We’ve all seen the movies where a rogue hacker breaks into the mainframe of an evil corporation but really he’s just repeatedly pressing the enter key as the computer screen flashes red buttons and warnings. Or the movies that portray IT professionals as social shut-ins who cower when the lights are turned on, like basement-dwelling vampires.
These tropes are pushed by Hollywood because they are dramatic and get a laugh, but as a result there are a lot of misconceptions about what a career in IT is really like.
It’s true that IT used to be a “basement job”. The higher-ups understood an IT department was necessary, but wanted to keep them as out of sight and out of mind as possible.
But the value of IT is changing. Modern management understands that when networks, computers and software are running at peak, output profit margin increases right along with it. Productivity is synonymous with technology in this day and age, and IT is on the forefront of how efficiently a corporation can deliver its product. As a result, IT professionals are treated much differently than they were in the 90’s.
A common misconception about IT is that you have to be a math whiz to be successful. However, that’s not always the case. IT can be a number of things, it can involve organizational skills, factual knowledge, logical reasoning, and even mechanical skills, while math itself is more specialized in its applications.
There are some fields in IT where math will matter more — such as computer science or development — however, even in those areas, many people self-report that hard math is more of a high-level matter and that lacking an extensive background in math hasn’t hindered their success.
There is a lot of fear in every industry of job outsourcing and there are many fields in IT where outsourcing is something to consider. However, an IT skillset prepares one for a great variety of jobs, and some of those simply can’t be outsourced without affecting a company’s bottom line.
Apart from the simplest problems, you can’t repair a computer over the phone. Setting up networks and Ethernet has to happen in person, and software development, while it can be performed remotely, requires a great deal of collaboration that can be lost when outsourcing. Additionally, fields like cybersecurity require the security and confidence that only an in-house IT professional can provide.
There’s no doubt a large part of your work will involve a computer, but that doesn’t mean you’ll always be working alone behind a screen. As an IT professional you’ll be working with the hardware of the computer replacing broken components for employees, maintaining routers and other devices, or even operating the software and tech at company meetings — like cameras, teleprompters and presentations. You’ll have your hands in basically every part of the company so communicating with others in the company is an integral part of the job.
Usually only larger companies will have a dedicated IT department, however this doesn’t mean that they are the only ones that need IT professionals. Smaller companies get that talent through other means.
There are a number of options available for IT professionals who don’t like the big business environment, such as IT staffing companies, working as an independent contractor, or positioning yourself as a multi-disciplinary professional.
Clearly, there are many ways to be successful in the IT field, despite what Hollywood might have you think. If you think IT might be the right career for you, consider getting your foot in the door with an online bachelor's in IT.