Regardless of what you do for a living, it's easy to focus on the negatives of the job and let those things bring you down. However, most jobs have certain perks, and IT is no exception. This article discusses some of the benefits I've experienced over the years as a result of working in IT.
1: You get to meet lots of people
One of my absolute favorite things about working in IT is that you get to meet so many interesting people. Back in the mid-90s, for example, I worked for a large insurance company with about 1,000 users. I can honestly say that I knew most of those users on a first-name basis. Better still, even though I left the company about 15 years ago, some of the people I met there are still my best friends to this day.
Without a doubt, the greatest benefit that came from getting to know so many people was that I met my wife of 17 years as a direct result of working in IT. She was working in the marketing department at the time, and I met her because she called me to fix her printer.
2: The money can be good
Even though IT will probably never be the way that it was during the dot-com boom, IT does tend to pay better-than-average salaries. Of course, the pay level varies considerably from one company to the next and from one position to the next.
3: It's easy to move around
One thing I have always noticed about IT is that it is relatively easy to move around. I have known plenty of IT pros who got bored with their position and switched to a different IT specialty with minimal effort. For instance, I have known network administrators who became database administrators and software developers who became network administrators.
4: You have personal freedom
IT pros tend to have a lot of personal freedom. I will be the first to admit that corporate culture can vary considerably from one organization to the next and that some organizations are more permissive than others. Even so, I can't remember anyone ever making me punch a time clock or stick to a rigid break schedule. Most of the IT jobs I have had have allowed me to set my own hours and even work from home when I wanted to (within reason). Likewise, I have always had total freedom to decorate my office anyway I wanted.
5: You get to help people
Another great thing about working in IT is that you get to help a lot of people. Some people hate IT because they're usually calling with a problem they want you to solve. Even so, I have always found it gratifying to be able to end the day knowing that I was able to spend it helping people.
6: You get paid to spend time away from the office
This may not apply to everybody, but one thing I have always enjoyed immensely about IT is the travel. The very nature of the job means that you constantly have to learn new things and oftentimes, this means traveling to training classes and technical conferences.
Although I do confess to being a travel junkie, there is also something very cool about being away from the office for a few days without having to burn up any of your vacation time. What's even better is that technology conferences tend to be held in places where there are plenty of things to see and do after hours.
7: You sometimes face unusual challenges
Few things in life bring me down faster than monotony. While every job has some amount of repetition, IT has the unique advantage of requiring creative solutions to unusual problems. There is definitely something to be said for being challenged once in a while.
8: You have access to cool toys
A definite perk of working in IT is having access to cool toys. Just yesterday, for example, I had to spend several hours in a hospital waiting room, so I got some work done using my Windows 8 tablet. While doing so, several people stopped to ask me where I got the tablet, since Windows 8 won't be out until sometime next year.
The same basic concept has always held true regardless of the hot technology of the moment. Back in the 90s, I remember using a flatbed scanner to copy pictures for my friends at a time when none of them had ever even heard of a scanner.
9: IT knowledge can be helpful in everyday life
Although perhaps not a job perk, IT knowledge can definitely be helpful in everyday life. For example, there was a time long, long ago when the network cabling standard of choice was coaxial Ethernet. I spent one entire summer pulling coaxial cable and attaching cable ends. At the time, I hated the job. But even though nobody uses coaxial Ethernet anymore, the knowledge I gained installing all that cable came in handy just last week.
My next-door neighbors had some carpet installed. The installer accidentally cut their satellite cable. The cable used by satellite dishes is similar to what was used for Ethernet so long ago. Since I still have my tools, I was able to repair the cable for them, so they didn't have to wait a week and pay for a service call from the satellite company.
10: The job sometimes comes with special rewards
Earlier, I mentioned that one of the great things about working in IT is that you get to help people. Sometimes, people who you help are so grateful that they provide a special reward. Over the years, I have had clients send me various gifts as a way of saying thank-you for helping them out in a pinch. When I worked for the military, some of the people I helped even thanked me by taking me for joy rides in tanks and helicopters.
Don't get me wrong — I don't help people because I expect to get something in return. However, it is always a nice feeling when someone surprises you with a thank-you gift.
What other aspects of your IT job make you happy? Do the good things outweigh the bad?
Brien Posey is a seven-time Microsoft MVP. He has written thousands of articles and written or contributed to dozens of books on a variety of IT subjects.