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The 10 biggest perks of working in IT

IT jobs usually entail a lot of stress and frustration. But if you're lucky, they can also provide enough enjoyment to make it all worthwhile.

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.

Other perks?

What other aspects of your IT job make you happy? Do the good things outweigh the bad?

About

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.

19 comments
AmishCake
AmishCake

I get instant great feedback and gratitude, and people think I'm a genius for solving something that is driving them crazy, although it seems small and a "piece of cake" for me. I feel very needed and loved at this job :)

Suresh Mukhi
Suresh Mukhi

4: You have personal freedom Not true where I work. I have fixed hours, I have to clock in and out using our biometric system. I have to have my expenses approved. About decorating my office, I'm not much into that except for having a personal wallpaper on my desktop. :)

CNXTim
CNXTim

I can say that no matter how my day goes, over some 45 years, i have never had a BORING day in IT (nee Business Equipment, Data Processing et al)

ManoaHI
ManoaHI

Similar to @technomom_z I was working at an investment bank. A number of the traders and sales people came from IT. One time I was talking to one of the traders and my boss overheard me talking to the trader in sort of "techno-speak" and I got a slight dressing down a little later, in the middle of it, I had told my boss, that the trader used to do cosmic simulations that he had to program himself so he was a physicist with heavy math and IT background. I got an apology dinner from my boss. When I was in college (getting an accounting and computer science degree) I did some mechanical drawing and some cabling installations. At one place, when we were installing some power cables in their account section. A few users were having a problem with their accounting software, and the manager was yelling at the IT manager. I knew what the problem was, and I know enough accounting to speak to the users in their terms then the accounting manager had calmed down and the told the IT manager to hire me. He did. I worked there for over year until I graduated (I then moved out of the country). It was a great resume entry and paid quite well (I saved enough to make the move).

brianlundell
brianlundell

Although not hired as an IT professional, I have enjoyed the chance to learn Microsoft Access and VBA, which I needed to learn in order to create an application I could use to manage a very large account I was given. I love learning. Recently I was put in charge of our Internet Team, which is intended to watch over and update our company website. I studied Joomla! industriously (and, I might say, without feeling guilty), both at home and at work, so I could learn to make the changes myself instead of having to pay our outside programmer to do it. (Sorry Byron!) Now, I get to learn PHP so I can do it even better. To many people this sounds boring. But I like it!

smiths37
smiths37

I work in IT for a state agency. On the same lines as #5 (helping people), I think it's pretty cool to think about how much of an effect the things I do has on, not only the other people working in this agency, but also the general public. We provide so many services, applications, and so much information to the public and none of that would be possible without the work that I have done here.

edewey
edewey

I work for a local government and serve Admin, Community Development, Public Works, Police, Parks/Recreation, and the Fire Department. Since I've often had to work on an issue for several hours, I do get to see and hear things the general public does not. In particular, it is fun to work in the detectives/investigations center as well as Dispatch/911. I have very good insight, after all these years, into how things work in local government. Still, the best things about IT are independence, very little monotony, and everyone's glad to see me kuz I fix things.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

I know of few other businesses that allow you so much freedom, or so many diverse experiences in different industries.

ellendilmw
ellendilmw

People still think of "IT" as one field but it isn't really (and never had been). There are so many different fields and specialisations within IT that you can stay in the profession and change roles as little or as often as you like if you have the talent and the desire. Since very few roles need truly "formal" qualifications (unlike a doctor, lawyer or engineer), you are only limited by your knowledge and ability. I've been in IT for close to 20 years now, and I've changed roles at least 8 times. I've loved pretty much everything I've done in all of them and each one builds upon the last and enhances the next.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

Some are trying to move forward in computers.

johnm
johnm

Long before the internet, I was checking in at the Disneyland Hotel with my wife of less than a year. They were having trouble with their Western Union equipment for reservations and confirmations. And they were unable to contact the repairman and this was a Friday night and a lot of traffic needed to go out over the wekend. They could receive but not send reliably. I could tell from the sound what the problem was. I offered to fix it if the repairman had left a bottle of machine oil around. He had; I knew where to place the oil, and I got a free upgrade to a suite and a complimentary fruit basket delivered. And it impressed the wife that I actually knew how to do something.

RudHud
RudHud

And colas! And donuts on Friday. Seriously. I know that some IT firms deprive their workers of this fundamental right. But can you imagine some schmo offering you a job with the words, "We pride ourselves on our fine work environment. If you need coffee the snack bar is four stories down, and run by the same people who feed prisoners at the local jail."

yorro.a
yorro.a

Best would be to have admin rights to your own computer with internet freedom. Customize your desktop to your liking and freedom to access "any" information.

GSG
GSG

Yep, If I wasn't in IT, I don't think that I could decorate my office with the 6 themed Mr Potato Heads (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Transformers, and 1 Buzz Lightyear), the 1 ft tall C3P0 and Yoda Pez Dispensers, a pottery dragon egg with claws coming out of the crack, a gumball machine full of ibuprofen, and a giant poster of Russell Crowe (I love Russell Crowe, so sue me). I also like the cool toys we get. I have a collection of branded silly putty, slinkies, stress balls, small kinetic devices, matchbox cars, etc... When co-workers have their kids with them, they come to my office and raid the toy basket.

RockerGeek!
RockerGeek!

It kinda goes w/number 7, but learning! When faced with a challenge, you sometimes need to learn a new troubleshooting method to fix it. Or find a new backdoor. And, while looking for solutions, you are bettering your research skills. Many companies also compensate for new training... upgrading a server 2003 certification to server '08, for example. Not only does it keep you on your toes, but hey, someone else is paying for your classes!

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

At least in my arena of end user support. While the symptoms may be the same in many cases, different people and different circumstances make each call different. Funny you should mention monotony, though. I'm browsing TR because the current call has me reimaging a PC, a multi-hour process for this customer. Rather than watch the bits go by...

technomom_z
technomom_z

I think one of the best things about IT is that you can use it as a springboard into other industries. If you're interested in a field, any field, take your IT job there and learn things from the inside. I learned a ton about television broadcasting, auto manufacturing, and police work by doing very large, enterprise wide solution implementations for companies and governments in those areas. It's a great way to understand what day-to-day work is like and having IT experience means you'll always be valuable should you decide to move into those fields.

TyDavis22
TyDavis22

I work for a school district, don't think I want to be a School Administrator or Teacher, they have to deal with kids all day.

ellendilmw
ellendilmw

If you are willing to pay attention, it's amazing how much industry information you pick up in IT. When I was working in Merchant Banks in the 90s, several people I worked with moved into banking and investment roles. I've seen similar elsewhere. People often forget that IT has access to ALL the information; it just takes paying attention to get better free on the job training than any college could offer.