thinkers or who like to work with their hands to pursue this pathway. Some careers in Systems and Network Administration include Information Systems Manager, Data Architect and IT Security Analyst.
Web Design/Development and Digital Communications
People involved in Web Design/Development and Digital Communications deal with how content looks on a page, how users interact with it and how best to entertain and meet user needs. Students who express a strong ability in writing, visual skills and interpersonal skills might do well with this pathway. Some possible careers in this category include a User Experience Designer and a Video Game Designer.
By giving students more details about the IT job they could have, they’ll hopefully be more eager and interested to pursue this much-needed career. Encourage them to peruse this site and check out links such as IT Pathways and The Face of an IT Student to learn more about the possibilities for their future.