There exists a striking gap in the reputation of IT & Technology as a fulfilling sector to work in, between industry insiders and workers outside the industry, according to a survey of IT professionals carried out by specialist recruiter, Randstad Technologies.

When asked which industry they thought would have the highest job satisfaction, the most popular choice for IT workers was their own, with one in seven (14%) workers identifying IT & Technology as the most fulfilling industry to work in. 

The results stood in stark contrast to those of the general population who were surveyed as part of the 2014 Randstad Fulfilment@Work Report.  By far the largest portion of the general population (23%) said a career in health or care would be the most professionally fulfilling.  Just 5% of the British public said working in the IT and Technology sector would be the most fulfilling career.

What do you think is the most fulfilling sector to work in?

  • Health and Care (including: Doctors, Nurses, + Social Workers): [a] 23%, [b] 14%
  • Arts, Entertainment and Publishing: [a] 12%, [b] 12%
  • Education: [a] 11%, [b] 6%
  • Public Sector – other (excluding: Health, Care, and Education): [a] 10%, [b] 7%
  • Professional services (Accountancy, Law etc.): [a] 7%, [b] 7%
  • Engineering and Manufacturing: [a] 6%, [b] 13%
  • Telecoms, Media, and Technology: [a] 5%, [b] 14%
  • Hospitality, Leisure and Hotels: [a] 5%, [b] 6%
  • Financial Services, Banking, Investment + Fund Management (excluding accountancy): [a] 4%, [b] 6%
  • Support Services and Administration : [a] 4%, [b] 5%
  • Fashion, Retail and Wholesale: [a] 4%, [b] 4%
  • Construction, Building and Property, [a] 3%, [b] 1%
  • Transport: [a] 2%, [b] 1%
  • Utilities, Water, Mining, Oil and Gas: [a] 2%, [b] 0%
  • Food and FMCG: [a] 2%, [b] 1%
  • Tobacco: [a] 0%, [b] 2%

 [a] General population, [b] IT employees

Mike Beresford, MD of Randstad Technologies, said: “The IT & Technology sector is still to shake the stereotype of being an unfulfilling sector to work in. But workers on the inside of the profession know IT is constantly throwing up new challenges and opportunities for professionals within the trade. It is, after all, one of the fastest evolving industries of the 21st century.

"Never a dull day within the industry, tech employees are constantly extending their skill set to adapt to new innovations, and much of the work involves problem solving, rather than simply tapping away on a keyboard. And as technology invades all aspects of life, what was once seen as a backroom career is coming to the forefront of business.

"IT workers have an incredible impact on our day-to-day life, liaising with and learning from all sorts of professions – it is an incredibly varied career. And the finally cherry on the cake, the industry is booming at the moment, with Project Managers, Developers and Intelligence and Data specialists particularly sought after.”

Length of tenure

While British employees said they could work in the same industry for 13.9 years before their professional fulfilment suffered, IT professionals said they felt could last 17.0 years – the longest tenure of every industry.

Tech employers must be doing something right – IT and Tech professionals said they could work for the same employer for 15.5 years before starting to feel unfulfilled, much higher than the UK average (12.2 years) and dwarfing the tenure quoted by industries traditionally seen as being more vocational like Social Work (7.7 years) and Education (12.5 years).

Mike Beresford added: “Professionals working in the IT & Technology sector say they could work for the same employer for almost 16 years before becoming less fulfilled. I think that’s a credit to the industry and to its employers. It also chimes with our experience. It’s no coincidence that tech firms have a reputation for creating fun and innovative company cultures, and that IT workers feel they could stay longer in a role without getting restless.

"A great office atmosphere is often complemented by excellent prospects for progression. We often help job seekers enter a firm in one role and see them rapidly progress through the ranks and into new areas. This is a dynamic industry with exceptional talent management and strategic human resources planning, meaning that companies work hard to retain, reward and develop successful employees.”

IT workers are right to be optimistic about the length of time they can work in a profession. On average, people who described themselves as fulfilled have worked in their chosen profession 9.8 years. But, people who described themselves as unfulfilled had worked, on average, in their chosen profession 8.9 years.  

And employees who describe themselves as very fulfilled had worked in their chosen profession 10.6 years.  But those who described themselves as very unfulfilled had worked in their chosen profession just 8.1 years.

How long have you been working in your current profession?

  • Very fulfilled: 10.6
  • Fulfilled (total): 10.1
  • Unfulfilled (total): 8.9
  • Very unfulfilled: 8.1

"increasing maturity and work experience lead employees to adjust their ambitions and work expectations to a more realistic level"

Mike Beresford concluded: “Academics have found that job satisfaction drops within the first year of work and remains low for a number of years, after which it increases. They have argued that, initially, high work expectations were not fulfilled, with a resultant drop in job satisfaction.

"Increasing maturity and work experience lead employees to adjust their ambitions and work expectations to a more realistic level; these new expectations were more attainable and satisfaction tended to increase. There might be something in that. But we also think that people get better at what they do and enjoy it more as a result.

"On top of that, they’re likely to be earning more money, and to have built up stronger relationships within their chosen industry, as well as having made their way up the food chain to some sort of position of power – there does seem to be a correlation between how long you have worked in an industry and how fulfilled you are.

"While this research doesn’t disprove the seven-year itch, it does suggest that if you overcome that barrier, after eleven years in an industry you can expect to be job satisfaction rich.”