The technology field not only dominates the headlines, it’s also a staple in our everyday lives. From the devices we use to communicate to the appliances that run our homes and the infrastructure that powers our cities, tech powers it all. But is technology a good career path? We’ll dive into the pros and cons of working in tech and tell you whether it’s a smart decision to pursue a career in this industry.
The technology job market
When it comes to careers, the tech industry is on fire. Yes–in spite of the recent spate of layoffs that put some 70,000 employees out of work.
Those layoffs represent just a small fraction of the overall tech workforce. Many of them were more of a “correction” than a reduction, adjusting staffing back to normal levels after disproportionately rapid hiring during the pandemic. What’s more, according to a recent study by ZipRecruiter, 80% of laid-off tech workers found a new job within three months.
We’re not trying to minimize tech industry layoffs. In fact, they can be quite common, which we’ll discuss in more detail below. But we are encouraging you to take the doom-and-gloom tech headlines with a grain of salt. In the grand scheme of things, tech is one of the strongest industries we’ve ever seen in which to carve out a career, in terms of both current job openings and future job growth.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and information technology positions are projected to grow by a massive 15% over the next decade, which is double the average pace for all jobs. Salaries in tech are sky high, with a median annual wage of over $97,000–more than twice the median annual wage of all workers in the U.S.
The tech industry, like any field, has its ups and downs. Here are some of the pros and cons to think about if you’re considering a career in technology.
The pros of a career in tech
The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines information technology occupations as jobs where workers ‘create or support computer applications, systems, and networks.’ While it’s a solid umbrella definition, the tech industry goes far beyond building applications on computers.
There are designers who determine how user interfaces look and function and market analysts who research what consumers want. There are cybersecurity specialists who protect companies from scammers and hackers and sales professionals who get new tech products in the hands of people and companies.
Technology has its own microcosm of sectors operating within the field and covering every aspect of the industry. So, no matter what niche you’re interested in or what role you start out in, there are a wide array of options available to you.
For every industry, from commerce to construction, the path forward is rooted in technology. It’s not going anywhere any time soon, and neither are the jobs that come with new innovations.
While a growing number of traditional roles are being replaced by technology, there’s a strong need for a new set of workers with more technical and human-specific skills that can’t be replicated by a machine. If you need proof, just look at the persistent talent shortage that has plagued the tech industry for years.
Organizational consulting firm Korn Ferry, which has studied the shortage extensively, sums it up best: “the biggest issue isn’t that robots are taking all the jobs—it’s that there aren’t enough humans to take them.”
In other words, if you have the right skill set, you’ll enjoy your pick of engaging and lucrative positions for many years to come.
Employees in the technology sector have the unique potential to advance into some of the most progressive, impactful and high-paying jobs in the world.
You can set your sights on the boardroom or the C-suite and aim for a leadership position in a well-established company, or try your hand at entrepreneurship as the CEO of your own startup. You can wear an inventor’s hat and develop groundbreaking products or strike out on your own, using your knowledge to consult for companies you’re passionate about.
How high you climb–and the path you take to get there–is entirely up to you.
We already mentioned that tech salaries are some of the highest of any field. Here are just a few median salaries of the industry’s many well-paying jobs:
- Research scientist: $94,220
- Network architect: $158,450
- Software developer: $119,300
- InfoSec analyst: $102,600
- Database administrator: $114,459
- Systems analyst: $78,820
- Programmer: $70,250
Browse additional well paying technology jobs by using our comprehensive salary data tool!
Silicon Valley and Seattle may be world-famous tech industry hubs, but they’re far from the only places to get a job. Cities large and small all over the country have thriving technology markets, like Austin in the south, Boston in the northeast and Indianapolis in the midwest.
Tech is also one of the best sectors to work from home, with the highest portion of fully remote jobs out of any field. It’s also highly conducive to freelancing, making it possible to grow a successful career in technology from virtually anywhere in the world.
The technology industry doesn’t just deal in innovative products; it’s also on the cutting edge of contemporary ideas and workplace trends. The swift and widespread adoption of remote work is a great example.
Tech workers are typically more likely to enjoy forward-thinking company perks like unlimited time off, extended parental leave and adoption assistance. Tech companies also play a big role in advancing initiatives that make for more equitable workplaces, like diversity hiring and salary transparency.
The cons of a career in tech
Tech is prone to tumult. The industry can be heavily influenced by swings in the market (and can influence them itself), and is often at the mercy of mergers, acquisitions and even the latest social media trends. Leadership shakeups (i.e. Twitter’s ongoing Elon Musk saga) are common and can have a negative impact on morale.
Technology workers also tend to have a level of instability in their personal careers, with job hopping every few years being the norm rather than the exception. The average tenure for holding a single job has been steadily declining over the last decade, and stints as short as a year or even six months in a role aren’t uncommon.
The blink-and-you’ll-miss-it pace of the tech industry can mean its jobs come with an inherent level of stress. Workers who aren’t able or refuse to adapt may be left behind.
Some jobs and companies can be highly competitive. Policies like ‘stack ranking,’ where employees are rated against their peers as above average, average or below average, can pit colleagues against one another and contribute to a cutthroat culture.
While continuous innovation can be a positive thing, it also comes with a downside for workers. Those who want to remain at the top of their game must constantly work to keep their skills sharp, adapting to new sets of software and standards every few years.
Top online technology courses to improve your skill set
Coursera and Udemy offer a wide variety of tech courses from web development to programming to help you take the first steps in your future career. Here are a few of our favorite beginner courses:
- The Absolute Beginners Guide to Information Technology 2023
- How to Build Your First Blockchain
- Fundamentals of Information Technology
- Coding for Beginners
- Introduction to Web Development
Most in-demand tech roles
If you’re looking for strong job prospects in 2023 and beyond, you’ll have ample options in these high-demand roles:
- Software developers
- Software engineers
- Full-stack developers
- Data scientists
- Cloud architects
- Network engineers
- Network administrators
- Help desk specialist
Soft skills to succeed in tech
In addition to technical skills like programming and engineering, IT professionals also rely on a core set of soft skills. Some of the most necessary include:
- Critical thinking
- Time management
- Ability to learn quickly
All things considered, we think technology is hands-down a great choice as a career path. It offers interesting projects, high salaries and diverse career options while showing no signs of slowing down in the near or distant future.