The future is here, and while we are still waiting on flying cars, technology has transformed everyday businesses into digital powerhouses. From Walmart’s state-of-the-art cybersecurity to Ford’s in-car software, it’s no wonder the Wall Street Journal named “every company” a “tech company.” Having only known a world of technology, today's high schoolers will be the ones leading the charge. If your student is your go-to when your computer crashes or is always schooling you on the latest technologies, a career in Information Technology (IT) might be a perfect fit for them. Or, as a digital native, your teen may not be thinking about IT, but they still could be a shoo-in for the career field. Through career readiness education, you can help your student get a head start on their career in IT.
What is Information Technology (IT)?
You may think of the proverbial nerd when you think about IT—a buttoned-up support specialist who you call when your computer has a bug. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to IT. A network systems administrator designed the phone system you use to call for assistance. The email you wrote to thank your “IT guy” used software that hundreds, if not thousands of software developers and programmers created. Here are just a few of the vast number of jobs in the IT field:
- Software Developer—Creates and designs applications for computers
- Computer Programmer—Writes code that computers need to function
- Computer Support Specialist›Fixes technical issues on computers and networks
- Computer Systems Analyst—Organizes how computers speak to each other
- Web Developer—Creates and designs websites
In the digital age, it’s probably quicker to name things that don’t use IT than things that do. Think about a task like getting groceries. You get in your car, and immediately your screens turn on. You arrive at the grocery store and pass through motion-activated doors. You roam the aisles and pass by clerks using scan guns to manage inventory. Finally, you get to the checkout counter, where the cashier scans your items and processes your payment on a computer. The point is, IT is everywhere. And so are IT jobs.
With almost every company adopting modern technology comes IT job opportunities and lots of them. In fact, the BLS expects IT jobs to increase by 12 percent by the year 2028. This means teens can still pursue working for the company of their dreams, even if their career path takes them to IT. Basketball fanatics and makeup-obsessed teens rejoice! The IT career path opens up opportunities at every type of company.
Learning IT in High School
For students who dream of working for tech giants like Tesla or Microsoft, learning IT in high school will give them a head start. Through career readiness education, students can take career-oriented electives and pursue their digital interests. By learning technical skills early, career readiness students gain the confidence to take their next step after high school, whether that’s career or college. For teens who have no clue what they want to do after high school, career readiness is a chance to explore everything the IT career field offers.
Imagine how excited your teen would be to go to a class involving video games. Coding camps, video game clubs, and publishing websites are the norm for students learning IT in high school. Through career readiness education, students can fill their schedule with IT-focused classes. These electives teach skills they’ll need to be successful in the IT career field. Coding classes are a great example of how these electives can really pay off. Of the IT jobs that only require high school degrees, the top two most desired skills involve coding languages--Java and Python. The average salary for these jobs? It hovers around $80,000*. Students can learn these exact languages and hone their technique in class. This gives them a competitive edge after graduation.
In 2017, 30 percent of students pursuing an Associate or Bachelor’s degree had changed their major* in their first three years of enrolling. Talk about a tuition nightmare! By learning IT in high school, students can explore their strengths and interests in a tuition-free environment. Students can gain real-world experience through job shadowing, apprenticeships, and internships. With these unique in-person and virtual opportunities, students can:
- Gain meaningful insights from industry professionals about their daily life in IT
- Practice skills learned in the classroom with the direction of professionals
- Develop professional skills to thrive in an IT work environment
eSports and Career Clubs
Learning IT in high school wouldn’t be complete without sports and clubs. Yes, we said sports. In the world of IT, eSports dominate. Students can join teams, show off their skills, and compete against other teams through the High School Esports League. Accredited by STEM.org, this modern approach to sports is a way for IT students to play on a team and still focus on their career path. Students more interested in coding and other aspects of IT can practice their craft through Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs). SkillsUSA, for example, is a CTSO that provides resources to help students learn technical IT skills, then put them to the test at a competition. These competitions give students more than just bragging rights; they give them a leg up after graduation--whether that’s college, career, or both.
IT Pathway at Destinations Career Academy
If you’re chomping at the bit to have your teen start learning IT in high school, K12 has an option for you--Destinations Career Academy. This K12-powered, tuition-free, online public high school program personalizes career readiness education for every student. With six IT Pathways to choose from, students can explore:
- Digital Design
- Game Design and Programming
- Web and Digital Communication
These modern pathways can transform your teen into a techie! Through interest-based electives, like IT Explorations, students can get a better understanding of which IT pathway suits their strengths and interests. These pathways provide a chance for students to develop real-world skills needed in the modern workplace through project-based learning. By working in teams, students develop essential skills for the IT career field such as:
- Creative problem solving
- Collaboration and teamwork
- Critical thinking
If you’re dreaming of a future of flying cars, look to the next generation. Your teen may be the next Elon Musk. By learning IT in high school, you can give them a head start on their IT career while earning their high school diploma.
*Burning Glass, 2019.