In 2014, there were more than 22 million veterans living in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Some of these veterans are young enough to be in school still while some are old enough to be retired, but many of these vets are in their prime working years. Veterans leave the military with a unique set of skills which can help them excel in the civilian world, but not everyone knows where to start when it comes to looking for the right career path.
Information technology is a broad field that touches on everything from software and hardware, to support and executive leadership. Veterans who seek a career track after leaving the service often find that they excel in the IT field. Not only can IT be a great fit for these veterans, but also the field is ripe for growth. Here are five reasons vets seeking a new career should consider getting a degree in IT.
IT is a Quickly Growing Industry
Having the skillset to excel at a job is important, but not all industries are hiring extensively. This is not the case with IT. The IT industry is rapidly growing, which means there are many opportunities to start a career. Here are a few things which help make the IT market ripe for new hires, according to CompTIA:
- In 2015, the number IT job postings grew approximately 40 percent.
- Unemployment in the IT industry is just 2.6 percent.
- The value of the IT market is approximately $3.8 trillion, and the United States accounts for 28 percent of that value.
In addition to the growing rate of open positions, the IT field offers stability. The industry growth and increasing demand for skilled workers means IT staff generally have job security, and the opportunity to move forward on their career paths.
Not only is the IT industry experiencing rapid growth, but it is also a highly-varied industry. Veterans who decide to begin an IT career have a great deal of choices. Here are the four core U.S. IT market segments, according to CompTIA:
- Telecommunication services: 30 percent
- IT services: 25 percent
- IT hardware: 24 percent
- Software: 21 percent
Consider your areas of interest and your particular skillset when deciding which area you would like to pursue. Each sector has a wide variety of roles and calls for a wide spectrum of different skills. If you enjoy working with your hands, IT hardware could be a great fit. If you prefer to exercise your business skills, consider your options in the IT services sector.
A Degree in IT Helps You Succeed in the Industry
Going to college to earn a Diploma, associate degree or bachelor’s degree requires a lot of time and financial commitment. Earning a degree is a worthwhile investment, especially considering the fact that employers, particularly employers in a highly-technical field like IT, tend to favor candidates with some kind of degree. Those with degrees have filled the majority of the 11.6 million job openings created in the economic recovery following the Great Recession of 2008, according to CNN. 8.4 million of those jobs went to candidates with at minimum a bachelor’s degree; 3.1 million went to candidates with an associate degree or some college experience, while only 80,000 went to people with just a high school Diploma.
The unemployment rate for college graduates with a bachelor’s degree is only 3.8 percent, according to the Pew Research Center. On the other hand, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the national unemployment rate is 4.7 percent.
In addition to higher employment rates, people with a college education have a higher salary on average than people with just a high school Diploma. It is important to remember that salaries will vary widely throughout the IT field, but earning a degree could correlate with earning more in your position.
Many colleges offer military benefits and scholarships for veterans looking to go to school. Starting your career off by earning an education can help you narrow down what area of IT you want to specialize in.
IT Offers a Variety of Different Career Paths
All industries are making the move to digital technology, some faster than others. This means there are opportunities for IT careers in nearly any field you could imagine. You could work for a hospital’s IT team or build websites for a chain of bakeries. Today, nearly all businesses have websites that require specialized workers to build and maintain the IT framework.
No matter what industry you to take your IT skills to, there are a number of different career paths to consider. Here are a few of the most popular job titles in the IT space.
- Business analyst. In the IT world, business analysts serve as liaisons between clients and IT developers. The business analyst will research and put together project plans by talking to clients about their needs and then communicate this plan to IT staff. Strong business acumen is an important ability to have in this client-facing role.
- Cloud architect. Cloud architects manage every aspect of a company’s cloud computing and storage strategy. This job can touch on everything from cloud design to cloud monitoring.
- Computer scientist. If you have an affinity for research, a career path as a computer scientist may be a good fit. People in this role research and design hardware which is used across the IT industry.
- Consultant. As an IT consultant, you have the option of working independently, or for a consulting company. IT consulting can focus on nearly any area of IT, so you have the latitude to decide on what specialty best suites you. Once you know where you want to focus, your job as a consultant is to help individuals and organizations succeed in your area of expertise.
- Data modeler. As the title suggests, people in this role create data models. More and more companies are interested in this skill set as the amount and importance of data accumulated grows.
- Network engineer. Network engineers are tasked with designing and maintaining computer networks. A network’s storage and security capabilities are an important element within this role.
- Software engineer. Software engineers create the applications which run on the devices that computer scientists would create. As with many IT jobs, you can focus on any number of specific areas within software engineering– anything from video game development to the latest smartphone fitness app.
- Software tester. Software development is an incredibly complex process, and there is always the possibility of bugs or failure. The software tester’s job is to find any and all issues before software would go live.
- Systems analyst. If you want to balance business skills and technical expertise, the systems analyst role is a great option. Systems analysts need to know how identify an organization’s potential IT problems and then they will research solutions.
- Technical support. Someone working in a technical support role will be able to help fix common workplace IT problems for both software and hardware.
- Web developer. Working as a web developer requires learning a variety of web languages and using that knowledge to create web content. You have the option of being a backend developer or a frontend developer. Backend developers focus on the infrastructure of a web page, while frontend developers will focus more on the website’s design.
If you are interested in setting your course for a top leadership position, IT experts do have a place in the C-suite. More and more organizations are adding chief information officers and chief technology officers to the upper echelons of leadership.
Vets Have the Skills to Excel in IT
We have covered that IT is a good fit for veterans because of the opportunity and wealth of options, but also because vets are already equipped with certain skills which will help them succeed in the field. Here are just a few of the qualities vets have which translate well to IT.
- Leadership. Veterans who rise through the ranks in the military have exceptional leadership skills, but regardless of rank, all vets exhibit strong leadership abilities. Whether you are executing a mission or a training exercise, each member needs to be able to follow orders, help their fellow soldiers, and give orders if necessary. In the IT field, leadership is important in nearly any role. These skills help IT workers solve problems, and lead their teams and customers to the best possible solution.
- Flexibility. Conditions can change on a moment’s notice in the military. Because of this, veterans are accustomed to thinking quickly and strategically. Demonstrating this adaptability will make vets attractive to IT employers because technology is always changing, so employees in this industry need to be able to keep up.
- Organization. The IT field is a logical world with defined rules. It takes a strong set of organizational skills to not only learn those rules, but also navigate them to find or build the right solution. Members of the military live a very structured and organized life. This affinity for order and structure can be put to excellent use in the IT industry.
- Work ethic. Military veterans pride themselves on their work ethic, rightfully so. Nothing less than hard work is acceptable in the military. This dedication to putting in the work necessary will be attractive to any employer, but this kind of work ethic can be particularly useful in demanding IT roles.
Vets have another distinct advantage. The military often uses highly-advanced technology. During your years of service, you have likely be exposed to a lot of this technology. Your experience of learning to use new technology is a strong asset when it comes to seeking a job in the IT industry.
Companies Offer Resources to Help Vets Get into the IT Field
In 2011, JP Morgan Chase founded the 100,000 Jobs Mission, now the Veteran Jobs Mission. This initiative began with a group of 11 private sector companies, which rapidly grew to include more than 230 companies, according to the Veterans Job Mission website. In addition to JPMorgan Chase, the founding companies include:
- Broadridge Financial Solutions
- Cisco Systems
- Cushman and Wakefield
- Iron Mountain Incorporated
- NCR Corporation
- Universal Health Services
- Verizon Communications
Just a few of the other major Veterans Jobs Mission companies looking for IT workers include:
- American Airlines
- Express Scripts
- Halliburton MetLife
- Johnson Controls
- Wells Fargo
Many more companies within the Veteran Jobs Mission have open IT positions. The initial goal of this group was to hire 100,000 veterans by 2020. The Veterans Job Mission has already exceeded that goal with 383,882 veterans hired as of Dec. 31, 2016, according to the group’s website.
The organization itself offers veterans educational guidance, insight into government resources, and job listings from the companies involved in the effort. The companies involved offer a variety of different resources to help vets apply for open positions. For example, JPMorgan Chase funds the Veterans Career Transition Program. This program, an element of Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families, has more than 30 different IT certifications that post-9/11 veterans can earn free of charge, according to Computerworld. Another member, Hewlett-Packard, offers veterans access to its HP ExpertOne suite, a set of online training tools designed to improve IT skills.
Large companies also offer significant benefits like tuition reimbursement for their employees. If you want to earn a higher-level degree while working at the same time, there are companies which will help you do just that. Whether you are simply looking to enrich your skillset or you are actively aiming to use your education as a stepping-stone in your career, consider looking for companies which offer this benefit.
Companies in the Veteran Jobs Mission group, as well as many companies outside of the initiative, recognize the rich talent pool veterans represent when it comes to filling IT positions. If you are looking to begin a career in IT, do not hesitate to research which companies are hiring and what resources they offer. You could find the right company with the resources you need to excel in the area of IT you want to pursue.
Vista College is a great place to start building your IT career. We offer a series of courses for certifications and degrees. Veterans, as well as active military personnel and dependents, are welcome to take these courses:
- IT Diploma. Students in this IT track will learn how to repair computers, manage networks and offer technical support. Vets who earn this Diploma will be ideally positioned for a career in network administration or technical support.
- IT associate’s degree. This program features study on network structure and setup.
- Information systems security and assurance degree. This degree will prepare vets for a career as a systems security administrator or systems security analyst.
Veterans can complete these programs within two years either at one of our ground campuses or through our Online Campus. Each of the courses offers real-world, hands-on training designed to prepare you to quickly and effectively join the IT workforce. Our programs offer vets the flexibility and support they need to establish satisfying, successful careers in information technology. Feel free to reach out to us anytime to learn more about jumpstarting your career in IT.