IIE – What to study now for six IT careers of the future

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Countless research and reports have been conducted in recent years as to the jobs of the future, with data and data science often viewed as the most important. In a pandemic year what is deemed important as far as IT careers go may have changed.

It’s why Nola Payne, head of faculty at The Independent Institute of Education (IEE) has offered up some insight for students who may still be undecided as to what to pursue in terms of IT careers.

“Careers of the future will increasingly require people skilled and qualified in careers involving the cloud, internet of things, big data, cyber security, artificial intelligence, machine learning and augmented reality,” explains Payne.

“These fields will undoubtedly continue expanding, and alongside their growth, will need to grow their workforce. So these are excellent options for young people and Matrics still uncertain about what they would like to do with their futures. And because many existing jobs can be future-proofed by acquiring additional skills and knowledge, and adapting to move applications and systems to the cloud, those who already started on different career paths are also in a position to future-proof their careers with a little additional investment in their education,” she adds.

Looking specifically at next year, Payne has highlighted six fields of study (no particular order) for students to consider next year, some of which we have seen before, and others influenced by the changes that COVID-19 has wrought.

1. Mobile app/web developer

This falls into the category of seen before, but that does not mean to say it is unimportant, especially as the push to digital in every sphere will require a workforce skilled at building these online and mobile platforms.

“Mobile app development is one of the fastest growing disciplines as more functionality move to mobile devices. Good news for prospective students is that there is currently a big skills gap in this area, so there are many opportunities in this field, and it is also a good fit for those interested in becoming entrepreneurs,” says Payne.

Looking a bit more closely at web developers, the head of faculty notes that an increase in social media advertising has resulted in a higher demand people in this field.

“Most companies these days invest in e-commerce solutions, while all companies regardless of size, or whether they are new or old, should have their own website. To make a success in these fields, professionals require responsive web design, user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) skills,” she points out.

2. Software engineer and database administrator

While these IT careers have also been well documented in the past, Payne notes that the ever changing nature of the cloud to which they are tethered to, means that these skills will certainly be in demand for the next few decades at least.

This especially as almost all companies are looking at their digital transformation strategy.

“Both of these are existing careers, but are constantly evolving as a result of the need to adapt for operation in the cloud and on digital devices. Additionally, there is a massive and growing demand for improved security, with databases and application systems shielded from attack while being properly managed and networked,” she adds.

3. Cyber security expert

This next IT career has also been in-demand for a number of years now, but 2020 has seen a distinct rise in the number of cyber security attacks, with hackers targeting people working from home or remotely in particular.

A flexible working model is something that will exist well after the pandemic ends, so having an expert on hand in the business environment will be crucial. Cyber security is also an ever evolving landscape too.

“With hackers and bad faith actors growing in their number and their ability to sow havoc in public and private organisations across the globe, these professionals play a vital role in shielding their employers from attack. Their role is to secure websites, company data, and sensitive information in the cloud,” Payne highlights.

4. Network engineer

Very similar to software engineer and database administrator, the need for network engineers will not die any time soon. This as businesses, regardless of shape or size have computer systems tied to a network, which in turn needs to be effective managed and maintained.

“More than ever before, business is being conducted online, translating to increased job opportunities for network administrators and network managers who can help businesses securely use these technologies,” she continues.

5. Data analyst/scientist

This has quickly become the en vogue IT career of the future, but for good reason, as the wealth of data that all people and companies alike create and collect respectively needs to have value extracted from it. This is where a data analyst or scientist can come into play.

So much so that institutions such as the Explore Data Science Academy has exclusively focused on this field of study, even guaranteeing employment once a qualification is completed.

“If you enjoy mathematics, statistics and programming, and have an analytical brain, this is the career for you,” says the IEE educator.

6. 3D printing farms, robotics, AR, AI and ML

Here Payne has a looked at a handful of technologies that are being looked at with great intrigue at the moment, but are expected to grow exponentially in terms of interest and demand for skills in the not too distant future.

“These are very exciting emerging opportunities, and prospective students interested in these fields should ensure they speak to a student advisor at their higher education institution of choice to enquire about how their offering matches these career paths,” she advises.

“It is also important to ensure that the institution can show strong industry-connection and evidence of work-integrated learning that seeks to solve real-life scenarios in these fields, as theoretical foundation only will not be sufficient,” Payne concludes.

If you are still at a loss for what you should study for the next chapter of your life, these IT careers listed above are definitely a good place to begin looking.

[Image – Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash]

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.

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