January 14, 2013, 9:32 AM —
I'm considering going back to school for a degree in computer science. If I do, are there any IT jobs that can be done virtually from home?
In short, the answer to your question is yes, there are many IT related jobs that can be done virtually. If fact, as time moves forward, the list of potential virtual IT jobs is growing dramatically in both type and frequency.
Now for the long answer. I would like to begin with a note of caution because you will be new to the world of IT. Beginning your IT career working virtually can make it very difficult for you to gain a deep understanding of IT including:
• The role of IT within an organization
• Business and IT related processes beyond your specific task
• Technology standards regarding process, documentation, naming conventions, and design methodologies
In addition to the items listed above, when working remotely it’s much more difficult for you to grow professionally because you will have less access to more experienced people who can mentor you both technically and professionally. Even if they don’t take you under their wing and teach you, you will seemingly learn through osmosis simply by being in their presence.
Another big advantage of physically being located with likeminded professionals early in your IT career is that you will more quickly make professional contacts that can:
• Help you with technical problems
• Become professional contacts when you are looking for a new job or work assignment
• Introduce you to new technologies, methodologies, and techniques
Even as a seasoned, well connected, IT professional working remotely you can easily lose touch with the movement of technology and allow your professional contacts to become stale if you are not actively engaged in your technical community.
With all that said, now I’ll answer your specific question regarding what jobs can be done remotely.
It seems that the IT profession is moving ever more quickly to a virtual working environment for a number of reasons including the following:
• IT’s understanding and comfort with using virtual technologies
• The need to find quality and specialized talent
• Cost-based motivations to outsource work to lower compensated parts of the country and the world.
• Company-based initiatives to reduce their physical office space by having employees work remotely
• A company’s willingness to allow employees to work remotely increases their potential talent pool and can reduce attrition
When thinking of IT jobs that can be done remotely, I like to conceptually break them into three categories; Individual Worker, Group Worker, and Group Coordinator.
An Individual Worker is the type of job performing tasks that require no/minimal coordination with others. Examples of these type jobs include:
1. Phone-based customer service
2. Phone-based technical support
3. Documentation writer
4. Software developer (for some types of projects)
5. Production oriented database administrator
A Group Worker is the type of job done individually, but requires ongoing discussions and coordination with others. Examples of these types of jobs include: