OPINION: Kansas City is in a Tech Boom. Here’s How You Can Cash In.

America is experiencing a staggering shift in the labor market, and business owners are struggling to respond. You’ve no doubt experienced this if you’ve had a longer-than-usual wait at your favorite barbeque joint: Employees have more power today than ever before. We are flexing our muscles, improving our financial positions, and trading up careers.

Nowhere is this more visible than the hospitality industry, where employees are leaving in droves. Not surprising, since the average income of non-management employees is a meager $34,000 per year. As a technology executive, I love hiring employees with hospitality experience. They tend to be hard workers, great at working with customers, and quick at learning and adapting to change.

And with our recent inclusion as a technology rising star, the need for tech sector employees in Kansas City has never been greater. To sustain local growth as a technology hub, we need more employees, and we need them quickly.

I’ve heard from neighbors who have thought about trading in their apron for a desk job but don’t know where to start, and for good reason – opportunity can be overwhelming. Here are a few tech careers you should consider, with local average annual incomes as reported by Glassdoor.

Help Desk: $43,000

If you enjoy helping people and solving problems, a help desk position might be right for you. Help desk staff are on the front lines of resolving technical issues and troubleshooting.

To get your help desk career started, you’ll want to get some training and education. The CompTIA IT Fundamentals certification and A+ certification are industry recognized credentials for starting a career in IT, and will have you well on your way to a help desk position.

Junior Quality Assurance Analyst: $65,000

If you like to try to break stuff on purpose, check out a career in QA, where you’ll be performing automated and manual tests on everything from software to mobile apps and beyond, looking for bugs and system issues.

In addition to the certifications above, check out the International Software Testing Qualifications Board’s Foundational Level Certification, during which you’ll become a certified software tester.

Junior Project Manager: $69,000

Love herding cats? Project managers are responsible for organizing, planning, and directing projects in a company. They frequently work across departments, and regularly interact with executive management. Strong communications skills are a must, but so is patience, particularly if your project involves a marketing executive.

To prepare, get the certifications listed above, as well as the CompTIA Project + certification, which provides a good foundation for junior project managers. You might also find a PMI certification beneficial for senior positions in this field.

Finally, a word of caution: Although the Great Resignation has created great opportunities in technology, don’t just chase a new career because of the money. If you don’t like the work, you won’t be happy.

Instead, try to determine what you want in the next few years. What do you like about your current career? What makes you happy in a professional sense? Do you enjoy interacting with people or would you prefer just to work in front of a screen? Do you like problem solving and troubleshooting?

Answering these questions will make sure you trade your current job for a satisfying career that you love, not just a paycheck.

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