If you’re one of those people who spent their childhood being yelled at by their parents for spending too much time on the computer, and if you’ve never lost your love of tech, why not seek out a career where you can make use of it every day? People will see your passion in a very different way when you’re using it to make a living. Far from being limited to one small area, you might make your mark in any number of different fields where talents such as yours are in high demand – including some that you might never have thought of. This article provides an introduction to the opportunities out there.
IT and cybersecurity
The most obvious career path for tech lovers is in information technology and its rapidly developing cousin cybersecurity. However, just because it’s a popular choice doesn’t mean that it’s a boring one. There are a great many different roles to explore in this sector, and it’s relatively easy to move between them, though most people don’t take long to find something that they like and start developing a specialty. It also offers a great many different ways of working, with companies of all sizes offering secure employment within the sector, home working and hybrid working options easy to find, and the possibility of making a good living as a consultant once you’ve built up sufficient experience.
Although the primary focus of this work is in the corporate sector, there are also opportunities to work for government or to get involved in the development of tools for individual users, and the delivery of technical support. You could be working with software or hardware, and if you don’t mind anti-social hours, you can get great rates by being there to provide support overnight or pulling long shifts focused on data retrieval and restoring security when big organizations experience crashes. Getting an online cybersecurity degree is the first step towards becoming a part of a dynamic industry where you will never struggle to find interesting work.
Science and medicine
Most of the biggest developments in science and medicine in recent years would not have been possible without the ability to manage and analyze large data sets. Brilliant scientists worked to bring us the COVID-19 vaccines and set up the James Webb Space Telescope, but without equal dedication from the tech staff on their teams, they would not have got the results they did. What’s more, science, medicine and technology now increasingly overlap in interesting ways, which could give you the potential to get involved in making momentous discoveries and finding ways to exploit them that change people’s lives.
Scientific and medical technology is an ever-growing field and has been branching out into new areas in recent years. Exciting developments in nanotech have opened up new areas that could make a dramatic difference to the way that we live. Engaged in intense competition, companies around the world are looking for people with strong technical skills who also possess the commitment and diligence to take on this work.
There’s a lot of potential for creativity in these areas, but advancement is impossible without patient, repetitive work that many people find satisfying, especially as they watch it build toward the confirmation of theories or the prompting of new questions. When the science is in place, it’s up to tech experts to work out how to package and deliver it, whether it’s a new medicine that has to reach the right part of the body or a new gadget that has to be easy to use and compatible with existing technology.
Aerospace and military
Where there is a literal arms race, there is always a need for people with highly advanced tech skills, even during peacetime. The increasing use of drones and other semi-autonomous military vehicles means that many more resources are now directed into design, coding, maintenance and cybersecurity, and there is an increasing overlap between technical staff and remote pilots. Espionage also requires the continual development of new devices as opponents work out how to detect and disable existing ones, while there are also opportunities to analyze captured enemy devices, learn from them and work out how to deal with them. While it may not be as high profile as it once was, this kind of work continues to go on, and if you have the talent and can demonstrate that you are also loyal and discreet, then it could be the role for you.
The pressure of climate change has added to the need to make air traffic of all kinds more efficient, and to find cleaner and greener ways to get into orbit in order to position and maintain space infrastructure. As corporations race to get ahead of one another in developing new systems and improving old ones, there are exciting roles for those with outstanding tech skills both in design itself and in the analysis of data that informs it. Working in this field, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you’re advancing technology that’s essential to humanity’s future, as well as opening up opportunities for new kinds of science to develop.
Energy generation and storage
As it becomes clearer and clearer that fossil fuel dependency is a bad idea, work continues apace to improve renewable energy technologies and bring them online. Historically, the big barrier to making this work at a national level has been storage – it was simply too difficult to store enough energy captured when the wind was blowing and the sun was shining to see us through the periods when it wasn’t, and even tidal energy couldn’t help with fluctuating demand in changeable weather. This is where things get interesting, however, because as pressure mounts to make a change, battery technology is advancing faster than ever before, incorporating revolutionary approaches to energy storage that, along with greater efficiency, promise to be far less polluting at the manufacturing stage than their predecessors.
With the energy storage industry now expanding rapidly, it’s full steam ahead, as it were, for green energy production, creating huge numbers of tech jobs in both areas. Work is needed in design, data analysis, troubleshooting, application and maintenance. Working in this sector, you could spend your days in a lab fine-tuning new devices, or out in the field scaling wind turbines or installing solar panels. You could play your part in the green revolution on which our future depends, and enjoy a continually challenging, absorbing career in the process.
Automotive and robotics
If you love fast cars and the idea of a future in which robots have more and more exciting roles to play in every aspect of life, you’ll be pleased to know that you don’t need to be a brilliant engineer to get involved in these industries, as they have roles available for people with many different kinds of technical skills. There are always new puzzles to solve, always ways to do basic tasks better, and always opportunities for people who can combine creative insight with strong analytical skills and the ability to turn what they imagine into something real.
This is a field that appears to advance in sudden leaps, but there is a lot of detailed work doing on behind the scenes day to day. Most of it is small scale, focused on coming up with solutions to very specific problems, or working out how best to adapt established principles to suit different environments. It is also, in significant part, focused on the interface between technology and the user. So, if you want to work in this sector, you will need a good understanding of how people engage with vehicles and other machines, what they want from them, and how much effort they are willing to put in to customize them to their needs – something that varies across different demographics. This is backed by data analysis, but there is also an intuitive element to it, as without asking the right questions, it would take a very long time to get useful answers.
Games and sports
Many people first get into tech by getting involved in games, so it’s no surprise that becoming a game designer is often cited as a dream career. This means that there’s a lot of competition, so it isn’t easy to go straight into it if all you have is a college degree – at least not if you want to join an established firm, rather than taking a risk at one of many start-ups. The good news is that in this case, there’s something useful you can do alongside studying, or even in place of it, and that is developing your own game ideas. It’s the ideas that really matter, so even small games can make a big impression on potential employers, and there are numerous platforms on which you can make them available either for free or at very low cost, the aim being to distribute them as far as you can. If you’re able to gain some name recognition this way, then you’ll find that doors open up for you. Don’t be shy about talking up what you do and put effort into networking to ensure that you can make the most of any opportunities.
Techies are often unfairly stereotyped as pale, unhealthy individuals with a preference for staying indoors, but in fact there are whole branches of tech now concerned with sport and fitness. Games once played while sitting at a desk have expanded over time into the physical world, evolving in stages through the likes of arcade shooting games, the Nintendo Wii, Zombies, Run! and Pokémon GO. Meanwhile, devices such as the Fitbit have added elements of gamification to traditional forms of exercise. Because these lose their effectiveness as motivators when people get used to them, there’s always demand for more. What’s more, there’s a whole range of performance-monitoring devices that are constantly evolving, creating opportunities in design that are best suited to those who can combine technical skill with a passion for sporting activities themselves, or at least an understanding of what drives people to engage in them.
Archiving and cartography
We live in a data-driven society, but the more data we acquire, the more the task of managing it presents serious challenges. Archiving data so that it can be efficiently catalogued and retrieved as needed is now an important area of work in which you will need to be alert to issues around access, the preservation of data integrity, and security. The tech roles available in this sector are not simply focused on system design and cataloging, but also on data retrieval, and on identifying ways of promoting the visibility of key data resources to those likely to benefit from access to them. You will have to be good at getting yourself into the different mindsets of people working across a range of different fields.
Closely related to this, and becoming increasingly important due to the impacts of climate change, is cartography. A field that used to be focused primarily on geographic knowledge and artistic skill now draws more and more on technology, including the use of satellite imagery and meteorological data. In particular, mapping changing ocean currents is of vital importance to both transport networks and food security, while smaller-scale work is essential to the construction industry. This type of work requires fastidious data management and an awareness of how different sets of information overlap in terms of the useful meaning that can be extracted from them.
Agriculture and sustainability
Most people without a direct connection to it still think of agriculture as an old-fashioned industry focused around the human connection to the soil. While this remains true in some parts of the world, it is less and less so overall. Around a third of the Earth’s arable land is degraded, and climate change means that more and more of it is being lost, while the increasing population means that there is pressure to produce significantly greater quantities of food. The trick is to do this without degrading the land further, and without creating long-term risks of dangerous disease among key plant species and pollinating insects, such as those currently posed by large-scale monocultures. The solution to this lies in technology.
Working in agricultural tech involves monitoring the status of crops and the condition of soil through a series of increasingly sophisticated instruments, which also need to be managed and maintained. In response to measurements, irrigation needs to be delivered efficiently and pesticide applied where necessary. There are, additionally, new roles emerging in vertical farming and in the growth of lab-cultured meat (the capillary distribution problem having been solved), which require not just the diligence and problem-solving skills needed in most tech roles, but also a creative streak, as these sectors expand and develop in response to rising demand. Finally, there are, adjacent to this, related roles in forestry and in the management of wild environments with a view to sustaining healthy ecosystems and protecting natural resources.
Movies and entertainment
It’s rare today to see a big studio movie that doesn’t include some special effects, even if they’re so smoothly integrated that viewers barely notice them. Even low-key dramas are starting to depend on them as they enable more and more work to be carried out in post-production, cleaning up errors and reducing the need for expensive reshoots. What’s true in Hollywood is also true of many independent productions, and the same goes for series on the small screen. Game of Thrones really pushed the boundaries of what was possible in television. However, in doing so, it inspired other productions to try to live up to that standard, and now technology has already advanced to the point where it’s possible to do in a week what took four months or more at the point when the final season of that series was made.
These advances in technology didn’t come out of nowhere. The advances in hardware mean that independent photographers can now record cinema-quality footage on their own equipment. With demand high from viewers and creative professionals alike, companies working in this area are constantly trying to go further, improving tools, simplifying their use, and bringing down the cost, while making watching movies and television more exciting for everyone. This means that people who combine technical skill with creativity and a passion for the entertainment industry are in high demand. Salaries are good and there’s the opportunity to work on some really exciting projects.
With all these areas and more constantly in need of workers whose technical talent is matched by their love of the job, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to find a career that makes work feel like play. All the time on the computer in your childhood wasn’t wasted – it was preparing you for this. All you need is hard work, imagination and a willingness to learn. Tech careers offer great job satisfaction, high salaries and benefits, and much more.