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More Jobs and Less Pressure. Why It Might Be a Good Idea to Start Your Career in a Non-IT Company

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It is a common opinion in the tech industry that for a Junior developer, finding a job and getting first several years of experience as a full-time developer often is a challenge. And it is mostly true. If we are talking about companies in the tech industry.

90% of IT jobs are concentrated in non-tech industries

Non-tech industries also require lots of programmers and other IT specialists, and the demand for IT skills outside the traditional tech industry is rapidly growing, according to a new research by Oracle Academy and Burning Glass Technologies.More Jobs and Less Pressure. Why It Might Be a Good Idea to Start Your Career in a Non-IT Company - 1

Photo by Angelo DeSantis / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Changes by CodeGym

“IT jobs are widely misunderstood to be housed primarily in the tech sector, and they are also thought to be inaccessible. Building on our prior research efforts and mining a database of over 150 million unique online job postings, we were able to produce more evidence that neither of these perceptions are born out by data. To the contrary, 90% of IT skills and jobs are concentrated in 10 non-tech industries, leaving only 10% in the tech sector. And the rapid growth of IT jobs is more than 50% greater in non-tech industries than in tech industries,” the authors of the report found. According to the report, between 2013–2018, IT job growth in the tech sector was 40%; while outside of tech, IT job growth jumped 65%. The professional services, manufacturing, and financial services industries are the largest in terms of absolute demand for IT jobs, accounting for about half of all IT openings in the non-tech sector, researchers found.

Jobs in non-tech companies are more accessible for beginners

What’s even more interesting, IT jobs in non-tech companies are also more accessible for beginners, Oracle Academy and Burning Glass Technologies found. And this makes them pretty good entry points into tech careers. In the tech sector, 89% of IT jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 76% in non-tech industries. 29% of openings in non-tech industries request two years of work experience or less, compared with only 16% in tech. Putting all of the above into consideration, we decided to analyse the jobs for software developers in non-tech industries a little deeper, and came up with a list of pros and cons of this kind of jobs, based on opinions on the matter from experienced developers and other tech specialists.

Developer’s job in a non-tech company. Pros

  • Programming jobs in non-IT are more accessible and generally less demanding

We have already explained why developer jobs in non-tech industries are more accessible for Junior-level specialists. Another major difference is that non-IT companies are not as demanding to the level of developer’s professional skills. They don’t put as much pressure on Junior developers to learn new things and improve qualification level compared to tech companies. “Working for a tech company pushes you harder, to learn more and be better. I learned more in my job at a tech services/development company than I have anywhere else. The thing that sucked about that job was the hours and the time away from my family,” said Mark Graham, an experienced developer and member of DEV Community.

  • Programming jobs in non-IT are often less formal and hierarchical

We all know that IT is a very competitive environment, and the success in this competition is usually well-rewarded. Careerism and bureaucracy in modern-day tech is the other side of this competitiveness. Many people get tired of things that are typical for work in IT companies, such as team processes, strict hierarchy and career / office politics. Employment in non-IT industries, working for companies with small tech teams and departments, may be a good alternative to avoid this. “I work at a non-tech company, and I find that there is a lot of discussion in tech about titles, hierarchy, and team processes that are not part of my world at all. The formalities don't exist for me,” said Brian Kephart, another DEV Community member.

  • Job in non-IT can be more motivating as you get more involved with real-world problems

Some programmers with experience of being employed in non-tech industries also report that the same software development work may feel more satisfying as they get involved in working on real-world problems and seeing the results of their work in action. This also makes it easier for them to stay motivated. “It's much more satisfying to see the purpose of the software and be directly involved with solving real-world issues by thinking not by tasks in Jira or patterns. You feel more useful, at least that's my case,” said Haris Secic, software developer from Sweden.

  • Job in a non-IT company may provide you with more opportunities

This is not always the case, as many programming positions in non-tech companies are dead-end jobs for sure, but they could also provide a lot of opportunities if approached with the right mindset. After all, they say in the near future every company will be a tech company. Companies in various industries these days are just starting to discover new technologies and are often willing to promote valuable tech specialists working for them. “You may not be designing the next big tech product or the newest gadget, but you can find yourself showing someone ideas that could disrupt the industry of your employer — and show how the company could profit from those ideas, leaving their competitors in the lurch. You’ll find yourself designing and or writing mission critical systems, and you can show users a way of determining what done means,” said Russell McCabe, former software engineer with decades of professional experience.

Developer’s job in a non-tech company. Cons

Of course, it’s not that all or even the majority of programming jobs in non-tech industries are so great. They have enough disadvantages as well. Here are some of the most notable and common ones.

  • It is more often for non-tech companies to treat programmers as liability and expense, not an asset

This is probably the most common complaint that can be heard from many software developers working in non-IT industries. The perception of the IT department and/or software development team by the management of non-tech businesses is understandably different: for them, programmers are more of an expense rather than an asset. Here’s one typical experience of a coder in non-IT: “My first job was part of a team of 5 devs at a non-software company. The biggest difference in my view was that software companies view their dvs as their biggest assets where non-software companies view them as an expense. Because we were an expense, the company was always trying to cut corners. We never got time to pay down our mounting technical debt, most of which was added by engineers that the company outsourced to in SE Asia (another cost-cutting measure). I was even told by my manager that the reason they hired me and another bootcamp grad was because two juniors were much cheaper than the senior developer they so desperately needed.”

  • Management of non-IT companies often doesn’t understand tech, which makes your work more difficult

Another very common complaint is that managers of non-IT companies usually have no clue about technologies and the development process. That’s why they have a hard time estimating the time and resources required to complete a project, which often leads to unrealistic expectations and the absence of clarity in communication with the tech team. “Managers often do not understand tech. They make promises without being able to estimate the necessary effort,” said Tobias Krause, a .NET developer.

  • Programmers in non-IT often have to work with legacy code and outdated technologies

The need to work with legacy code and outdated technologies and solutions is also something that can be typical for certain non-IT companies and industries. When that’s the case, the programmer’s work can be quite boring and tiring. Another problem is that working with legacy solutions limits your experience, which can have a negative effect on career growth. “Currently, I work for a university. Our workload is based on working with cloud APIs mostly. And it sucks, to be honest. Because most of the companies that give services for universities established a long time ago and their documentation is the worst thing to read. Most of the time even they don't understand what they have done (I know this by talking to them),” said Chingiz Huseynzade, a full-time backend developer.
What else to read:
More Jobs and Less Pressure. Why It Might Be a Good Idea to Start Your Career in a Non-IT Company - 2
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