Where Do IT Workers Come From And What Do They Look Like?

No, this is not what today's IT worker looks like!
No, this is not what today’s IT worker looks like!

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As an IT manager, you are responsible for having the IT manager skills needed to build the IT teams that will be able to solve your company’s toughest problems. However, do you know where to look for the people that you’ll want to add to your team? None of us have ever had any IT manager training in how to do this. For that matter, do you even know what you are looking for? Here’s a hint: they are not going to look like you! Let’s have a chat about where today’s IT workers are coming from and what they look like…

What Do Today’s IT Workers Look Like?

The first question that IT managers need to answer is just exactly what do today’s IT workers look like? I’m going to focus on system administrators because they are harder to find. This question has three different components to it: gender, race, and age.

The first question, gender, is probably one that we all know how to answer very well. The majority of IT workers, system administrators specifically, are male. In fact, a whopping 75% the IT staff that you probably have are male. However, the 25% that are women is growing and so you need to keep your eyes open for opportunities to add more women to your team.

When it comes to race, I was quite surprised to discover that 68% of IT workers are white. After that, the next largest segment is the Asian segment at 11%. This is followed closely by the Hispanic segment at 10.7% and the black segment at 10%.

Finally, when it comes to age of system administrators, I was once again surprised to discover how old the IT industry is. The largest segment of IT workers are 35-44 years old and this makes up 36% of the industry. The next largest segment is the 25-34 segment which contains 31%. The final segment of any significant size consists of workers who are 45-54 years old and this makes up 17% of the market.

Where Do They Come From?

Now that we know what a typical IT worker looks like, the next big question is where do they come from? One of the biggest questions is do these workers have university degrees. When you take a look at how much effort most companies put into recruiting on college campuses, you would assume that they all do.

However, that assumption would be wrong. In a recent survey done by the Wall Street Journal, it turns out that only 40% of IT workers have a bachelor’s university degree. The next largest segment is those workers who have some university education, but who never got a bachelor’s degree. This group consists of 25% of IT workers.

There are, of course, other levels of education represented in IT. 16% of IT workers have received an associate’s degree. This is followed by 10% who have gone on to get a master’s degree. Clearly the level of education that you’ll find when you are looking to add to your IT team will be all over the map.

What Does This Mean For You?

One of the biggest mistakes that an IT manager can make is to assume that he or she knows what IT workers look like. We’ve all formed our own opinions based on who we attended university with and who we’ve worked with during our career. However, that may not accurately reflect who we should be looking at to add to our IT teams today. Remember: you can’t do any IT team building until you have built your team!

Today’s IT workers are primarily white males. However, there is a growing representation from both women and minorities. The majority of IT workers are over 35 years old. However, that may change as the baby boomers start to retire. Somewhere between 33-40% of IT workers will have a university degree.

It is critical that IT managers understand what they are looking for when they go to staff their team. The IT workers of yesterday don’t look anything like the IT workers of today. Make sure that you stay on top of what IT workers both look like and where they come from. This is the only way that you’ll be able to build IT teams that will be successful!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: How important do you think diversity is to an IT team?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When the IT projects that our teams created started to run out of servers and storage, the magic bullet of virtualization suddenly showed up. This wee bit of technology suddenly made just about every IT project virtual in some way: almost every layer of the network and service delivery stack can now be virtualized. However, none of us have the IT manager skills that are needed to deal with this new technology. Only now are IT managers are slowly starting to realize that there are some hidden drawbacks to this miracle cure.