In a survey of about 800 IT professionals across the world, Emerson Network Power has ranked the ten most demanding IT jobs, based on time constraints, responsibility and how often they are on call. Of course, having a highly-demanding job doesn't mean the challenges are not rewarding. In fact, the survey notes, many thrive in these positions because of the responsibilities and high-level demands. Emerson Network Power's full report is available for download in PDF format.
Of course, whenever you ask people to rate the challenges or difficulties of their own jobs, it's important to take the resulting data with a pinch of salt. Nevertheless, the results of this survey should be quite interesting, especially if you work in any of these positions or work with those who do.
1. Executive Directors & Administrators
Constantly multitasking and needing to be accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, executive directors and IT administrators usually have the most demanding IT job in an organization. On the other hand, 75 percent of Executive Directors and Administrators feel that the factors determining success or failure are within their own control.
A 2012 CareerCast survey listed executive positions as the 8th most stressful job, far below soldiers, fire fighters and pilots, and just below event coordinators, but above taxi drivers and photojournalists.
2. IT Procurement Specialists
Although the titles vary, ranging from analysts and consultants to supervisors and buyers, those responsible for IT procurement say they must work on their clients' schedules and don't always have the time they need to do their best work. Working through lunch for a pressing deadline, or being available for offices in different time zones mean IT procurement professionals can have a difficult time investing in the research they need to keep up on the latest technologies.
3. Chief Information Officers
As the top IT professional in most organizations, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) is also on call 24/7, including weekends and vacations if there is an emergency. Motivating employees and getting all the oars in an IT department moving in the same direction is on the top of most CIO's list of on-the-job demands.
4. IT Managers & Directors
Few IT managers or directors work strictly from 9 to 5. Equipment maintenance or software migrations are often done overnight or on weekends, meaning the manager must be on hand to ensure everything goes smoothly. The person in this position is usually responsible for the largest share of a company's IT budget and for most of the company's planning. Preparing budgets and planning meetings means a lot of late nights. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 24 percent of IT Managers and Directors as well as CIOs, work more than 50 hours each week.
5. IT Operations Specialists
Whether the business card says technician, analyst, manager or specialist, those in daily IT operations are usually working within stressful deadlines and working into the night troubleshooting problems. There is also a low tolerance for mistakes when networks need to be running flawlessly 24/7 and when one mistake could mean thousands of people without access to data.
6. Data Center Managers
Of data center managers surveyed by Emerson Network Power, 100 percent reported that a high level of intelligence is a prerequisite for this job. In terms of schedules, 70 percent of data center managers reported that they do not control their own schedules, compared to 45 percent of all respondents. Multitasking, availability and quick-response times are hallmarks of this position.
An eye for detail, fast response times, time management and communication skills are just some of the requirements for engineering positions. Of those surveyed by Emerson Network Power, 91 percent said they make a point of reading all messages as soon as they hit the inbox. Over 80 percent either agreed or strongly agreed that others are greatly reliant on them.
8. IT Security Specialists
IT security professionals ranked the highest in the Emerson Network Power survey for the necessity of making important decisions quickly - 89 percent agreed or strongly agreed with this description. More than half of IT security specialists agree that their success depends on things outside of their control, even though they are directly accountable for the security of their company networks.
9. Application/Software Developers
Application developers and software developers are not just responsible for design, but also ensuring software runs correctly. About one third of those surveyed reported that they were not given enough time to do quality work. Over a quarter of developers responded that they were not given the time they needed to properly think through their tasks. Software developers were also ranked as the top job overall in the United States in a 2012 CareerCast survey. Again, like many of these positions, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates about a quarter of software developers work over 40 hours each week.
10. Database Managers
Always on call, always multitasking, a typical day in the life of a database manager involves working under pressure to troubleshoot problems that arise suddenly while trying to finish other projects with deadlines that are just as tight. Over half of the database managers surveyed felt that they did not have enough time to do quality work and nearly half also agreed they did not have enough time to think tasks through properly. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is normal for about a quarter of those responsible for a company's database to work over 40 hours each week.