CompTIA Assesses Moods and Attitudes of IT Workers
In early to mid-June, CompTIA polled 820 IT professionals, including 570 CompTIA certification holders and 250 other IT professionals contacted through a neutral third party. Among the certification holders, the primary credentials covered were the A+, Network+, Security+, and Server+ certifications.
(By no coincidence at all, these four also happen to be the most popular and sought-after of CompTIA's 14 different credentials.)
The focus on this first round, in fact, is exclusively on the United States, with forays into Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom planned for future follow-ups. This comprises the basis for CompTIA's 2017 IT Career Insights study, about which I'll report further here.
Survey Highlights and Noteworthy Observations
First and foremost, CompTIA reports that job satisfaction for IT professionals is on the upswing. Nearly 8 in 10 IT workers (79 percent) report themselves either "very satisfied" or "mostly satisfied" with their jobs. Of that group, just over one-third (34 percent) report themselves as "very satisfied."
While this situation could always improve further, this is a nice jump from 2015, when 73 percent reported themselves in one of these two categories, with 28 percent in the "very satisfied" group. Clearly, people are feeling better about working in IT than they did just a couple of years ago.
According to the survey, IT professionals share numerous "key traits." CompTIA describes these as "having an aptitude for technology, passion for technology, desire for continued learning, and wanting to be challenged." This accurately reflects the situation that most IT pros face when working in the field, particularly where learning and challenges are concerned, so this reflects a keen understanding of the fields in which they must labor.
IT professionals want more employer support, and could use that support, to help them execute their jobs more effectively and efficiently. They indicate a specific desire for more resources for professional development and career guidance.
Certainly, my own personal experience in working in and around IT certification since the mid-1990s informs me that there is indeed a strong appetite for professional and career development information and learning materials. IT workers are not generally the type to sit on their hands and daydream about retirement.
In asking IT pros about where they want their careers to go, over half (55 percent) claim a good understanding of their career path over the next 5 years. The other 45 percent indicate they could find value in obtaining support to help them develop a similar understanding.
Whether or not IT pros actually, actively belong to a professional society, alumni association, business or trade group, and so forth, the vast majority believe such involvement would benefit their IT careers. That's a potentially valuable insight for any IT workers who are feeling vaguely unfulfilled and would like to branch out.
Survey respondents indicated that learning opportunities and professional networking are specific offerings that make group membership (in a professional society, alumni association, or any of the other groups cited in the preceding paragraph) valuable and worthwhile. IT pros also show strong interest in working with "cutting edge technologies" that include hacking and cybersecurity, new hardware or software, cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT).
When asked to describe their dream jobs, survey respondents offered these five elements most often to answer this request for information (numbered items are quoted verbatim out of an e-mail from CompTIA PR maven and Director Steven Ostrowski):
1) Workplace flexibility, with options for flexible hours, work from home, or work remotely, to allow them to enjoy a work-life balance.
2) Leadership opportunities to supervise a team of tech pros and to have a greater positive impact on the organization.
3) Working with and being challenged by new technologies, so they can expand their personal knowledge and skills and become greater contributors to organizational success.
4) Opportunities to make a difference by helping others.
5) Fair pay that keeps pace with and acknowledges their expanded skill set and greater responsibilities as they advance in their career.
The top training methods that IT pros prefer to technical training are many and varied. They include practice tests and skills assessments, labs and simulations for hands-on experience and learning, eLearning courses, online sessions and webinars, and instructor-led classroom training (ILT).
In addition, 9 out of 10 agree that testing after training is important to confirm knowledge and skills gains (53 percent say "very important;" 37 percent say "somewhat important").
And finally, the survey results suggest that IT certification continues to appreciate in value and worth. Nearly 3 our of every 4 of IT managers rate IT certs as "valuable in terms of validating skills or evaluating job candidates" (73 percent say either "very valuable" or "somewhat valuable" in this metric, up from 59 percent in 2015).