Entry-level IT jobs can either offer tons of responsibility and upside potential, or they can hammer you with low pay and endless tedium. In the latter case, you’re often left dealing with pushy developers and angry software customers, and the thankless work is never-ending. With that in mind, here’s Dice’s list of the worst entry-level IT jobs for 2015.
Data Entry Technician: “This one is pretty boring, but it still needs to get done,” said Manoj Garg, managing partner of Virtual Information Executives, an IT advisory firm. Data entry technicians must be super detail-oriented, and the work is usually repetitive. If that wasn’t enough, the pay is notably low for IT: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports data entry technicians earned an average of $27,500 in 2012.
Help Desk Technician: You have to start somewhere, and if you don’t have a computer science degree yet, you might enter the IT field as a help desk technician. According to the Dice Tech Salary Survey, help desk jobs paid an average of $42,512 in 2013, a drop of 3.8 percent from the prior year. “Given all of the work, the pay is low,” Garg said. “The employee has to think on their feet, all the while talking on the phone with irate IT customers, and solving their problems as quickly as possible.” It’s also a role that’s not your typical 9-to-5, so you might be working long hours and late nights.
IT Tech Support Specialist: If you’re working in IT tech support, you need to be a jack-of-all-trades. The role involves everything from server and desktop maintenance to installing desktop computers, laptops, printers, and all software. It’s often a thankless job with relatively low pay despite the amount of work; The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average salary as $48,900 in 2012. Long and odd hours are also pretty common, said Jordan Goldmeier, CEO for Cambia Factor, a data-consulting agency. There’s also the need to deal with anxious and angry people who want their hardware and software issues resolved quickly. Yay.
Data Migration Specialist: Data conversion from legacy systems is hard work, often fraught with cost overruns, delays, and the inevitable angry boss, Goldmeier said. About one-third of all data migration projects will go past deadline and overbudget, according to Bloor Research. The job can be quite overwhelming, so you’ll have to work hard to not get pigeonholed if you want to eventually move beyond data migration; salary can fluctuate, depending on whether or not data migration is a part of other enterprise resource planning work.
Junior QA Tester: QA tester is a common job in software engineering departments, and a critical part of a software team. But developers tend to get the attention and respect, while entry-level QA testers work furiously in the background. Goldmeierreceived an offer for an entry-level QA tester position while still in college; the job manager told him that it was so easy that “a trained monkey could do it.” He also warned Goldmeier that, as he got better at testing the code, he would have to deal with the egos of the folks who wrote it. But at least there’s job mobility and more recognition as you move up the ranks: In the most recent Dice survey, QA testers earned an average of $75,444 in 2013.