New year, new job? For a historic number of Americans, the answer is “I hope so,” maybe spoken with a tone of exhaustion.
The question of jobs in 2021 still haunts the American economy from 2020’s unprecedented challenges. In April 2020, American unemployment peaked at an unprecedented level since tracking began in 1948, with almost 15% of people unemployed. By the end of 2020, this had lowered to near 7%, but still left 5 million more people unemployed than in February 2020. At the same time, the number of long-term unemployed who have been jobless for 27 weeks or more increased by over 390,000 to 3.9 million. That means of the individuals still unemployed, almost 40% have been unemployed in the long-term.
Who is hit the hardest in this situation? Industries like hospitality, retail, and government employment have been some of those with the highest job loss. And, those seeking jobs without college degrees have also been disproportionately affected. Teenagers who were working before the pandemic are still facing 14% unemployment, while those with no college education are 9% unemployed. Many who have been able to gain work are only employed part-time while they would prefer full-time.
One classic definition of insanity is to attempt the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. If you’ve been trapped in a cycle of unemployment or underemployment, the solution might be to take action on your own and consider a career change. And in 2021, there’s no better industry to start looking for a new job than in tech. Here’s what you need to know about why this sector is full of opportunity, and insight into career paths that could be right for you.
Is Tech a Good Career Path? The Skills Gap Explored
There’s a skills gap in the workforce, and it doesn’t just apply to tech and IT fields. A critical lack of certain skills in the population means that individuals are having a harder time finding gainful employment, while employers are more challenged to find the right fit for their roles.
What skills are falling into the gap? Both soft skills and hard skills are getting increasingly hard to come by, according to employment industry experts at LinkedIn. The soft skills that are in most demand by employers include:
- Critical thinking and problem-solving
- Adaptability and flexibility
- Innovation and creativity
59% of hiring managers say that soft skills aren’t just hard to find but actually limiting their productivity. You might look at this list and think these are born traits. But these are skills that can be taught and developed, especially with a commitment from both trainers and employees. And now is the time to start learning and growing these skills among others, because the employment landscape is on the verge of a change.
By 2022, it’s expected that artificial intelligence and automation will displace 75 million jobs around the world—and create 133 million new ones. But the jobs that are created won’t use the same skill set and talents as the ones that are automated. As repetitive or dangerous jobs like fast food service, construction, and trucking are impacted by digital transformation, workers in those industries and others will need additional education to skill up and remain in the workforce.
This is where we come to the question of whether or not tech itself is a good career path. The short answer is yes, but the long answer reveals that the option of a career without tech is quickly fading. According to Brookings in 2019, 100 million American jobs required significant digital skills, with two-thirds of the jobs created in the last decade included. Most of these positions are outside the technology sector itself. Jobs in industries like supply chain, marketing, healthcare, education, customer service, finance and human resources are now also technical, leading to another question—will every career eventually be a career in tech?
It’s certainly true that every industry relies on business software of some kind, and that individuals who know the necessary software have a leg up on those who don’t. Plus, using business software often requires at least moderate technical skill, far beyond using simple services like media streaming or the Internet. Adapting to business software and carrying out self-directed problem solving is where those soft skills from earlier come back into play.
Within tech itself, there are also hidden skills gaps. For instance, while there isn’t a shortage of C++ or Fortran coders, skilled .NET developers are much harder to come by. Cybersecurity is another massive skills shortage, one that could have dire consequences for every industry. That’s why at Eleven Fifty we’ve developed targeted bootcamps around skills like .NET and cybersecurity. With just a few months of hard work and collaboration, we see graduates develop both the technical and soft skills they need to excel in this unique economic environment.
Highest Paying Tech Jobs of 2020
But the questions of job availability and job security aren’t the only factor that defines our notion of a good career. Salary enters the equation as well, especially for career changers who have a certain set of expenses they need to cover. Let’s cut to the chase and look at the highest-paying tech jobs in the economy today.
- Full-Stack Developer: Full-stack developers handle both front-end and back-end development of software or systems from design to release. They handle not only coding and scripting, but also API development, web development, and more. This wide range of skills is one reason the average full-stack developer salary is $106,000 (Glassdoor).
- Cloud Architect: Cloud architects oversee the cloud strategy of a business, designing and monitoring how data is stored, shared, and backed up. Not only do they need a thorough knowledge of cloud architecture and platforms like AWS or Google, they also need excellent communication skills. The average salary for a cloud architect is $107,000, with many specializations and opportunities for growth (Glassdoor).
- Software Architect: Software architects are responsible for listening to the goals and requirements of the customer, then developing and fine-tuning prototypes the rest of the team can follow. These professionals don’t just make design choices, but also determine which coding language, platforms, and processes will be used to create the software. The average yearly salary of a Software Architect starts at $114,000 (Glassdoor).
- Internet of Things (IoT) Solutions Architect: An IoT Solutions Architect is a leader on their team, overseeing the strategy and creation of smart devices. This means they must understand both hardware and software, as well as machine learning. They also need critical thinking skills to translate the needs of a business or industry into a solution. An average salary of $130,000 compensates these professionals highly for their work (Glassdoor).
- DevOps Engineer: DevOps engineers help teams balance needs throughout the software development and release lifecycle. They might help with coding, the cloud, maintenance, and updates—whatever is needed to protect and support the users of the software. This essential flexibility is reflected in the high average salary for a DevOps engineer, $140,000 (Glassdoor).
- Big Data Engineer: Big Data Engineers help organizations mine and visualize the data they have collected about customers, clients, or employees. This means they need programming skills and data visualization skills, as well as excellent soft skills to communicate with stakeholders across the business. With 97% of businesses investing in Big Data, it’s no surprise the average salary of a Big Data Engineer is $140,000 (Glassdoor).
- Data Scientist: Data Scientists use the data provided by professionals like a Data Engineer to help a business make better, timelier, and more strategic decisions. These professionals must understand programming, data modeling, and machine learning, plus possess the analytical thinking skills to provide solutions to business issues. Yearly salaries can easily reach $150,000 or more for data scientists since there has been a 344% increase in demand for data scientists since 2013 (Glassdoor).
If you’re wondering about the best tech jobs for the future of your career, setting a goal to achieve any of these positions is an excellent start. As the highest paying jobs in tech, these salaries won’t be your starting wage at the entry-level. But the good news is, the responsibilities at the entry level will also be simpler. The technical requirements, business understanding, and communication skills required of advanced, highest-paying tech roles will develop over the course of your career.
And, it’s important to mention again that these roles aren’t just job titles you’ll find at a software startup or tech company. Organizations like healthcare providers, schools, financial institutions, and even the government also need professionals with these skills and talents. The opportunities described here barely scratch the surface of the tech career an individual can create for themselves according to their tastes and interests.
Best Jobs for the Future to Start in 2021
People taking the time to start a new career want a guarantee they will enjoy the work, and that the work will be there for years to come. With that in mind, here are some of the best tech jobs for the future to consider starting in 2021, as you transform or launch your career:
- Data Scientist: If you want to break into data science, growing your core data science skills includes learning Python and SQL. Luckily, a degree isn’t always a qualifying factor, meaning you can self-teach or use a coding bootcamp to gain the skills needed to become an entry-level data scientist or engineer.
- UX Designer: User experience designers make sure the product meets user expectations, meaning they need strong capabilities in both visual design and coding. The flexible Eleven Fifty UX/UI Coding Bootcamp can equip you with needed skills to get an entry-level UX designer job in just a few months.
- Cloud Engineer: Cloud engineers must know several coding languages, including C++, Java, and Python. Skills like disaster recovery and computer networking are also important. Since there’s so much to know, a college degree in computer science has historically been preferred, but that skills gap we mentioned means employers may become more open-minded to a skilled candidate.
- Information Security Analyst: These entry-level cybersecurity professionals need analytical thinking skills, as well as knowledge of IT trends and cybersecurity methods they can use to protect a system from criminal threats. The basics of cybersecurity can be mastered through professional development like certifications or a bootcamp.
We all know that technology is always changing, meaning these careers require a commitment to lifelong learning. If you’re just starting out, you won’t be able to master all the necessary skills in 2021. However, you can get started and learn enough to get your first job. From there, additional tech industry certifications and opportunity to develop your soft skills like communication, problem-solving, and adaptability will grow your skill set in the way that is most natural and useful for you.
Getting Promoted in Tech Jobs in 2021
Professionals who are already working in tech might have set goals to get a promotion or a raise in 2021. But how do you put action behind your intention? Here are some tips for getting promoted or better-compensated as you grow your tech career.
- Read the Situation: As we mentioned earlier, it’s no secret that 2021 was a struggle for many businesses. But that doesn’t mean you should hesitate to seek advancement. If your company has been restructuring to adapt to the times, any new responsibilities you have taken on could now be compensated with a bump in pay. Just be prepared to take on those additional duties if you haven’t already, especially if your company is in a hiring freeze or has been forced to make layoffs.
- Highlight Your Personality: If you have to apply for the promotion, it’s a good strategy to put emphasis on the things about yourself that can’t be so easily taught. Technical skills can always be improved and supported, but soft skills are more challenging to develop. The presence of soft skills can make or break the success of a new leader. Make sure to explain why you, in particular, have the right disposition and mindset for the new duties.
- Self-Advocate About Success: In the same vein, you should also make sure to lay emphasis on your project-specific successes and technical talents. Remind the hiring manager and your superiors about the essential role you’ve filled as part of the team, especially since working from home. It might also help to do a little more, like volunteering to help with a presentation, joining a committee, or working on something else valuable.
- Grow Your Skills: Lastly, if you know certain aspects of your technical skills or soft skills are not in line with the requirements to move up the ladder, consider some professional development outside work. This could mean seeking a certification, taking some free courses, or taking on an online course to learn new programming languages or development environments.
Getting a promotion or a raise feels amazing, especially when it’s a recognition you are essential and valuable to a team. But it’s also important to be sure the opportunity and new responsibilities really align with what you want for your future. If you don’t want to be a manager, taking on a supervisory role doesn’t make sense, even if it comes with a higher salary. And, taking the position could compromise the success of your team. If you look around and don’t see a growth opportunity that fits your goals, have a candid conversation with your boss. By defining exactly what you want, you could find that an employer is willing to create a role for you—or that it’s time to move on.
What Jobs Will Be In-Demand In 2022?
When the World Economic Forum released its predictions about the most in-demand jobs for 2022, it was no surprise to see a majority of the roles are tech and IT roles. Let’s wrap up this guide with a list of some other opportunities we haven’t covered, but that jobseekers and career-changers should definitely know about.
- AI and Machine Learning Specialists: These professionals develop algorithms, models, and hardware that allow computers to help humans more every day.
- Digital Transformation Specialists: These professionals help organizations choose and implement the technology that will improve their business outcomes and meet their goals.
- Information Technology Services: These professionals span the gamut of IT at a business, from development to implementation to technical support.
In addition to these roles, jobs in data science and analytics, software and application development, and big data analysis and modeling are some of the other emerging jobs for 2022. Basically, whether you’re interested in creating technology, doing quality assurance, cybersecurity, or leadership and design, technology has an opportunity for you.
Re-Code Your Future with Eleven Fifty Academy
Tech careers are not that different than any other job you’ve had. Your first day at work, you didn’t know what to do and were unsure if you were being successful. But as you got more comfortable and confident, your success and fulfillment probably grew. Though there might be a steep learning curve for getting into a career in tech, the process is just the same.
There is one way to get through some of the turbulence and enter the tech field with more confidence—a coding bootcamp. We created the curriculum at Eleven Fifty with the intention of empowering a wide spectrum of learners. We make sure you acquire the basic skills and confidence about technology that aren’t taught in many schools, even four-year colleges. Whether you attend a full-time or part-time bootcamp in UX/UI, Cybersecurity, Web Development, or Software Development, you’ll leave the program with a portfolio of work to show in your job applications, and the support of our career services team to help introduce you to companies who need talent.
Get your toes wet by taking one of our free introductory courses or connect with our admissions team to talk one-on-one about your career goals and needs. We can’t wait to help you make 2021 the best year of the rest of your life.