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The pros and cons of a graduate job in IT

Jaymes Carr

Careers Commentator
Depictions of life as an IT professional range from the upbeat excitement of Silicon Valley to the introverted coding sprees of Mr Robot. There’s a grain of truth to both shows, because a career in IT, like a career in any other field, is full of both pros and cons. Read on to learn more about what they are.

There are a lot of good things about working in technology especially in this vibrant digital age. However, as with most things, there exists a dark side to tech. You won’t be adequately prepared to start working in this field until you know what to expect from the best it has to offer, as well as from the worst.

The Good

1. Tech is cool!

This is probably one of the most compelling reasons to pursue a career in IT. Whether you’re developing a cutting-edge mobile phone application or coding for a famous company like Facebook, there’s no denying that IT has the ‘cool’ factor down. If you’re lucky, you won’t even have to feign interest in your daily tasks, because they’ll be intrinsically fascinating. IT is a great career for people who love gadgets, technology and thinking about the future of computing.

2. It’s a fast-growing industry

According to the Australian Trade and Investments Commission, Australia’s ICT market is worth nearly A$100 billion, making it the fifth largest ICT market in the Asia-Pacific region and the 14th largest in the world.

Importantly, the industry is growing faster than Australian universities can produce new IT professionals. A recent report by Deloitte Access Economics (Australia’s Digital Pulse) estimated that demand for ICT workers in Australia will increase by 100,000 over the period to 2020. In other words, talented IT graduates will be in high demand, and can reasonably expect to find themselves in stimulating positions at organisations poised to continue growing.  

3. The pay can be great

In 2016, Seek Australia reported that the average Australian salary was $80,196. By contrast, the average salary for information and communication technology professionals was $101,273.

Even more promisingly, the average salary for graduates from mathematics, statistics and information sciences had grown by twelve per cent from the previous year, hitting $106,970. All of this means that graduates recruited into IT positions can look forward to be well remunerated for their efforts.

4. There are great perks

Top companies offer their employees excellent benefits, including free fitness classes and meals, paid sabbaticals, on-site medical care, extended maternity and paternity leave, and complete medical/dental benefits. Some other perks are just plain fun, from annual ski trips to paid leave on your birthday.

The Bad

1. Constant deadlines

The flipside of working in an industry that’s constantly growing is that IT professionals will be expected to keep up - and that means meeting constant deadlines. While this definitely contributes to the exhilarating experience of working in IT, don’t be too surprised if you occasionally find yourself staying back to finish important projects on time.

2. Gender equality has a long way to go

A 2015 report by the Australian Computer Society ('The Promise of Diversity: Gender Equality in the ICT Profession') noted some troubling trends in the ICT industry. For example, the authors observed that 'women are significantly underrepresented in the ICT profession, accounting for only 28 per cent of workers. compared to the broader workforce, where women comprise 43 per cent of all individuals in professional roles.'

Additionally, the average pay gap between male and female IT workers is approximately 20 per cent. There are encouraging signs of positive change but, for now, gender diversity and equality remains a troubling issue in the world of IT.

3. IT changes constantly

Throughout your career in IT, you’ll need to stay up to date with new technologies by attending continuing education classes, as well as by renewing your certifications or earning new, in-demand accreditations. You’ll also have to work hard to ensure the skills you already possess remain relevant and well-developed.

4. It’s a sedentary life

How unhealthy is it to sit down all day? This has proven to be a surprisingly controversial question, but the research tends towards one conclusion: sitting for long periods of time is linked with a number of health concerns, including obesity, metabolic syndrome, chest pain, and, according to some studies, an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Health concerns aside, you might find yourself frustrated by the long periods of ‘screen time’ that most IT professionals are expected to endure (or enjoy).

5. You will spend the rest of your life thinking of excuses to not fix somebody else’s computer

Unfortunately, there’s no way around this one. We can almost guarantee that, as an IT professional, everybody, from your best friend’s mum to your colleague in HR, will ask you to solve their computer problems. You can either accept this or start thinking now of plausible ways to get out of it.