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Alternative non-IT Careers for Tech Workers

Estimated reading time: 2 mins

I’ve just seen an article on CIO.COM which suggests 24 alternative careers for IT professionals. The article is off the back of the belief in the disappearance of tech jobs from the US, but this is true of Canada and Western Europe also.

The article, written by Meredith Levinson, looks at the skills and experience of common IT vocations and apples some lateral thinking to their application to other roles outside of IT. For example, Meredith looks at the role of Project Managers and how their people management skills and experience might transfer to Professional Organizers, Personal Trainers or Wedding Planners. Software developers, as Meredith suggests, could change careers to Architects or Musicians because of the logical, detail-oriented nature of these jobs.

Meredith makes excellent suggestions by thinking laterally. I like lateral thinking as it challenges my brain. However, I wonder how IT professionals react to them? IT professionals invest a great deal in their skills, chosen technologies and methodologies, to the point that we are often wedded to them.  So despite the opportunities other careers might offer, I doubt that most IT professionals will pursue them on the front foot. It’s like admitting defeat without a fight. That’s how I feel, to be honest. Personal situations might need to be desperate for them to be considered. It’s fair for me to say that I would need to have significant pressure on me to look at moving industries. I think it takes a reality check to make the mental switch. Accepting the fate of IT professionals is tough. Maybe this tech-job crisis is temporary (one might think)?

If you look at the article, you’ll see some of the comments are about just that – this yet won’t be taken seriously until the crisis becomes significantly threatening to individuals. But it might be too late then.

It needn’t be doom-times ahead for IT professionals. For some, the reality is that their jobs are being moved offshore. Accepting this as the fate now (even if it doesn’t happen) will give you headroom to think about what next and plan your career-shift. I guess I will have to face this dilemma myself. It’s going to be tough, as despite my tendency towards innovation and lateral thinking, I am an IT guy and I love my industry as it is, and I want it to prosper in the Western World, as much as I do in the developing economies. If you don’t, good luck – maybe you should take up something like this and try your luck? Or maybe sit at home and fill out surveys all day to keep yourself in shoes?

The Link: http://www.cio.com/article/445164/_Alternative_Careers_for_Tech_Workers_That_Aren_t_in_IT

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Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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4 Comments

  1. Mark McClure

    Simon,

    About the same time as reading “Rising Elephant” (India’s emerging power status) I also recall some highly rated global banker saying that there was an unstoppable leveling of the playing field going on between developed and developing worlds – mostly notably in purchasing power and per-capita incomes.

    Certainly the story since the mid 80s would seems to bear this out – and well told by T. Friedman’s “The World Is Flat”.

    However, there are 3 “outlier events” that might put a spanner in this globalization phenomenon:

    1- Geopolitical / Financial System upheaval – translating to regional wars or worse.

    2- “Peak Oil” and (see #1)

    3- Climate Change

    Now I’m not a futurologist and won’t go any further than listing the wild cards above that could be played by man or nature. Time will tell.

    As far as IT Technical careers are concerned (in the developed world that I know of, UK and Japan), pure technical excellence will still be important but less so than 20 years ago (pre -Net) because of all those other “hungry Netizens with a laptop”.

    (And by hungry, I mean hungry to succeed.)

    Staying in the game even with tech + soft skills will be a tough act (cost-driven).
    Being mobile will help (but see 1,2,3 above!)

    And I’m an optimist!

    regards
    mark mcclure
    tokyo

     
  2. simonstapleton

    @Mark – fantastic comments! It will certainly be interesting to see how the levelling progresses, as I can’t see benefits of labor arbritrage lasting more than the medium term, which it isn’t by recent evidence. I guess it will come down to commoditization of jobs – if your job that was once a craft becomes a crank-turner, salary will drop, as will your enjoyment (but also stress!). So we have to keep pace with the changes and if you like ‘executive’ positions, then you need to find a job in an industry which is less mature, less defined, or artistic!

     
  3. Mark McClure Coaching

    Regarding possible career alternatives to IT, Joanne Dustin’s a career coach/consultant in the US and ex-IT executive.

    She wrote a short book on IT folks who had made the change – “Life Beyond IT”.

    Joanne’s site is here:
    http://www.careerlostandfound.com/Life_Beyond_IT.html
    and she kindly linked to my review of her book on that page.

    Overall, an inspiring read for IT staffers who doubt their ability to make a career change – although it’s fair to point out that a few of the people she profiled chose to stay within IT by moving into a different role or industry sector.

    Practically speaking, for those not yet ready or able to leave the corporate/government teat, I think running a blog and dipping a toe into the social marketing melee that the web is devolving into helps teach many of the business and marketing survival skills required by consultants, entrepreneurs and yes, even career high-fliers!

    regards
    mark mcclure
    Tokyo, Japan

     
  4. simonstapleton

    @Mark – thanks for the link, I am sure we will find it useful. I think the bloggers/consultants/entrepreneurs (like ourselves!) are breaking the mould of the IT worker by blurring the boundaries between work and non-work (as classically defined)…. for me and you it’s just ‘work’ (put perhaps work with passion!)

     

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