Here’s where our myth-busting spree stands to date:
- We debunked “Technology is all about coding, math and science”.
- We deflated “Working in technology requires a 4-year college degree”.
- We discredited “If it’s not at Facebook or Google, it’s not a technology job”.
- And we dismantled “A tech career means being stuck at a desk”.
Now, time to destroy perhaps the most intractable of all the basic myths about technology careers:
“Money is the main benefit of a tech job.”
Many technology jobs pay well, offering salaries significantly higher than the national average of all occupations. And yes, unemployment in tech is low, and the future of tech professions looks good. Per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, the availability of IT jobs is projected to grow by 12 percent during the current 10-year period 2014-2024.
So, how could a high likelihood of economic gain deter today’s teens from becoming tomorrow’s technologists? Because money doesn’t drive everyone, that’s how.
At Creating IT Futures, we know that money is a factor in what teens want from their careers, but it’s not at the top of the list. In our Teen Views on Tech Careers survey, we learned that helping other people was of equal importance to money in what teens look for in a career.
Like scientists, mathematicians and engineers, people working in technology like to solve problems. Driven by curiosity and empathy, they use big data to alleviate homelessness, for example, or get technology in the hands of people who lack economic opportunity.
Take Lakecia Gunter, who founded the Committee on Black Excellence at her high school. Lakecia received a computer at age 11, and later she used it to lobby teachers and other leaders at her school to find alternatives to suspending struggling students. Today, Lakecia is chief of staff to the CEO of Intel Corporation, one of the largest tech companies in the world.
Our research shows, like Lakecia, many of today’s teens want their work to affect more than a bank account. They want to have a career not a job, and they want to be learning all the time. Working in a tech career has the promise of so much more than just earning a good salary. Busting the myth that high salaries are the main benefit of a tech job should be a priority if we want to attract – and retain -- the best young talent for our industry.
Next stop on our myth-mashing tour: “My kids won’t listen to me.”