April 13, 2022
Information technologies are omnipresent, yet IT engineering remains a mystery to many. To most people, an IT engineer is a wizard behind the screen who makes sure computers work smoothly. To an extent, they might be right, but there is much more to the vocation than just installing a firewall and updating the OS.
It is important to differentiate between career paths because the sector is prolific and constantly changing, knowing what to expect from it is the key to becoming a fulfilled and productive IT engineer.
IT engineers may either specialize in software development, computer hardware engineering, or network engineering. Software development focuses on computer programming and smartphone apps. Computer hardware engineering involves designing physical products and ensuring networks operate properly so every employee can do their jobs without interruption. Network engineers work with computer networks (intranets and extranets) and need to be familiar with different network types (LANs, WANs, WLANs, VoIP, etc.).
IT engineers can expect high salaries and good job prospects—the vocation is in high demand and the market is expanding rapidly with even better opportunities in the future. The demand for IT engineers is expected to grow 13% from 2020 to 2030.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, software development jobs are expected to rise 22% from 2020 to 2030.
Application software developers earn $110,140, on average, and systems software developers average $115,550 annually. Hardware engineers earn about $119,560 annually, depending on their skill set. Job offers are diverse and abundant, both in public and private sectors. Software developers often work remotely, which allows them the flexibility to work from anywhere. Freelancing has become common, especially in recent years, so if you’d like to try freelance work, the flexibility might suit you.
What about downsides? Every job has some, and IT engineering is by no means an exception. Due to the specific job requirements, IT engineers might be required to work overtime whenever the need arises. Recent research has shown that, on average, IT engineers work approximately 25% more than 40 hours weekly. The work environment may be stressful, especially in large companies where there are many products and employees to support. Software developers and leading programmer positions may also require an advanced degree.
Although the IT engineer profession can be demanding, the professional challenges and salary are rewarding. So, how do you become one?
Education comes first. Although requirements vary from employer to employer, a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field is expected. There are many to choose from: IT engineering, software engineering, programming, computer science, etc. For more advanced positions, a master’s degree may be necessary.
Computer-related studies usually incorporate programming, information structures and systems, scripting languages, framework improvement and execution, and operational administration. Depending on the specific field of study, additional specializations may be available.
The tasks of an IT engineer vary greatly, depending on the company size and many other factors (predictable and unforeseen). But broadly speaking, the tasks every IT engineer is expected to perform include designing system configurations, directing system installations, enforcing system standards, designing and implementing new solutions, maximizing network performance, troubleshooting network problems, securing network systems, and configuring routing/switching equipment and hosted IP voice services.
The IT industry is always growing, and IT engineers must stay current with technical advancements and understand the industry’s needs. Excellent communication skills are absolutely essential for an IT engineer because they must communicate with staff and clients who may not understand their field of work. Securing the network and teaching an uninformed employee how to stop sending that Squid Game Game of Thrones spoiler to all their colleagues might be just the beginning. In larger companies, teamwork is essential, yet IT engineers must also be skilled individuals who can troubleshoot any issue without supervision. Also, prioritizing workload may sometimes be the most challenging part of the job.
As for career advancements, IT engineers may improve their job prospects by becoming certified in different skills. Certification options are available through software companies, product and service vendors, and professional organizations (e.g., ACM). Professional networking opportunities may arise from memberships in professional organizations, which often offer continuing education programs.
The most skilled and experienced professionals are offered high-ranking positions that often include traveling abroad (either for continuing education programs or for better career prospects). The largest IT companies outsource IT engineers from around the globe so they can provide uninterrupted service and performance with a reliable team of IT specialists who work in tandem.
Freelancing has had a positive impact on IT engineering—not only has it diversified the market, but it has also created numerous opportunities for professional advancement. Businesses can easily find IT engineers with the exact skill set they need anywhere in the world with no relocation costs, which means a better salary for IT engineers in the long run. In addition, it also makes continuing education more accessible and drives more job offers for employees. It is a win-win solution that is perfected by the day.
IT engineering is the future, simply put. With the world transforming into a global village, IT engineers should expect top job offers in diverse areas. Connecting large businesses with remote areas and developing countries is one of the biggest achievements of the interconnected world. IT engineers can seek rewarding jobs and do it on their own terms.