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Most data center workers happy with their jobs — despite the heavy demands

News Analysis
Apr 18, 20193 mins
CareersData Center

An Informa Engage and Data Center Knowledge survey finds data center workers are content with their jobs, so much so they would encourage their children to go into that line of work.

data center
Credit: Thinkstock

A survey conducted by Informa Engage and Data Center Knowledge finds data center workers overall are content with their job, so much so they would encourage their children to go into that line of work despite the heavy demands on time and their brain.

Overall satisfaction is pretty good, with 72% of respondents generally agreeing with the statement “I love my current job,” while a third strongly agreed. And 75% agreed with the statement, “If my child, niece or nephew asked, I’d recommend getting into IT.”

And there is a feeling of significance among data center workers, with 88% saying they feel they are very important to the success of their employer.

That’s despite some challenges, not the least of which is a skills and certification shortage. Survey respondents cite a lack of skills as the biggest area of concern. Only 56% felt they had the training necessary to do their job, and 74% said they had been in the IT industry for more than a decade.

The industry offers certification programs, every major IT hardware provider has them, but 61% said they have not completed or renewed certificates in the past 12 months. There are several reasons why.

A third (34%) said it was due to a lack of a training budget at their organization, while 24% cited a lack of time, 16% said management doesn’t see a need for training, and 16% cited no training plans within their workplace.

That doesn’t surprise me, since tech is one of the most open industries in the world where you can find training or educational materials and teach yourself. It’s already established that many coders are self-taught, including industry giants Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, John Carmack, and Jack Dorsey.

Data center workers’ salaries

Data center workers can’t complain about the pay. Well, most can’t, as 50% make $100,000 per year or more, but 11% make less than $40,000. Two-thirds of those surveyed are in the U.S., so those on the low end might be outside the country.

There was one notable discrepancy. Steve Brown, managing director of London-based Datacenter People, noted that software engineers get paid a lot better than the hardware people.

“The software engineering side of the data center is comparable to the highest-earning professions,” Brown said in the report. “On the physical infrastructure — the mechanical/electrical side — it’s not quite the case. It’s more equivalent to mid-level management.”

Data center professionals still predominantly male

The least surprising finding? Nine out of 10 survey respondents were male. The industry is bending over backwards to fix the gender imbalance, but so far nothing has changed.

The conclusion of the report is a bit ominous, but I also think is wrong:

“As data center infrastructure completes its transition to a cloud computing model, and software moves into containers and microservices, the remaining, treasured leaders of the data center workforce — people who acquired their skills in the 20th century — may find themselves with nothing recognizable they can manage and no-one to lead. We may be shocked when the crisis finally hits, but we won’t be able to say we weren’t warned.”

How many times do I have to say it, the data center is not going away.

Andy Patrizio is a freelance journalist based in southern California who has covered the computer industry for 20 years and has built every x86 PC he’s ever owned, laptops not included.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ITworld, Network World, its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.

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