A few weeks ago I had the opportunity speak at the commencement services of a local college. The graduating class consisted of a wide variety of individuals, some young, some old and many with a great deal of experience — there was even a 69-year-old grandmother who worked full-time and took night classes. I was amazed at the diversity and tenacity of the graduates.
As I listened to the deans present a statistical break-down of the class, I was pleased to learn that a full 14 percent of the graduates were receiving IT-related degrees with emphases in networking, security, mobile apps, and web design. That wasn’t a big surprise to me since this is the “Internet Age” and, according to “experts,” robots will soon take our jobs and enslave us all.
I've known for a while that more colleges and universities are including certifications as part of their computer science programs, but I was really surprised to learn that every one of the graduates receiving an IT related degree already had at least one certification — many of them had two or three cents, and a few had four. (Full disclosure: I’m sheepishly still working on my first one.) Although most of the certs were entry-level, like CompTIA A+ and Network+, there were even a few intermediate Oracle and Cisco certs as well.
Finally my big moment came. I gave my speech, tried to inspire the graduates, praised our future robot overlords, accepted a nifty honorary degree, mingled with a few of the IT grads, and took my leave. All in all, an enjoyable evening.
My foremost recollection of the night was just how eagerly the IT grads spoke of entering the workforce, especially those with certifications. It’s no wonder they’re eager to make their marks in IT — the industry is booming and there are whole lot of job openings (unlike what I recall awaited my bachelor’s in Sociology, but then that’s why I went to grad school).
This is a great time to enter the IT workforce. According to CompTIA’s Cyberstates 2015: The Definitive State-by-State Analysis of the U.S. Tech Industry, the likelihood of landing a job in the industry is really good. As of December 2014, the U.S. tech industry employed a whopping 6.5 million IT professionals, and accounted for more than seven percent of our overall GDP. Tech workers made up almost 11.5 percent of the total private-sector payroll. And if that ain’t enough for you, annual wages for the IT sector are more than double that of the private sector.
And if you like your neighborhood, then you can keep it. You don’t necessarily have to relocate to find work — 38 states had a net increase in tech industry employment. While California, Texas and New York employ the most IT workers, there are many excellent opportunities in states like Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Virginia and Washington.
Each tech grad also has a strong card in his or her employment deck — one or more IT certifications! Certs are particularly good to have, as 91 percent of hiring managers ask about certifications as part of their hiring criteria, while 86 percent consider holding an IT certification to be of medium or high priority when making hiring decisions.
James MacArthur, who played officer Danny Williams in the long-running television series Hawaii Five-O, claimed the show worked because of three ingredients: “Timing, chemistry, and Hawaii.” So if you’re looking to take your career to a higher level, then the time is now, the chemistry is your desire to succeed, and your Hawaii is an IT certification. Start today and it won’t be long before you’ll be saying, “Book em, Danno,” to increased opportunities and a better salary.
About the Author — Calvin Harper is an associate editor for GoCertify and a veteran of the publishing industry. Calvin can't decide between Jack Lord and Alex O'Loughlin, but when he needs "Danno" to book 'em, he'll take Scott Caan every day of the week and twice on Saturday.