The IT Career Path: A Dead End Or An Avenue To The Exec Suite?

IT-related jobs are set to grow through to 2016. Sounds like good news — increased demand equals more career opportunities, specialized training, and job security (and maybe higher salaries).  So, I was surprised when I read that baby boomers and gen X’s were steering Millennials away from a career in IT . Why? Their (arguably flawed) logic was that trends toward outsourcing, cost cutting, and the ever-growing emphasis placed on “getting closer to the business” are draining IT of its career opportunities.

So, what career path would you recommend for someone just starting their career? There are lots of options – sales, customer service, marketing, manufacturing, or finance. . . But are these better than a career in IT? I’ve always thought that a career in IT offers, perhaps more than others, the best potential careers path for young graduates. Here’s why:

  • Business dependence on technology will still offer a ladder to the top. Yes, many operational IT functions will become commoditized over the coming years. IT will evolve to BT, becoming a technology oriented service provider to the business. The BT organization will be highly attractive as a career option because it will have a direct impact on the business and will provide access to the corridors of power.
  • IT will take on more responsibility not less. IT has a broad view of the business. As the business becomes increasingly fragmented, more and more IT professionals will do tasks like enterprise business planning or business process redesign. So, young IT professionals will gain skills and knowledge that can be readily applied outside of IT and directly in the business.
  • The need for technical expertise. As technology becomes embedded into the business, they will still require the technical expertise needed to strategize effectively. Massively complex technology ecosystems will require IT professionals to have sound technology breadth and depth. The technical skills and knowledge required from IT professionals of yesteryear will still be as important now.

Plus, there’s no question that there are some super-hot IT careers at the moment — like security for one. But let me know what you think. Would you recommend the next generation of graduates to pursue a career in IT? Are their specific areas in IT that offers better opportunities than others?




Most people look at this question in exactly the wrong way.

In the past, many (at least half) of the jobs in I.T. were at large corporations, as were most programming and system administration jobs. So most people in the field think in terms of corporate jobs when they talk about I.T.

I would argue that corporate I.T. is a dead field, one only a fool would approach. Outsourcing and offshoring are epidemic, there's no chance of advancement, no career assistance or training, you don't own anything you create (even off the job -- read your IP agreement!), you can be prevented from getting a new job if you're fired (read that noncompete!), you can't even talk about what you've done (read the nondisclosure agreement!), and in the end you'll be worked like a dog and discarded as soon as someone cheaper comes along.

In life, the only thing you have to trade for money and security is your work. A corporate job is a poor trade indeed.

The bottom line is, computer

The bottom line is, computer science (and its little brother I.T.) is one of the best fields to study in terms of opportunity. All you have to do to be successful is stay away from corporations.

Emil CEO at

re: The IT Career Path: A Dead End Or An Avenue To The Exec Sui

Hi Sharyn, I am a regular speaker in San Francisco State University's Masters Program. One night each semester is dedicated to my IT Governance presentation - that I love delivering in an academic setting. In each of these classes (numbering around 30 students), I ask the group how many of them plan to pursue a career in IT. I rarely see a hand raised - and it breaks my heart.

I agree IT will continue to be a great career path. Yes, I admit I am biased (having worked in IT for more than 30 years). My bias aside, you raise good points as to why IT offers a solid future for those who choose that path.

I hope young folks see your post in the hope it can help stem the decline in IT's ability to attract new talent.

Steve Romero, IT Governance Evangelist

re: The IT Career Path: A Dead End Or An Avenue To The Exec Sui

Hi Sharyn,

I guess the problem I have with the IT industry (and it might be different in the US) is that employers are very reluctant to train staff up in new areas. I found that I got pidgin-holed into one area when I felt if I was given the training and opportunities I could have done so much more. As a result of this I went back to university and got a degree in a completely different area and feel that I now have a much better chance of moving up the ladder.

I think some careers really have a much clearer path. E.g. if you are a lawyer, you know that if you slog it out you will move up to become senior then to partner. I never really saw that in IT.

Personally I now find more of the periphery jobs related to IT far more interesting and with better opportunities than the hands dirty tech stuff.