We were recently asked to submit an article to Achiever magazine, exploring career choices in the IT field.
Computer skills are essential for 21st Century life – we will all be either a user of computers or a creator of the software that others will use.
Software development is therefore an excellent field in which to build your career, if you have a creative and logical mind that can create software. There is a huge shortage of all levels of software development skills in South Africa, making this also one of the higher paid careers around.
Web and Mobile development skills are in particularly high demand. Businesses are increasingly realizing that they need to give their customers convenient access to their products, account management, special offers etc.
The demand is huge, but you will struggle to find university or college courses aimed at Mobile or Web development skills. So where to start?
User Interface and User Experience design is a fast growing field, suited to artistically talented people. The advertising diplomas often offer good introductions to these fields. Starting salaries can be a bit low, and youngsters are expected to work their butts off to move up the ranks! Adding some coding skills to your repertoire, such as HTML5/CSS, will open up your options to move into full Web development, and better salaries.
There are a plethora of languages in use for Web and Mobile development. It can be very difficult to know where to start. If you have good maths and logic abilities, probably go for the deep end of the skills pool by studying Java or C#. Both are in high demand by corporates, and a good developer will quickly move up in salary.
The bulk of websites are created with tools like WordPress. PHP skills will give you quick entry into the WordPress world, and there’s tons of WordPress work around. Less used by corporates, but a good option if you are an entrepreneur who would prefer to do contract jobs or build your own business.
Metrics are widely used in web and mobile sites. How many visitors come to your site, what do they click on, how do we get them to buy?
Follow a study track that includes good database skills, like SQL Server, to get into the exciting world of Business Intelligence. This career is especially suited to students who like statistics and maths. Training courses tend to come only from industry, such as Microsoft’s certification courses.
Every single IT career requires good communication skills, and individuals who can learn to work well in teams will succeed fast. Mobile development has some specific opportunities for people who can think strategically, as it is such a new technology, and the field is still very open. Think about the business disrupters, such as Uber or AirBnB, who are changing their industries through technology.
Once students have completed basic degrees or diplomas, they will need to look for internship opportunities in their chosen field. KRS is one of the software companies in the Western Cape who provide excellent internships, and a fast track into software development. Sadly, many corporates do not have the focus on software to provide good on-the-job training for graduates, but mid-to-larger software houses and some International Software companies are stepping in to help build our skills pool.
And we need more women in tech fields in general, and particularly in Software development. Women do very well in this career, as they often have better communication skills than their male counterparts, and women tend to be detail-oriented, a must for a highly technical career. The male dominated image that IT has developed in the last 2 decades must be addressed by encouraging our girls to get into coding at a school level. Many organizations offer wonderful Robotics courses for kids, which is a fun way to learn to code from a young age!
Software development is the career for the future, and there are many specializations available to suit different skills. It’s always a win when you can do interesting, satisfying work and be paid well for it. That’s IT!