It’s no surprise why the demand for IT services has grown exponentially in today’s “app economy.” The industry has devoted significant resources to growing technologies in cloud computing, cybersecurity, health information technology, network administration, software administration and data analytics over the next decade. With such high demand for these services and products, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) estimates employment has grown 37 percent since 2003. In fact, IT services are projected to eclipse similar technical industries as a whole by 2020.
The industry isn’t just thriving. It’s booming.
So, if there are plenty of job openings and demand is up, why are companies finding a dearth of qualified candidates to fill some of the most lucrative positions?
This kind of growth comes with the increasing need for organizations to seek professionals that can assume top-level roles as information technology directors and project managers, even chief technology officers (CTO) and chief information officers (CIO), to manage the swelling workforce.
They need leaders. But it turns out, good leadership and solid technical skills are hard to find.
Why Senior-Level IT Positions Require More Than Technical Chops
Imagine this: As the senior project manager of an IT business, you are tasked with developing a new product for your company. But long before this product hits the market, you are responsible for developing an effective strategic plan that includes marketing, product innovation and personnel management. You must be able to analyze the societal implications of the product, assess its competitiveness in the marketplace and consider which new technologies may pose a threat or advantage to your product. All while demonstrating strong leadership and a clear vision of your efforts to company employees, stakeholders and customers.
Can you do it?
Many businesses in every economic sector are finding this scenario come to life on an almost daily basis. Most companies are hard pressed to find qualified candidates that can succeed, let alone perform, in such a high-stakes environment. And they aren’t looking to hire the most talented IT pro to fill these advanced positions.
So what does that mean for you? Someone who does happen to be the most talented IT pro and wants one of those senior positions?
It takes a balance of technical and managerial skill if you want to make it to the c-suite.
What You Can Do To Fast-Track Your Career and Advance in IT
CIO.com notes that if you aspire to advance professionally, you will need more than technical expertise and years of hard work. To make it to the top of the IT industry, candidates must be able to demonstrate strong management and leadership capabilities, along with a high level of technical knowledge. That means managing a high-performance team as an effective communicator and team player. Executives need fine-tuned problem solving and decision-making skills to handle complex business problems. All qualities that produce results for the bottom line and offer long-term success in the IT field.
IT pros that can make a successful jump from the keyboard to the boardroom may see nearly a 61 percent increase in their paychecks. In 2015, BLS data reported that the average salary for computer and information technology occupations hovered around $81,430. On the other hand, advanced management positions enjoyed an average salary of $131,600, while the top 10 percent of managers with the most in-demand skills earned more than $187,200.
Most lower-level management positions only require a bachelor’s degree and a few years of experience to be considered. But to advance further, an increasing number of organizations require senior-level management to have a graduate degree as well.
So while your technical skills may have gotten you in the door, you’ll need a different set of skills to succeed at the highest level. The question is, what are you going to do about it?
Written by Thomas Edison State University