For more than thirty years now, the global IT sector has been growing. Rapid developments in a variety of technology fields have created whole new industries and revolutionized others. For those that became a part of the swelling ranks of IT workers, it's been a time of unprecedented career opportunities.
Still, with rapid change comes displacement. Skills that were in demand in years past are outdated in the blink of an eye. Keeping up with all of the necessary learning to stay on the cutting edge has become a job in and of itself. Today's IT workers and people now looking to begin a career in IT now need a solid strategy to future-proof their career path if they want to achieve long-term success.
The good news is that there are some IT specializations that all but guarantee an endless array of career options, and are likely to remain that way for years to come. As a primer for IT workers, both old and new, here's what they are.
It should be obvious to anyone who keeps up with the latest technology news that cybersecurity is a major headache for businesses of all kinds. Between fending off DDoS attacks, guarding systems against a wave of ransomware attacks, and keeping databases and networks secured against determined data thieves – there's enough work to occupy every single IT worker on Earth, and then some.
For that reason, training to specialize in cybersecurity is without a doubt the most sure-fire way to build an IT career with almost no limits. Even now, job openings in the field are growing at a rate that's three times the IT sector average, and businesses are clamoring to hire enough workers to keep their systems safe from harm.
All around the world, healthcare organizations are rolling out new technologies to improve their level of patient care and drive down costs. Since the sector is subject to strict regulatory requirements and data handling laws, it takes a fair amount of specialized knowledge to work with healthcare IT systems. For IT workers, it's the opportunity of a lifetime.
To specialize in this field, IT workers must seek out training in database administration, HIPAA compliance, and have a working understanding of common medical terminology. They also have to have skills in data governance and modern analytics, as one of their primary functions is to help healthcare organizations make the most effective use of the high volumes of patient data they collect and store.
Cloud Systems Engineer
The last decade has seen a profound shift in the IT world away from on-premises servers and hardware and toward the myriad cloud services that are now the backbone of most major businesses. As that shift happened, it altered the way that organizations approach their technology needs, and has created an enormous need for cloud-specific skill sets.
IT professionals with experience working with multiple cloud platforms, and particularly the major vendors like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google are positioned well in this new environment. Those that have or acquire expertise in single-sign-on and cloud security systems are even better off. Going forward, this specialty is a virtual lock to replace most traditional network administrator positions and is a great field for those workers to make a lateral shift into.
Despite the hype that has surrounded the Internet of Things (IoT) for the last few years, most of the visible advances have come in the form of consumer electronics. Things like connected thermostats, door locks, and network-connected cameras have worked their way into countless homes. Judging by the various problems these devices have experienced in the wild, there's a whole lot more work to be done.
For IT workers, this creates an opportunity. As businesses gradually introduce IoT technologies into their repertoire, they're going to need specialists who understand and integrate those devices. Furthermore, they'll need workers that can manage all of the intricacies of their deployments or they'll risk running into many of the problems that home users have already experienced. Of all of the specialties covered here, this is the one with the potential for the largest long-term growth – if the adoption curve goes the way that experts predict.
The Shape of the Future IT Workforce
For anyone who works in an IT field, or for the countless people who are poised to join them in the coming years, these four specialties should provide ample opportunities for those who seize them. Of course, with technology developing at a rapid clip, there's bound to be more that join them in the coming years. These four, though, are as close to a sure thing as anyone's likely to find in the whole technology world. The key to success though, as always, is to keep abreast of those developments and to never stop learning. With so many new things to know, that's the one part of the IT job that will never change.
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