How to DIY a tech career to suit your passion

Career in information technology

Interested in IT but not sure if it fits with your other passions? Read this first to discover how you can use tech skills and qualifications to build your dream career.

What comes to mind when you think about a career in Information Technology (IT)? Working at a service desk? Coding in the basement? Do the characters from The IT Crowd pop into your head?

Well, we have to ask: have you tried turning your preconceptions off and on again? Because it sounds like you need to reboot what you think about careers in technology.

Associate Professor Butler - Career in Information Technology
Associate Professor Matthew Butler, Deputy Dean (Education) from Monash University’s Faculty of IT.

“The stereotype of the super techy IT ‘nerds’ has been around since the 80s. Maybe there was some truth to it then, but those days are gone,” says Associate Professor Matthew Butler, Deputy Dean (Education) from Monash University’s Faculty of IT.

With technology so pervasive, the demand for skills is also huge. According to the 2021 ACS Digital Pulse Report, only 7,000 students graduated with an IT degree in 2019, but Australia will need about 60,000 IT workers in the next five years. You don’t have to be a math genius to see that those numbers don’t add up!

Part of this massive skills shortage probably comes from these persistent stereotypes that make too many people think IT careers aren’t for them – but the opposite is true. The tech sector needs people as diverse as the users they’re building tech for, and that means you.

“You can learn the fundamentals of IT and use that to innovate in another area, whether that’s in business, science or the humanities,” says Associate Professor Butler.

Build your own IT career

One way to find your niche in the tech sector is to build a unique set of qualifications and skills, to prepare you for the jobs of tomorrow, and for a future career that suits you down to the ground.

For example, Monash University’s Faculty of IT offers two course approaches for its undergraduate degrees: comprehensive (such as the Bachelor of IT) and specialist (Bachelor of Computer Science). While both give prospective students the same access to the university’s impressive IT facilities and teaching expertise, they mean you can choose a path that most suits you.

Unsure exactly where you want your degree to take you? A ‘comprehensive’ degree means you can study a range of subjects in your first year before choosing from the long list of majors (covering cool areas like Games Development, Data Science or Cybersecurity). Or if you are keen on a specific career path, the ‘specialist’ approach allows you to concentrate on one particular area of study from the start.

Make it a double

Another way to DIY your dream tech career is to choose a double degree to combine tech with another area of interest or passion, resulting in a truly bespoke set of qualifications. 

For example, at Monash you can combine a Bachelor of IT with a second degree in Commerce, Business, Fine Art, Criminology, Global Studies or Law, just to name a few! 

“Double degrees are increasingly where it’s at. The days are gone when IT was looked at in isolation. IT is seen as an enabler or to lead innovation in other industries,” says Associate Professor Butler.

And he stresses that you don’t need to be a coding whizz in high school to consider this study or career path.

“We don’t expect students to be bringing in a wealth of experience with tech in the degree. What we want them to bring is enthusiasm and a passion for how they want to use technology to innovate.”

This article was produced in partnership with Monash University Faculty of IT and originally appears in Careers with STEM: Technology 2021. 

Gemma Chilton

Author: Gemma Chilton

Gemma is the Managing Editor of Careers with STEM magazine. She has previously worked as Digital Managing Editor at Australian Geographic and a staff writer at Cosmos science magazine.

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