Certification Survey Extra is a series of periodic dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our most recent Certification Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Certification Survey data.
Hiring managers and others often ask job candidates what they see when they look down the road a couple of years. Some individuals who hear that question know exactly what they want and how they are intending to get it. Some have a canned answer that sounds rotely ambitious, others shrug off the question, or maybe squirm a little, or possibly even think, "Huh. I haven't really asked myself that."
Some career paths, of course, follow a fairly standard progression that makes it easy, or at least not uncomfortable, to know or guess what the next step will be. And some people take jobs where they intend to do the thing they're being hired for across an indefinite length of time and hope to stick around for years to come.
There are other career paths, however, that shift from one thing to something different. Some jobs provide a proving ground that allows people to hone certain skills and lay the foundation for a shift in a different direction. People who work in those jobs may not even know where they intend to go next, but they know they won't stay where they are for long.
Computer technician jobs are often looked at in that sense, especially by people whose intention is to work in IT for the long haul. IT support is a place where you gain practical, hands-on experience, solidify your understanding of various tools and topics, and maybe even develop a forward-looking focus on a particular IT skill set.
Knowing that many, perhaps even most, workers who take computer support jobs have no intention of staying in that lane indefinitely, we included a couple of questions in our recent Computer Technician Support Survey about the short-term future.
For starters, we asked survey respondents whether they intend to say where they are:
Q: How likely are you to remain a computer technician in the next 3-to-5 years?
Very Likely — 37.3 percent
Likely — 18.7 percent
Somewhat likely — 26.7 percent
Not Likely — 17.3 percent
That's a lot of stability. More than 55 percent of those who participated in the survey are pretty convinced that they their short-term future is set. And even among the relative undecideds, most feel they are at least somewhat likely to stay put.
Next we asked survey respondents whether they see themselves remaining in support but seeking a position of greater responsibility:
Q: How likely are to remain a computer technician but seek to move up to a higher level in the next 3-to-5 years?
Very Likely — 39.5 percent
Likely — 26.3 percent
Somewhat Likely — 21.1 percent
Not Likely — 13.2 percent
Here is where we start to see some of the fluidity that many observers attribute to the IT support field. Almost nobody wants to stay on the metaphorical bottom rung of the ladder. Even while staying in IT support, nearly everyone who participated in the survey is at least somewhat likely to try to move up to a better position.
Next we asked whether certified support professionals are potentially using their current jobs to springboard out of IT altogether.
Q: How likely are you to look for work in a different non-IT field in the next 3-to-5 years?
Very Likely — 7.9 percent
Likely — 10.5 percent
Somewhat Likely — 18.4 percent
Not Likely — 62.3 percent
It would seem that very few of the people who participated in the survey are considering putting their IT experience in the rearview mirror. The "Not Likely" number is the real story here: A majority of survey respondents clearly feel that, having taken the time to set down IT roots, they intend to stick with those roots.
Finally, we asked the question about whether certified computer technicians view their current jobs as a means of branching out within the IT ecosystem.
Q: How likely are you to look for work in a different IT field in the next 3 to 5 years?
Very Likely — 33.8 percent
Likely — 12.2 percent
Somewhat Likely — 21.6 percent
Not Likely — 32.4 percent
The answers here reflect some of the stability that we saw earlier. More than half of respondents do NOT appear to be angling to move up from support to cybersecurity, or networking, or data, or cloud computing, or whatever the next thing might be. There is a notable group of individuals, however, who do see their current position as a stepping stone to different IT disciplines.