Vertical Limit

Tech workers span the spectrum of industry, from fast food to furniture.

Knowing the future looks bright for our jobs and that growth is possible can be a great comfort. (I once worked for a firm that sold parts for mechanical cash registers; I wouldn’t want to be there anymore.)

For that reason, I’m going to share some interesting data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Eight of 10 of the fastest growing occupations between 2000 and 2010 will be computer related, in this order: software engineers, applications; support specialists; software engineers, systems software; systems administrators; systems and communications analysts; desktop publishers; database administrators; computer systems analysts.

Of course, by sheer number, fields like fast food and customer service will offer more jobs over the decade; but, overall, the 2,825,870 of you in IT will grow to be about 3,900,000 by 2010. (That number also encompasses about 95,000 people who work in the math trades, but it’s small enough that I’ll ignore it.)

What’s just as intriguing to me is examining what industries you work for. According to 2001 numbers for all computer jobs, insurance carriers employ 119,170 of you. Health services has 67,220. Air transportation has hired 14,170 computer specialists. Food stores employ 7,030 of you. Museums and the like employ 1,050 of you. Exactly 210 of you work in the metal mining business.

Drilling down specifically on jobs for network and computer systems administrators, 40 of you work for furniture and fixture companies. A hundred of you work for railroad transportation firms. Another 320 of you work in the real estate field.

In the past I’ve tended to group all network admins as if you do the same job; but the fact is, you probably don’t. I stood in line for a bus at a conference recently and talked to a woman who managed the network for a gravel company in the Midwest. She said their biggest challenge is keeping communications lines open because the blasts and heavy equipment use that took place at all the different quarries played havoc on wire. She came to the conference to seek some pretty specific solutions; an enhanced Active Directory wasn’t going to fix her work-related headaches.

Microsoft has begun tackling some of the largest vertical segments—financial services and healthcare—with specific product lines. I’d like MCP Magazine to start doing the same, but not necessarily just for the biggest segments. The problem is, I don’t know what it is you need to get your jobs done. Would it be useful to get all 250 of you who work for auto dealers and gas station companies together online, on a conference call or in the same room, to share your unique challenges? Is there something unique about the industry you’re in that you don’t think anybody else faces? I’d like to hear about it at [email protected].

And if you’re pondering a move to a new industry, you might want to check out your prospects first with the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can find it online at

About the Author

Dian L. Schaffhauser is a freelance writer based in Northern California.

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