Industry Spotlight: Information Technology
Want to work in an industry that is dynamic, fast-paced, and high-growth? According to Intel Corporation’s Vice President of Human Resources and Chief Human Resource Officer of Talent Management Organization, Barbara Fisher, the information technology (IT) field is exactly that. “This industry offers tremendous opportunity for men and women with a military background,” she said.
“The tech industry is also great for generous and comprehensive benefits, as well as offering among the most competitive compensation in the country,” Fisher said. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in May 2016, the median annual wage for these occupations was $82,860, compared to the median annual wage of $37,040 for all occupations.
Occupations in IT, and the technology industry overall, are booming, thanks to a greater emphasis on cloud computing, the collection and storage of big data, the continued demand for mobile computing, and other factors. Computer and IT occupations are expected to increase from about 3.9 million in 2014 to 4.4 million in 2024, a nearly 13 percent increase, according to BLS.
“This field offers job security,” said Head of Veteran Initiatives at FDM Group, John Tansill. “IT and technology are at the heart of every business today. Technology roles are in companies across every sector, which means there are a wide range of opportunities from IT service management support, programming, business analysis, big data analytics, to project managing business transformation projects.”
What Jobs Fit Your Skills?
“As a veteran, your military experience and skills may give you an edge in the job hunting landscape,” Fisher stated. “When joining this field, you will have the chance to explore, design, and evaluate innovative technologies for worldwide business challenges.” So how do you know whether your military skills and experiences in the IT realm match those job options?
1. Do you have a security clearance? “[Having a security clearance] highlights your responsibility and accountability,” Fisher said. “As tech and IT are ever-evolving fields, your ability to sell your adaptability becomes very appealing to both large and small organizations,” she added.
2. Were you in any type of communications role when you served? “If you served in the communications arm of your respective military branch, you may want to consider seeking opportunities as either a network, information security or cyber security specialist,” Fisher noted.
3. Did your job involve cyber-security? If you’ve been in cyber-security in the military, your skills are in high demand. Some examples: security architect (building secure infrastructure), security policies (development of procedures), or executive roles (such as information security officer or director of cyber security).
Where to Look
One hot area is “penetration tester,” which involves designing techniques to break defenses. If you were in the Signal Corps or were an intelligence analyst, this field would be comparable. According to the BLS, information security analysts – who plan and carry out security measures to protect an organization’s networks and systems – received a median pay of $92,600 in 2016.
Other hot careers in technology and IT? “A recent BLS statistic shows that by 2024, software developers will be up 18 percent, computer systems analysts will increase by 21 percent, and market research analysts by almost 19 percent,” Fisher said.
She added that tech companies, like Intel, seek veterans who are not in technology fields for a myriad of other roles. “Even without a technical background, there are many opportunities in non-technical support functions, such as human resources or finance. Securing jobs in these fields will typically lead to the same benefits as those who work in the more technical areas,” she said.
Some companies, like FDM Group, will provide training to get you up to speed. FDM’s “Careers Program” gives former military personnel award-winning business and technical training in core disciplines. Employees progress to represent FDM on client sites as consultants for a minimum of two years.
“A veteran should choose a career that best suits their interests and complements their skills,” Tansill said. “I would recommend going into IT or business as a career path, as both are continuously growing fields that can lead to very lucrative futures. With FDM, a career in IT comes with job security, a consultant support team to nurture your career goals, and unparalleled experience with some of our large global clients.”
Qualifications to Consider
“Generally speaking, tech companies look for degrees in computer science, electrical engineering, or data science,” Fisher said. “We always encourage veterans to continue their education in technical fields to pursue a career in IT. However, your background on specific projects both in the military and as a civilian will be considered for any role for which you apply.”
Former Army Sergeant Charles Tendell is the founder and chief executive officer of Azorian Cyber Security in Denver and host of the radio show “Hacked,” which gives listeners advice on breaking into cyber security jobs. He offers more specific qualifications to consider:
If you’re just starting in IT: Seek certifications in A+, Network+, and Security+.
• A+ establishes best practices in troubleshooting, networking, and security.
• Network+ involves skills to design, configure, manage, and troubleshoot wired and wireless networks.
• Security+ covers network security and risk management.
If you’re more advanced in cyber security: Levels of expertise are: Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP), and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).
• CEH professionals use the same knowledge and tools as malicious hackers, but in a lawful and legitimate manner to assess the security of the target system.
• OSCP professionals have demonstrated an ability to be presented with an unknown network, enumerate targets within their scope, exploit them, and clearly document their results in a penetration test report.
• CISSP certification is the ideal credential for those with proven deep technical and managerial competence. These professionals protect organizations from growing sophisticated attacks. Requirements involve five years of experience and a mentor.
“Some companies give veterans special considerations,” Tansill said. “FDM only looks for four major things during the veteran recruitment process: enthusiasm, critical thinking skills and aptitude, a willingness to learn, and a clean DD214.
“Veterans bring something far more valuable than certifications and degrees. They bring experience in leadership, team work, communication, problem solving, and a work ethic honed through years of military experience. If a candidate has a degree or certificate, though, that education will assist them in their training in FDM, as well as their futures as consultants,” he said.
Technology is firmly embedded in society and business and it’s not going away any time soon. While it takes a little due diligence, veterans have an outstanding chance to find their place in this field.
“There is a digital skills gap that reaches across the globe,” Tansill said. “Companies want and need talented people to continue to run existing IT systems and build the technology of the future.”
By Heidi Lynn Russell