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Alternative careers for IT professionals after a layoff

How companies can handle layoffs betterThe wound is fresh. The recent developments of America’s need to stay in-bred, and the boom in automation of digital services, has already started showing its effect on the IT industry, in India.

Recently, a spokesperson for one of the IT giants, Cognizant, announced the likelihood of laying off over 2% of its current workforce. According to a report by HFS Research, India is looking at a rather grim future in the low skilled IT and BPO positions with a potential loss of 6.4 lakh (28%) workers by 2021, to automation support and back-office support.

While there will also likely be more jobs created as a result of automation. About 14% growth is expected taking the net hit down to about 4.8 lakh job losses. Now that does look like horror – the age of digital disruption.

It is possible that there might still be a ray of hope, as a study by WEF (World Economic Forum) suggests that by 2020, the IT sector might have a stable employment outlook (decreasing nominally by about 0.38%). However traditional IT work does run the risk of a fall, with data analytics and cloud computing stealing the show.

The other hammer stroke, to the nail in IT coffin, has come after stricter implementation of US Immigration rules preventing the Level 1, low skilled software engineers, from entering the country with an H1B. Well, that takes away one of the major incentives of keeping large masses of employees, for the occasional revenue making trips abroad.

And yes, that means more potential job losses, with some of the tech giant spokespersons already rehearsing their get-away speeches. But where does that leave all the IT employees, the software engineers, network admins, and more, with the sword hanging over their head? The answer is unfortunately unknown. But one thing is clear, if you are fearing an impact in your career then you should have a plan B. Some of these may be intuitive, venturing not too far from your comfort zone, while others may just surprise you.

So let’s get the back up done. Read How to get hired after getting fired.

Second Careers for IT professionals in technology

The current picture of IT jobs is changing. Well it had to change, as with time any industry does, taking on more cost effective solutions to their operations. But with such changes, jobs of mid and low skilled IT employees become subject to whether they are able to make themselves relevant to the changing demands, from the more traditional roles. The WEF study predicts that there will be high demand in processing power data analytics, mobile internet and cloud computing, and IoT (Internet of Things). These will see a growth of 34%, 26% and 14% in the global market, respectively. Specifically, in the Information and Communication Technology Industry, they will impact by a massive share of 44%, 69% and 33%, in the same order.

As far as the more relevant metric, for us mere mortal employees, they will bring in an increase in effective employment by 2.95%, 2.47% and 2.27%, again staying true to the order of things!

Processing power, and big data analytics, deal with realizing the potential of the immense amount of data generated by technological advances in virtually every sector. Mobile and cloud technology will enable any business, public or private, to become effective in their functioning, with lower costs, higher processing power, while using the ever cheapening internet. And finally the IoT will enable communication, for any process or business, over a network – fast and cheap.

The other avenue to keep an eye out for would be in ITO services with skills relevant, but more technical, than the traditional BPO services.

It would be a wise move to make use of available resources around to equip yourselves with the specialities of tomorrow. Open source MOOCs are a ready option for a quick education. There is very little reason, if any, left to solely rely on your traditional engineering courses for the tools to handle industry wide changes. The idea is to keep up with relevant trends, if you want to stay relevant at all. Read Career in Information Technology.

New Careers in the somewhat ITish avenues

IT is not a binding industry. You will probably have enough technical experience, along with other corporate required skills, to do a soft transfer to other roles. The best part of being, or having been, a software engineer is your literacy with technology. That technology is here to stay for a long long time to come. It then comes down to simply finding ways to squeeze your way in with a trick-bag and make a living, probably not in an Infosys or a Wipro, but instead in other sectors with geeks in demand.

Technical Writing

Trust yourself to write more than codes? Well then try jobs that require specialized people who can draft documents in semi-jargon lingo making a rather hard core technical document comprehensible to clients. These materials range from manuals, journals, corporate white papers, patents, business plans and more. Their career trajectories obviously depend on their work volume, and exposure, with average salaries in the range of 4.5 lakhs per annum (Payscale). And the icing on the cake is that you get to decide whether you would like to be associated with one organization or be your own boss in a freelance setting. Now how does that play after years of IT slaving?

Game Programming

What can we say, this one is like All play, and possibly some work, makes Jack a smart guy!

Game programming requires software engineering skills, with additional skills of computer simulations, graphics, network, physics and other goodies. You can start with following designer instructions or slowly get involved in designing games yourself. With salaries on the north side of 5 lakhs per annum (Payscale), it certainly ain’t a bad way to make money. And if you graduate to designing, you can certainly be taking in more each pay day.


Getting back to school, or part time to school, for an MBA is certainly an option. A Project Management certification will be a desirable feather to add. It will enable you to use your IT knowledge and switch to management roles overseeing IT projects from inception to conclusion. You can also act as the technical public face to interact with clients. You will be able to integrate time, cost, quality, risk, communications, and more, within your management role. Salaries are hefty, averaging at over 1.3 Cr annually (Payscale). The certification is fairly straightforward and can be gained through Prometric, or other reputed certifying agencies. Just beware of scammers charging you thousands for a piece of paper. Read IT Project Manager – Role and other information.

Software Quality Analyst

If you have sufficient software knowledge, you can even take on a role serving as a quality assurance inspector verifying software integrity through its development cycle. As anything else, there is a Cert for that. A certified software quality analyst (DQS Certification), for example, provides industries with an assurance about the assurer! The average salary, in India, is around 4.5 lakhs per annum (Payscale).

Read about Software Quality Assurance (Testing) Engineer.


Professional institutes are springing up like weed, everywhere. A lot of them may be open to the idea of hiring skilled IT professionals with past work experience. The work is relatively low stress, pays decently and vacations are great. The more corporate angle to this profession is being hired as a Technical Trainer. They design special courses for organizational training, produce training schedules, conduct workshops, webinars, etc and sometimes travel around imparting gyaan. The CT++ Certification is usually a desirable addition to add credibility to your teaching standard. The salaries average over 3 lakhs in a year with high end salaries in the neighborhood of 8 (Payscale). Read more about Software Training careers.

The list, as you can imagine, doesn’t end there. You can freelance as a programmer, join technical consultancies, apply yourself in the highly digital transformation taking place in the health care administration, or even take a break to figure things out.

A boot from the glamorous IT life needn’t be devastating. It is good to keep up with industry updates and prepare yourself for the inevitable changes. Industries are always dynamic, after all. The idea is to be able to stay versatile enough to hop, skip and jump without falling.

Keep your spirits up and good luck!


Watch this video to learn how you can become an entrepreneur at a young age

Rakhi Acharyya
About Rakhi Acharyya
Rakhi is a freelance writer, a Physics PhD from Michigan State University, an ex-teacher and a former employee of Corporate America. Follow her on Twitter.

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