A host of tech jobs rank high for work-life balance and job satisfaction. Others, though, place tough demands on workers in terms of time constraints, responsibilities, and how often employees are on call.
Whenever you ask people to rate the challenges or difficulties of their jobs, you need to take the responses with a pinch of salt. However, you can get an overall impression of what it takes to work in certain positions. Here are the top 10 most demanding jobs in tech based on surveys by Emerson Network Power and CareerCast.
The surveys take into account leadership, on-call time, travel, physical demands, and multitasking, to name a few. Results are in no particular order.
- Chief Information Officers: As the top IT professional in most organizations, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) must be available at all times. That includes weekends and vacations so that they can handle emergencies. Motivating employees and building a strong IT department is on the top of most CIO's list of on-the-job demands.
- IT Procurement Specialists: The titles vary, ranging from analysts and consultants to supervisors and buyers. Those responsible for IT procurement say they must work to their clients' schedules and don't always have time to do their best work. Moreover, tight schedules leave little opportunity to research the latest technologies.
- IT Managers & Directors: Few IT managers or directors work from 9 to 5. Equipment maintenance or software migrations are often done overnight or on weekends. Managers must be on hand to ensure problem-free outcomes. The person in this position is often responsible for the largest share of a company's IT budget and for most of the company's planning. Budget preparation and meetings mean a lot of late nights. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found approximately 24 percent of IT managers, directors, and CIOs work more than 50 hours each week.
- Operations Specialists: Their business cards may say, technician, analyst, manager or specialist. Regardless, those in daily IT operations work with restrictive deadlines and troubleshoot problems late into the night. Mistakes aren’t tolerated -- networks need to run around the clock, and a single oversight could leave thousands of people without access to data.
- Software Engineers: Software engineers need to meet tight project deadlines. Work must fulfill both client and company expectations for new products and services. And like many jobs in tech, a lack of talent in the job market adds to the pressure on current workers. Demand for the position is forecast to grow 17 percent by 2024.
- Application/Software Developers: Application developers and software developers handle more than design. They make sure software runs without errors and functions as it should. Around one-third of developers surveyed reported they didn't have sufficient time to do quality work. Over a quarter couldn’t plan tasks because of time limitations.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a quarter of software developers work over 40 hours each week.
- Database Managers: Always on call and always working on several tasks at once, a typical day in the life of a database manager involves working under pressure to troubleshoot problems as soon as possible. Then they have to finish other projects with deadlines just as tight. Database managers often feel they don’t have enough time to produce the best results or analyze tasks.
- Web Developer: The most stressful tech job on CareerCast's list was for web developers. The job is expected to grow 27 percent by 2024. That’s much faster than average, so skilled developers have to meet skyrocketing demand. Working on different projects at the same time is not unusual. The job has its rewards, though, with one SkilledUp survey reporting 88 percent of web developers are satisfied with their jobs.
- Network Administrator: Systems and networks carry any company, and as businesses grow, networks become larger and more complex. Demand for network admins is on the rise as firms invest in better systems. Network administrators need to have excellent communication skills to relay information to other teams. They are available 24/7 to handle emergencies, and they must be able to multitask and remain calm in high-stress situations.
- IT Security Specialists: IT security professionals ranked the highest in the Emerson Network Power survey because they need to make important decisions on the spot -- 89 percent agree or strongly agree with this description. More than half of IT security specialists believe their success depends on things outside their control. However, they are directly accountable for the security of company networks.
A job in a demanding position doesn’t mean rewards diminish. Many thrive in these positions because of their responsibilities, and they score job satisfaction high in surveys. Experts enjoy the challenge and want to put their skills to the test. If you’re on a specific career path or plan to take up a new role, gather relevant information on what’s required of someone in that position.
This article has since been updated by Laurence Bradford.