By Josh Olson
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
I once heard a story from the time of the Dot Com boom about young computer science majors, fresh out of college, who sat around their phones taking calls from giant conglomerates. The conglomerates and corporations would offer them six-figure salaries. And the programmers, for fun, would reply with words like, "$300,000? Frankly, I'm insulted" and then hang up with a bang, knowing that half-a-dozen more calls would come.
These may not be quite as heady times as those were. But the tech industry is still where most of the available jobs are. This becomes important as we are coming out of a Great Recession. So here are six reasons to consider getting a job in tech (even if you're not a techie).
1. Supply and demand.
The Tech industry is one of the only industries with more demand for labor than there is supply. While the unemployment rate dances between nine and ten percent and companies everywhere are figuring out how to do more work with less personnel, the tech industry is currently one of the only industries that is hiring.
2. New markets.
New markets in the tech industry are popping into existence and exploding, like the Big Bang. And, historically, new industries are where people become rich relatively easily. For instance, consider the iPhone (or Droid) app industry: every major company wants an iPhone app; they are willing to pay top dollar; and yet there are not nearly enough programmers who know Objective C (the programming language of the iPhone) to meet the demand. This means that iPhone programmers command huge salaries (see reason 1).
3. It's the bleeding edge.
Throughout history, a nation's economy has always had a cutting edge and a bleeding edge. And the bleeding edge is always the place where cash is in abundance. Formerly, it was factory industry. Today it is tech.
4. Mucho dinaro.
It pays well. During the Dot Com boom hot-shot computer science majors could command six-figure salaries. These days things are not quite as out-of-control. But if you are a good programmer and have accomplishments to show off, you can still command a six-figure salary, even if you haven't yet graduated from college (I've seen this personally).
5. What else are you going to do?
In this economy, businesses are tightening belts, cutting corners, and cutting people. They are developing new efficiency methods in order to accomplish more with fewer employees. Almost no industry is hiring. Many industries, such as education, are, in fact, constricting and laying off workers.
6. You don't have to be a techie to get into tech.
So what if tech just "isn't your thing?" Well, as a history major who is getting into the tech industry, I can say (1) that we non-techies have no choice and (2) you don't have to be a "geek" to be in tech. HTML (the stuff websites are made of) is not difficult to learn. And, if you really hate math and number-crunching and pixel-pushing is just not right for you, there are at least three major fields that you may be comfortable with: first, there's graphic design (which every website and app needs); second, there's User Experience design (UX), which is the science of designing products for the best user experience; and third, there's marketing.
Hence, it behooves one's self to wiggle one's way into the computer world. Find an area in the tech industry that interests you, such as UX design or marketing. Then pick up skills and start accomplishing things while in college. Network with people in the industry. Build a personal brand. If you do all of these things, you may get through the recession unscathed.