With close to 900,000 matric students having completed their final exams, it is vital for them to start planning for their future. As with any career, students need to bear in mind how likely it is that they will be employed after completing their studies and whether traditional university is the right path for them.
This is according to Riaz Moola, CEO at tech education company HyperionDev, who said that thanks to the rapid digitisation of almost all aspects of our lives, tech-based careers offer the students of today lucrative opportunities for tomorrow.
“Currently there is a skills gap in the technology sector in South Africa, which is reflected in research by PWC which reveals that 87% of local CEOs are most concerned about this shortage.”
As the school year draws to a close, many matriculants are wondering what to study next year. Moola lists his top five tech careers for matriculants to consider pursuing studying for in 2022:
1. Java Developer
- Average annual salary according to Payscale: R375,315
A Java developer uses the Java language to create high-functioning web applications, software and programs. Java developers have long enjoyed high-ranking status, rated as the number one job of 2021 by the global recruitment website Glassdoor.
“Java is still one of the most popular programming languages in the world, reflecting both the growing demand for experienced Java programmers and the ubiquity of companies using Java for all kinds of tech applications,” said Moola.
The roles and responsibilities of a Java developer will vary greatly depending on the company and specific position, he said.
Typical responsibilities include: Designing, implementing, and maintaining Java applications that are often high-volume and low-latency, required for mission-critical systems, delivering high availability and performance, contributing in all phases of the development lifecycle, writing well-designed, efficient, and testable code to name but a few.
2. Software Engineer
- Average annual salary according to Payscale: R371,699
Software engineers are generalised developers, making all kinds of software to suit a business’s needs. “They have always enjoyed incredible pay, boundless career opportunities and solid job security,” said Moola. “Software engineers are highly agile, thanks to their transferable skills and deep knowledge of one or more programming languages.”
Some of the responsibilities of a software engineer include: analyse user requirements, writing and testing code, refining and rewriting it as necessary, and communicating with any programmers involved in the project.
They will research, design, and write new software programs (e.g. business applications or computer games) and computer operating systems, evaluate the software and systems that make computers and hardware work, and develop existing programs by analysing and identifying areas for modification.
3. Data Scientist / Data Engineer
“Data is the internet’s new gold rush, which is why companies want to understand their core data and key customer insights to unlock more efficient systems and bigger profits,” said Moola. “Data scientists and data engineers are the answer to that better business.”
There are more similarities than differences between data scientists and data engineers, he points out. “A data scientist uses data analysis tools to manage, analyse, understand and draw conclusions from complex data. Data engineers, on the other hand, are responsible for the setting up, maintenance and management of data systems.
“They don’t just know how to work with data, but also understand the systems and processes that this large-scale analysis requires and how to work with these technologies. These two roles share the number three spot due to their international demand and high job security,” said Moola.
A data scientist’s role combines computer science, statistics, and mathematics. They analyze, process, and model data, then interpret the results to create actionable plans for companies and other organisations.
4. Enterprise Architect
- Average annual salary according to Payscale: R867,986
The career of an enterprise architect is one of the best tech jobs in the world because of its combination of staggeringly high pay and huge job opportunities and security, said Moola.
“Enterprise architects typically occupy more senior positions and are responsible for making sure that a company’s business strategy uses the right technology systems to achieve its goals,” he said, adding that this highly technical role makes it a prized career.
An enterprise architect is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of an organisation’s IT networks and services. As an enterprise architect, you would be responsible for overseeing, improving and upgrading enterprise services, software and hardware, Moola said.
5. Full-stack Web Developer
- Average annual salary according to SalaryExpert: R730,841
Full-stack developers have officially passed their single-stream counterparts – front-end and back-end developers- to claim the fifth most desirable tech job in the world. “Full-stack developers work in both front-end and back-end development, building the visuals of websites and applications, as well as the nitty-gritty coding that allows them to work as intended,” said Moola.
“Full-stack developers are highly prized because of this dual specialisation and multi-role capability, making them highly in demand, both locally and internationally.”
A Full-stack Web Developer is responsible for the coding, design and layout of a website according to a company’s specifications. As the role takes into consideration user experience and function, a certain level of both graphic design and computer programming is necessary.
From student to job-ready in a matter of months
Today, students can take advantage of online coding bootcamps which can be viewed as alternative credentials, said Moola.
“They are a fast-paced career accelerator that can quickly land participants a job as a software engineer or data scientist, rather than a traditional university degree which takes years to complete.
“We believe coding should be accessible to everyone, everywhere,” he said. “That’s why we’ve partnered with financial services institutions so that students can finance their coding bootcamp and start their coding journey as soon as possible.”