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What to Expect from a Technology Education

Education for a technology profession offers diverse training opportunities

As of December 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that for more than a year, over 3 million open jobs in the market go unfilled each month. While not all of these jobs are exclusively technological, the BLS notes that many technology professions should be in demand in the coming decade, and many are projected by the BLS to potentially experience growth nationwide of up to twice that projected for all other occupations between 2010 and 2020.

  • Database administrators. Up to 31 percent national employment growth projected from 2010 to 2020
  • Software developers. Up to 30 percent national employment growth projected from 2010 to 2020
  • Information security analysts, Web developers, and computer network architects. Overall, up to 22 percent national employment growth projected from 2010 to 2020
  • Computer programmers. Up to 12 percent national employment growth projected from 2010 to 2020
  • Computer systems analysts. Up to 22 percent national employment growth projected from 2010 to 2020

Also, because many technology professions may qualify as STEM professions, it's possible that scholarships may be available to cover some or even all of a technology program's tuition. Ask your school about financial aid or scholarship opportunities. Grants from the National Science Foundation to further STEM education may eventually result in an increase of technology programs that include curriculums on nanotechnology and cyberphysical systems.

Technology professionals can expect to find jobs in the professional, scientific and technological services industry, which fall either under the Bureau of Labor Statistics' professional and business services or the information sectors. While both industries have seen fewer gross job gains than they have in the past, recent data from the BLS indicates slight gross jobs gain for both the professional and business services and the information sectors.

What to expect from a schools with technology programs

Technical schools offering technology degrees are similar to vocational schools in that they provide education specifically for a career or job, rather than a broad covering of the classics and humanities in addition to vocational education. However, these programs focus on a technological vocation such as computer programming or electrical engineering rather than, say, masonry. Furthermore, unlike other trades, these jobs usually cannot be performed by individuals who are simply receiving on-the-job training alone. Indeed, a sampling of profession overviews by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook indicates a recurring theme: industry professionals usually have a bachelor's degree.

A technological education often focuses on a specific job or career with little in the way of peripheral courses, although some technology degree programs may include courses from the liberal arts as a requirement for graduation. Technology programs may also combine practical, real-world job experiences along with the classroom education during the program to prepare students for what they could be doing following graduation

What technical skills do you need for the technology industry?

Technology occupations tend to primarily encompass the STEM professions, or those that have a strong emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. As a result, technology professions are not for everyone. Individuals who enjoy working with both their hands and their minds in a fast-paced environment fixing or correcting problems as they occur may do well in a technology profession.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a list of beneficial qualities for individuals interested in employment in various technological fields, which includes the following:

  • Analytical skills
  • Computer skills
  • Multitasking skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Technical skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Math skills

In addition to the above qualities, security analysts, database administrators, electrical engineers and software developers also tend to possess the following characteristics:

  • Passion for learning
  • Ingenuity
  • Creativity
  • Ability to work well as part of a team
  • Leadership skills
  • Communication and speaking skills

Additionally, some technology professions may require long-distance travel or travel to remote locations as part of their employees' standard job duties. If you can remain focused and on task while also being creative, don't mind an occasional jaunt to a remote location or working with your hands, an education focusing in technology could be a beneficial investment that could potentially lead to a rewarding career.

Focused learning for specific technologies

As professions, electrical engineering and website development do not share much in common -- website developers must understand HTML coding, Java, and WebDev, while electrical engineers need to understand electrical circuit theory and digital systems; thus, they are not taught together.

A game designer's tools of the trade can include physics engines such as Havok, Box2D and PhysX, which are used to create games with water, smoke or the simple physics found in games such as Angry Birds. These tools can be difficult to learn, and the licensing fees for programs may be cost-prohibitive for those studying independently.

While some students may worry that such a singular focus on a career-oriented education could limit their employment opportunities outside of their vocation, the fact remains that these programs are complex -- the terminal degrees in many of these fields, such as electrical engineering, for example, can take up to five years to complete without prior educational experience.

The focused hands-on training provided by technology schools affords graduates with technology degrees the real-world experiences they would otherwise be unable to get on their own or on the job.

Sources:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Computer Programmers
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Computer Systems Analysts
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Database Administrators
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Information Security Analysts, Web Developers, Computer Network Architects
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Software Developers

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