The 10 most demanding jobs in IT

What are the 10 most demanding jobs in IT?

Well, according to a survey by Emerson Network Power, a provider of high-availability data center infrastructure management products, they are:

1. Executive director/administrator

2. IT procurement

3. CIO

4. IT manager/director

5. IT operations

6. Data center manager

7. Engineering

8. IT security

9. Applications/software development

10. Database management

Emerson surveyed 800 IT professionals from four regions — the U.S., Asia, Europe and Latin America — representing 17 work roles and 18 industries, at businesses ranging from 50 to more than 10,000 employees. Most questions were designed to gauge who and what role in IT was “Always-On” — a reference to Emerson’s business in power supplies — and used an agreement scale ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree.

There we three open-ended questions:

How many hours per week do you work at your IT job? Include paid and unpaid hours.

What are the most demanding aspects of your IT job?

• Please describe one or two situations that best illustrate how your IT job requires you to be Always-On: always available, always working at peak capacity and always accurate.

Respondents at the executive director/administrator level — including administrator, leader, department head and director — have hands-on involvement in every aspect of IT: strategic, operational and tactical. All say they work on many projects at once, and that their work requires a high level of intelligence. Only 25 per cent agree or strongly agree that success depends on things out of their control; that they are accountable for success, and that translates into high job demands, the Emerson survey found.

IT procurement officials identified themselves as analysts, buyers, representatives, supervisors, consultants, directors and other leaders. More than half of respondents say they don’t have control over their schedules and don’t have time to do quality work. They indicate multiple pressures: urgency, demanding clients often in different international time zones, staying up on the latest equipment and filling pressing staffing needs.

CIO scores highest on “dependencies and multi-tasking,” according to the Emerson survey. Responses show particularly high requirements to work on many projects at once and make important decisions quickly, and those decisions can be required any time. Other respondents say they have to be available to take emergency calls and have been tracked down even on vacation.

Demands of the job also include motivating and orchestrating the work of others. CIOs also indicate more than did any other IT role that they are responsible for a large part of the company’s budget.

IT manager/director might be called on to put out fires or do routine work at any time, including nights and weekends, the survey found. Respondents say demands include juggling several projects at once, solving problems quickly and working at peak capacity at all times.

Respondents also say they have responsibility for a large portion of the company’s budget and for leading the meetings they are in.

IT operations personnel include technician, manager, analyst, operator and specialist. They report working on high-stress projects with constant time pressure and responding to after-hours incidents, the Emerson survey found.

Data center managers were in the top three for “dependencies/multi-tasking,” the top four for “availability” and the top five for “quick response.” They also scored more than 30 per cent higher than average in agreeing they don’t control their own schedule — 70 per cent for data center managers compared to 45 per cent on average.

Job demands and responsibilities include working fast, handling confidential information, troubleshooting, managing budgets, hardware maintenance and “everything,” the Emerson survey found.

Engineers scored high in “dependencies, “multi-tasking” and “quick response.” More than 80% agree or strongly agree that others depend on their work a great deal, 91 per cent say they immediately read all messages received and 86 per cent quickly respond to all inquiries. Thirty percent of the respondents work for consulting engineering companies, and “perfection” was cited as one of the job demands.

Making emergency decisions is noted as a typical demand of the IT security group. Eighty-nine percent of the security respondents agree or strongly agree they make important decisions quickly — the highest score of all the IT roles.

But this group also scores lowest on quick response, the Emerson survey found. Sixty-one per cent agree or strongly agree they quickly respond to all inquiries, but the average across the top 10 Always-On jobs is 76 per cent. More than half of IT security respondents say that success depends on things out of their control.

Application and software developers are apparently able to concentrate on their work more than others. One-third or less report having no time for quality work and no time to think things through.

This group scores highest in quick response, though, the Emerson survey found. Eighty-seven percent of respondents say that others depend on their work a great deal; and job demands include developing new applications for the workplace or industry, some involving highly complex issues.

Database managers have a similar profile to application/software developers: 87 per cent say others depend on their work a great deal, but 58 per cent say they have no time for quality work and 47 per cent say they have no time to think things through.

Those responses are consistent with the demands of the job, the Emerson survey concludes, which include working under pressure while troubleshooting various issues on a daily basis, often under tight project deadlines.

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