Joining the tech workforce is easier than you might think

(StatePoint Media) -- More than 12 million people are currently employed in tech-related occupations in the U.S., either as information technology (IT) professionals or employees of technology companies. Yet employer demand for tech workers is still strong in many markets and industries, including technology, financial services, manufacturing, retail, healthcare, government and education.

Tech jobs in Champaign County are plentiful at the moment. Technology Services at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is currently accepting applications for three positions on their Managed IT Services teams. Four days ago, Revature was seeking software developers and Niemann Foods advertised an opening for a Network Administrator with a starting pay at $40K annually.

Most people assume that tech jobs require the ability to write computer or application code. Companies are looking for employees who can solve problems creatively as well as help businesses operate more efficiently and profitably.

The County of Champaign Forest Preserve in Mahomet posted an opening for an part-time IT Technician on April 1. Jeld-Wen in Rantoul recently had an opening for a Senior IT Business Operations Specialist who would support training, data and other technical needs for the company and its business partners.

Unfortunately, misperceptions about tech occupations persist. People assume that in such jobs, you’re relegated to working alone writing software code or that you need to be a math genius or have an advanced academic degree to even get your foot in the door. These misperceptions can discourage qualified candidates from exploring career options in the IT field.

"Today’s IT professional plays a leading role in virtually every business and industry, identifying innovation and technologies that can determine the future of an organization," says John McGlinchey, executive vice president for global certification with CompTIA, a nonprofit association for the IT industry. "Companies are eager to hire people who communicate effectively, are comfortable working as part of a team and are creative in identifying how to use technology to make a business more efficient and profitable."

If you don’t believe technology is a viable career choice, consider all of the things you’ve done today that are made possible by technology

In fact, 62% of executives surveyed for CompTIA’s "Workforce and Learning Trends 2020" report ranked soft skills such as relationship building, persuasion, integrity and confidence with equal importance to hard technical skills when it came to hiring for their tech workforce.

For anyone thinking about a career in tech, the best first step is to learn more about the technologies of today and tomorrow, and the occupations associated with these innovations. Many free resources are available. Here are three examples:

The Future of Tech ( is a growing library of resources on what’s new and what’s next in the world of technology. Topics such as artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, big data and the internet of things are highlighted on the site, which is designed for anyone interested in learning more about technologies that are shaping the way we live and work.

The IT Career Roadmap ( offers insights into a variety of career paths, including tech support, networking, cybersecurity, data and software and web development.

The IT Salary Calculator ( allows you to explore salary estimates for different tech occupations at different levels of expertise. The calculator includes salary data from 400 different metropolitan areas covering 85% of the U.S. population, from an IT support specialist in Portland, Maine ($52,750) to a cybersecurity analyst in Portland, Ore. ($101,530).

"If you don’t believe technology is a viable career choice, consider all of the things you’ve done today that are made possible by technology -- from the car you drive and the streaming entertainment channels you enjoy to a telehealth visit with your doctor and the ease and efficiency of online banking," says McGlinchey.

The IT field is no longer a world of pocket protectors and motherboards. With more people using more devices than ever before to stay connected to one another, industry experts say that today’s IT workforce is open for business for anyone with great curiosity, creativity, personality and versatility.