What the technology sector looks like for students graduating after the pandemic

WACO, TX — As workers around the nation worked remotely due to the pandemic, technology students were able to glimpse what their future careers may look like with online classes.

86 percent of workers in computer and mathematical fields were working remotely due to the pandemic, from Oct. 2020 to April 2021; now only 21 percent of those workers are ready to transition back into an in-person office space, according to a Gallup Poll.

“People working from home have become resilient on high-speed connectivity, which has caused an increase in demand for trained technicians,” said Jim Hogue, lead instructor in Texas State Technical College’s Computer Networking and Systems Administration program in Waco. “While other industries were limited or shut down, computer networking and systems administrators were working harder and were being recruited.”

The median salary for network and computer system administrators in Texas is $82,000, with a heavy concentration of these jobs available in larger metropolitan areas such as Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio, according to U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop website.

For students that are now graduating from college, a help desk is the most likely profession to start off their careers, said Melanie Alberts, an information technology support specialist at Aqua-Chem and a 2017 graduate of TSTC’s Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics Specialist program in Waco.

“Having the ability to interact with someone who isn’t technologically savvy is an essential skill far beyond knowing how to set up a server or configure a new workstation,” Alberts said.

Obtaining professional certificates are further proof in a graduate’s knowledge of their field, according to Alberts. TSTC offers relevant programs and certificates, and is currently continuing registration for the fall semester.

“I have found that most employers are looking for one or more certifications from CompTIA, Microsoft or Cisco,” Alberts said. “Usually it does not matter which certifications, only that the successful candidate has proven that they are willing to continue with some formal learning.”

More than 380,000 network and computer systems administrators will be needed by 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; and the increasing pressure for more workers is due to more demand for experts in cloud computing, the collection and storage of big data, and information security.

Currently there are 200 workers in similar fields in McLennan County, and more than 300 workers in Cameron and Hidalgo counties, according to TSTC.

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