IT, Engineering Job Seekers Tend to be Older, Educated
By Kate Hawley
IT and engineering are fields with a heavy emphasis on innovation: new technologies, new methods, new strategies for solving complex technical and logistical problems.
It might seem plausible that all this newness would attract younger workers, who grew up surrounded by high-tech gadgets and scientific advancements that would have seemed unfathomable even a generation ago. But in IT and especially in engineering, job applicants tended for the most part to be older and more experienced than job seekers in all occupations, according to a large-scale survey conducted by CareerBuilder.com.
From January 2009 through September 2011, CareerBuilder surveyed more than 2.7 million job seekers in numerous occupations, including 45,941 applicants for IT jobs and 64,392 applicants for jobs in engineering.
Compared to the overall pool, engineering applicants were less likely to be younger and more likely to be older. The same held true for IT applicants, with a few notable exceptions.
Not much disparity was evident for survey respondents between the ages of 35 and 44 (right in the middle of the pack, age-wise): 25 percent of IT applicants fell into this category, as did 22 percent of engineering applicants and 24 percent of applicants in the overall pool.
However, IT workers and engineers made up a greater share of the applicants between the ages of 45 and 54. That category comprised 30 percent of engineering applicants, 29 percent of IT applicants and 26 percent of the overall group.
The margin was even wider in the next-oldest group: 21 percent of engineering applicants were between the ages of 55 and 64, compared to 15 percent for IT and 12 percent for the respondents overall.
By contrast, the IT and engineering applicants made up a much smaller part of the younger age brackets. Six percent of IT applicant and 5 percent of engineering applicants were between the ages of 18 and 24, compared to 12 percent overall.
It's not surprising that relatively few of them fell into this group, since they usually spend those years in college and graduate school. And the IT and engineering applicants were a disproportionately well-educated bunch. Among survey respondents overall, 35 percent had four-year degrees and 10 percent had master's degrees. For IT, 47 percent had four-year degrees and 15 percent had master's degrees. Among engineers, 49 percent had college diplomas and 20 percent had master's degrees.
Engineering and IT applicants were similar in many respects. But the survey showed a few marked differences. In the 25 to 34 age bracket, for example, engineering and IT applicants diverged. This group included just 19 percent of the engineering applicants, but 24 percent of both the IT and general pool of applicants.
Why was a greater percentage of the IT applicants young? Information technology is after all an emerging field, many of whose leaders made millions when they were barely old enough to vote. Mark Zuckerberg comes to mind: the billionaire co-creator of Facebook is only 27.
Along those lines, IT applicants were slightly less likely than the overall pool to have many years of professional experience under their belts. Forty-four percent of them had 20 years or more of full-time work experience, compared to 46 percent for all applicants and 55 percent for engineering applicants.
Copyright 2012 Sologig