Being a good person is almost a professional qualification. What to do to get into IT today
Amina Idigova, a career development mentor, regularly monitors trends in the hiring of IT specialists around the world. We asked Amina to translate the numbers into human language and comment on how supply and demand have changed recently. Spoiler: development is still at the top, and the statistics for juniors reflect some challenges, but with dedication and motivation you can find a job.
In this article
— To enter IT today, it is not necessary to have a technical education. An IT specialist has a set of practices, skills, abilities, and personal qualities that require regular development.
Higher education in IT: is it necessary or not?
— In IT, everyone is constantly learning and retraining. Some technologies become obsolete, others appear. Professions remain, but their essence changes rapidly. New technologies appear at the intersection of yesterday's incompatible disciplines. Priorities change faster than the depth of knowledge. For many IT areas, an academic approach to education is becoming an unaffordable luxury. More than five years ago, Google, Apple, IBM, Ernst & Young, Hilton, Bank of America, and 20 other companies stopped requiring higher education diplomas.
According to the latest Stack Overflow survey, over 60% of IT professionals learned to code by:
- Online courses;
- Forums; and
- Professional communities.
The growing availability, popularity, and quality of online educational resources and courses is helping to educate competent professionals.
Today, about 68% of professional developers have a college degree, more than 15% have never graduated from university, and 17% have completed only elementary or high school.
According to the same survey, in 2021, applicants without specialized education were able to get a developer position in an IT company in about 50% of cases.
What skills do you need to have in IT today?
— National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) annually collects and analyzes job requirements, calculates leading trends, and predicts hiring and labor market trends. It also helps convert employers' requirements into educational programs at universities and colleges, so that graduates' knowledge meets the needs of real business.
Each year, the association publishes research on the most in-demand skills that employers expect from job seekers. Ten years ago, the leading positions were occupied by technical and digital skills. In recent years, however, personal qualities and abilities have been leading the list. These include qualities such as:
- Strong problem-solving skills;
- Communication; and
- Ability to work in a team.
In other words, being a good person is almost a professional qualification. You don't need a master's degree in computer science to get into IT. Basic knowledge of IT development and applied experience can be obtained in about a year. And if you have high discipline and high motivation, you can learn the skills that you need on your own with the help of online courses.
What specialties are in demand right now?
— Not all specialties in IT are directly related to writing code. LinkedIn's global analysis of job openings for the third quarter of 2022, however, shows that the demand for development engineers in the job market has grown by more than 15% over the past 6 months, compared to the same period last year. About 57% of IT vacancies are in development: Front-End, Back-End, Mobile, Gamedev, Big Data, Embedded and much more.
Another 15% of vacancies are various types of functional or automated testing, and the trend is mainly in favor of automators.
12% of vacancies are assembly and implementation, the so-called DevOps or DevSecOps (System engineers or Build engineers).
About 5% of current vacancies are in business analysis and about 3% in data analytics.
Just under 8% of vacancies are for information design and user interfaces (UX / UI development).
This does not mean that only programmers will survive in IT. Any numbers should be considered in context and with an eye on overall trends. Current hiring data reflects a temporary trend, with project owners are switching to energy conservation mode and suspending the launch of new products as much as possible, focusing instead on the development and implementation of current functionality.
If you choose an IT profession today, entering the field as a Software Developer improves your chances. Over the past 6 months, the demand for novice specialists has fallen between 50% and 80%, depending on the country. During that same time, the number of people who want to get into the IT profession has grown between 20% and 42%.
How do juniors feel?
— In 2021, the number of vacancies for junior specialists in the global IT market averaged 20-25% of the total number of vacancies. Between 1% to 3% of those were vacancies for interns (free internship or internship for a symbolic scholarship under the supervision of a curator to gain real project experience).
Today, the total number of vacancies for beginners has decreased by 3-8%, depending on the region. At the same time, the position requirements have seriously grown and, with regard to applied experience, look almost like those for middle-specialists. The salary ranges, however, are closer to the level of interns.
Tips for starting a career in IT
— When entering the profession, it is important to take into account the changed demand. It is worth choosing a more applied and sought-after specialty, as well as pumping up your level of practical knowledge, to succeed in the competition for a real job in an IT company.
A good English level, applied experience in developing at least non-commercial projects, and a profile on GitHub will be very helpful (for GitHub, the fact that there are projects as such and the quality of the code is important).
How do you escape from the Catch 22 of: when there is no experience, there are no projects, and when there are no projects, there is no experience?
There is a set of basic recommendations that can help:
- Participate in volunteer or charity projects;
- Participate in hackathons, and work with startup accelerators and incubators;
- Work as an intern / trainee and
- Freelance or work on friend and family projects.
To learn how to write code and become a developer as quickly as possible, it is important to choose the right first programming language. The language you choose will determine the development of your career for at least the next 2-3 years, so it is better to choose one that is in demand and is on an upward trend.
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