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January 24, 2017

Busting 7 Myths about Technology Careers – Part 1

BustTheTechMythsBy Charles Eaton

In my last post, I argued that today’s teens should become tomorrow’s technologists and close the tech skills gap for us. What stands in their way? Seven basic myths about technology careers. So, in the next few installments, let’s bust them one by one, starting with the biggest one of all:

“Technology is all about coding, math and science”

  • Coding: Tech entrepreneur success stories in the news always seem to revolve around software and coding. True, starting salaries for web and software developers are relatively high, and organizations such as Code.org and the Obama administration’s “Computer Science For All” initiative have done a lot to advance the cause of computer science among our nation’s youth. That’s all great and surely will inspire more teens to consider tech careers. But these movements could discourage a lot of kids, too, for whom coding is neither easy, accessible or interesting. Reality is, as more businesses and households connect more devices to the internet, more data will be gathered, which will need to protected and understood. We will need more technicians, network specialists, cybersecurity pros and data analysts to handle these tasks. Plus, we will need sales and marketing pros to match all these technologists with the consumers and businesses who will need their services. And of course, we will need project managers and other expert technologists to direct and implement these transactions and relationships.
  • Math and Science: Resourcefulness and common sense are greater predictors of success in a technology career than excelling in math and science. Communication skills such as active listening and the ability to articulate and present new ideas are essential for technologists. We refer to these as “soft skills,” although that term certainly doesn’t do justice to the importance of skills such as empathy and an entrepreneurial mindset. True, good grades are important for anyone working toward any future career because they demonstrate the ability to learn and develop. And yes, solid grades in math and science certainly won’t hurt any aspiring student’s chances of finding a future position in technology. But for technologists, grades only tell part of the story. Curiosity and motivation are more important than an impressive report card. The outlook for young people who earn respectable marks – Bs or Cs in most classes – is bright, if they can demonstrate the potential for solving problems in the real world.
Access to tech classes in school at any level should not be dependent on how well a student scores in math and/or science. Every high school should offer opportunities to learn and work with technology that are broader than a computer science curriculum. Why? Because there still are more jobs in tech infrastructure (hardware, networks, servers, desktops) than in coding. In fact, CompTIA’s Market Research shows that tech infrastructure positions make up 59 percent of the U.S. IT workforce.

Next on my myth hit list: “Working in technology requires a 4-year college degree.”