When I think about Computer Science and IT (CSIT), I see an interesting dichotomy. On one hand, we have a budding, promising industry. On the other hand, the United States in particular and most of the world in general* are slow to react and update themselves and adjust to the demand.
Consider these tremendous upsides to careers in CSIT:
- The Best Jobs: According to U.S. News, the best two jobs in the U.S. for 2014 are software developer and computer systems analyst, respectively. The median salary for a software developer is $90,060 and this industry is expected to offer 23% more jobs by 2022. Web developer came in at 9th and information security analyst came in 11th, meaning studying CSIT opens the door to 4 of the top 11 best jobs in the US.
- Macro Industry: You have the flexibility to work in any industry if you work as a software engineer or work in IT. You can work in health care, public policy, economics, business, trading, scientific research, automotive, or just about any field under the sun as a software engineer.
- Elegant, Complicated Engineering: Virtual systems are the ultimate playground for the mind. Since software has no moving parts it can be engineered beyond anything that can exist physically.
- Always Evolving: The possibilities are infinite and constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible. As an industry, we frequently find ourselves updating and changing because we have evolved beyond what we thought was achievable and reasonable: this is a common experience for anyone who works on software that is more than about 10 years old.
- Greater Flexibility: Concepts such as working from home or working remotely aren’t completely unique to CSIT, but these options are very widely available in the CSIT industry.
On the other hand, we see a society where learning about CSIT isn’t widely available. Most of the United States public schooling system doesn’t expose kids to computer programming until college at the earliest: only 17 of the 50 United States offer computer science classes for high school credit. Many young people have decided on what they’d like to study by the time they reach college, and the undecided aren’t always likely to take courses that have a reputation for being difficult and are most commonly in the colleges of Math or Engineering. Despite the fact that we progressively rely more and more on software, many students aren’t exposed enough to it to seriously consider whether or not they’d like to pursue a career in CSIT.
In my opinion, we need to get more people to prepare for these careers. I was fortunate enough to go to a school that offered computer science classes in high school. I signed up for them partly because several people in my family worked in CSIT. I try to encourage anyone to consider a career in CSIT; obviously, it doesn’t completely match up with everyone’s interests, but I think too many people move on in life without even really being aware that this option is out there.
*Most of the data in this post will come from the USA, but I hope the reader will agree that the overall concepts are true in many countries throughout the world.
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