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The 10 most demanding jobs in IT

Emerson survey cites roles requiring 'Always-On' availability

By , Network World
June 26, 2012 11:44 AM ET

Network World - 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

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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% 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.

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