Survey Reveals Top 10 Most 'Always-On' IT Jobs

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2012-07-22 Print this article Print

Emerson Network Power research project ranks IT job classifications as to which ones are the most demanding on a 24/7 basis. On average, IT professionals are required to be available to work 119 hours in each 168-hour week.

Exactly how demanding is your IT position, in the opinion of your peers? Certainly a statement like that one is hard to qualify at best, but wouldn't you be a smidgen curious to know where you rank on the IT job difficulty scale?

Well, Emerson Network Power, which makes physical and software infrastructure for data centers, was interested in this. So it recently sanctioned a research team, and it came back with "The Most Always-On IT Jobs," a report specifying what it contends are the most demanding IT jobs in the industry.

The report is based on a survey of nearly 800 IT professionals in Asia, Europe, Latin America and the United States that sought to determine the degree to which they have to be always available, always working at peak capacity and always accurate. They represent 17 work roles in 18 industries.

People as "Always-On" as Data Centers

It is expected that technology, like smart phones and Websites, will be "always-on" and available 24/7 in this hyper-connected world. But what about the people who support that technology? Do they have to be "always-on" as well? Are some more "always-on" than others?

Respondents confirmed the notion that IT professionals must be as "always-on" as the data center. When asked to describe an "always-on" situation, typical comments were: "I have to be on, the same way the system is required to run 24 hours every day;" and "There are strict timelines to finish projects while still working to put out fires."

"IT professionals need to be smart, flexible and quick€”a lot like the technology they work to support," said Blake Carlson, vice president of the IT Business Segment, Avocent Products & Services at Emerson Network Power. "They must be able to handle multiple tasks at once and figure out how to get things done with limited or inadequate resources. In my experience, IT professionals are a breed apart."

Overall, the study found that all IT jobs are highly "always-on," averaging a score of 71 on a 0- to 100-point always-on scale. On average, IT professionals also are required to be available to work 119 hours in each 168-hour week. As one might expect, the higher level the job, the more "always-on" availability is required.

Top 10 "Always-On" Jobs Ranking

Respondents in the survey ranked the top 10 most "always-on" IT jobs as the following, in order:

1. executive director/administrator;

2. IT procurement;

3. CIO;

4. IT manager/director;

5. IT operations;

6. data center manager;

7. engineering;

8. IT security;

9. applications/software development; and

10. database management

IT pros in the No. 1 slot have the job titles administrator, leader, department head and director, the survey reported. Only 25 percent agree or strongly agreed that success depends on things out of their control. As one director said: "I must always be available for any emergency, on alert and pushing the limit so we can deliver results to our clients."

The requirement of continuous availability was common among the group. One respondent summed it up: "Always there, always there, always there."

The online survey was conducted in February. For more details, you can download the report here.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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