CQL of Grand Rapids

Take an IT Skilled Trades Tour with Tom Daldin at CQL in Grand Rapids

Many people associate skilled trades with low paying or dirty jobs, but many skilled trades jobs have evolved into good-paying, sustainable, high-tech career opportunities. Today, skilled trades are some of the most in-demand jobs in Michigan, with more than 8,300 job openings. That number will continue to grow, with more than 6,700 job openings expected every year through 2022. Learn about a career in the IT industry firsthand by watching interviews with professionals in the industry below.

IT Skilled Trades Q&A

Read below for a quick summary of the most viable information from the video!


Question: When did you decide on a career in information technology (IT)?

Answer: My high school had a class that offered a certification in networking, which put me more on the path of working with hardware and desktop troubleshooting. Once I completed that course, I really wanted to learn more. I started taking classes about software development at a community college and eventually earned a degree in computer science.


Question: Would it be better to go to a trade school or a university for IT?

Answer: First it’s important to understand what in IT interests you. There are certain areas where a trade school might be better because it’s more cost-effective, less time intensive and can directly position you in the field you want. Otherwise, if you’re thinking about something that’s broader, a more comprehensive computer science program at a university will give you the core information you need to branch off into something else.


Question: At what point should someone begin their schooling/training to prepare a career in IT?

Answer: You shouldn’t wait until college or a technical school to start learning about IT. There are resources, like Codeacademy and Treehouse Island Inc., where you can learn about coding. Students can also see if a coding club is offered at their school or ask their computer teacher to create a class like that. By starting early, you’ll learn what’s best for you and will be better prepared for a technical school or a university.


Question: What interesting or exciting projects have you worked on?

Answer: Right now I’m working on a project that connects buyers and sellers in Sub-Sahara Africa through a mobile app. The application will enable trade and economic development in parts of the world where people don’t have the opportunities that we enjoy in the United States.


Question: What is exciting about the world of IT?

Answer: When we used to think about IT, it was something that was done as part of a business to help make machines work and process paychecks. Today, IT is in everything and it’s more than just developing software. We’re solving problems. Technology is growing in so many industries and it’s connecting people across the globe at an unprecedented rate.


Question: What is something you think students should know about entering into this field?

Answer: The learning process is ongoing. You can get out of college or a trade school and learn one thing but then it will have suddenly changed to something else. Students interested in this career should seek out any opportunity to learn as much as they can and start as early as they can.


Question: What is the demand like for individuals to fill these careers?

Answer: Today, every industry in the world uses technology and the demand for people who have experience in IT is high. It’s also financially very rewarding. The average median wage of someone in this field is about $67,000 to $80,000, which is higher than the average median wage in Michigan.


Question: What is the work/life balance like for the IT industry?

Answer: One of the advantages of technology is you can work from wherever you are. You might need to concentrate on work from home in the morning. We also have some team members that aren’t even in the same city as us. It’s very flexible and fun.


Question: What kind of changes do you see happening in your field?

Answer: It’s a really interesting time in technology. Right now there is a lot of discussion about the Internet of things. From vehicles to devices in the home, connecting to Internet has become a way of life. That’s a very compelling space to work in and there are a lot challenging questions about developing really cool applications for devices that are also safe for the user so their personal information isn’t accessible.


Question: What types of skills or personal characteristics would help someone succeed in your role?

Answer: The skill that is most relevant is a love of learning and being motivated because not everything about this field is taught in the classroom.


Question: What is your advice to someone considering going into this work?

Answer: If you know what area of IT that you’re interested in, or even if you’re still trying to determine where you want to go, find a local IT company and approach them about doing a tour or ask about job shadowing a professional. You’ll meet with people who work in hardware, design or software development. Internships, paid or unpaid, can also help you build experience and introduce you to people in the industry.


Question: What are the opportunities available to young women or girls interested in a career in IT?

Answer: There are actually fewer women in this industry than there were 30 years ago, which needs to change. We work with girls and young women to promote science and technology curriculum in the schools, as well as show them this is a fulfilling career path.