Unit.4 | Internet of Things
Learning Unit | Internet of Things

Career Opportunities in the Internet of Things

Chapter 06/06

Career Opportunities in the Internet of Things

  1. Career Fields Within IoT
  2. Jobs in IoT

Snapshot

Learn where the internet of things (IoT) is headed and which IoT career fields need employees. Explore specific jobs within the IoT, and discover the educational requirements for succeeding in these occupations.

Key Terms:

  • Hardware
  • Software
  • Firmware
  • Cybersecurity
  • Future-proof
  • Patch
  • Planned obsolescence

The internet of things (IoT) is revolutionizing every industry, from home appliances to agriculture to space exploration.

Since the advent of cloud computing, we’ve seen an exponential growth in the number of sensor-enabled devices connected to the internet—and every sign points to that growth accelerating in the coming years, with anywhere from 26 to 50 billion IoT units installed by 2020. view citation[1] That’s why IoT professionals are currently a hot commodity.

From engineering and development to product testing and device security, the IoT already needs many hands on deck and will be actively expanding its workforce as society becomes more and more connected.

Career Fields Within IoT

A developer at his desk.

Development

In such a rapidly growing field, new and improved technologies are constantly being developed. With so many areas of IoT requiring talented tech professionals—hardware design, software coding, network and systems engineering, product testing and validation, security analysis, data science, database programming, even technical documentation—there is no shortage of positions available for the right candidates.

Any given IoT device includes several interconnected systems, and for each device someone has to build and integrate all those systems. Developing an IoT product involves hardware design, hardware testing and integration of the hardware with the firmware. Then the hardware and firmware have to be integrated with the software, and all those things must be integrated with the network and the server back end. An IoT device isn’t just an application that lives locally on a desktop computer or smartphone; with IoT devices, you have to design all of the infrastructure around them, too.

In addition, IoT devices have to be designed for use on multiple platforms. IoT devices are often designed to be used via mobile phone, so the IoT needs programmers for both Android and iPhone development. There’s also a need for server back end and database development personnel to handle firmware updates, collect metrics and logging errors, and manage advertising.

A developer at his desk.

Security

It’s easy to see where cybersecurity professionals fit into the IoT, when you consider how insecure IoT devices are currently. It can be easy to feel alarmed about the IoT, but it’s also exciting to imagine how much the IoT will change the world in the coming years. With a skilled IoT workforce, we can make that transition smooth and safe for all.

Security professionals around the world are pushing for greater security education. view citation[2] By training the next generation of developers and manufacturers to incorporate better security into their products and devices, educators and newly educated tech professionals are beginning to make up for the time we’ve already lost.

Sometimes device design is a process of trial and error. Good security designs often rely on a very deep understanding of how things fail. Exploring current IoT designs to identify and understand potential vulnerabilities and issues is a great first step in creating new designs that are more secure and more “future-proof.” view citation[3]

Future-proofing refers not only to protection against hackers but also to the necessary patches and upgrades that come with any sophisticated information technology that’s connected to the internet. view citation[4] If you have a smartphone, you’ve probably noticed that over time, updates are offered less and less frequently, and your phone slows down as it ages. This happens because companies eventually focus their upgrades on their newer devices—a phenomenon known as “planned obsolescence view citation[5] —and because as devices age and their components naturally wear down, the company’s upgrades intentionally slow devices down in order to prevent them from unexpectedly crashing. view citation[6] Although phone companies have good reasons to deliberately slow obsolete devices over time, this slowness can be extremely frustrating for smartphone users. It’s also true that obsolete devices can become more prone to hacking and viruses. view citation[7]

A developer at his desk.

Now imagine this same phenomenon occurring with all of the smart devices in your home. If you think having an obsolete cell phone is bad, wait until you need to buy a new washing machine because they stop pushing upgrades to your current one, meaning your new smartphone won’t talk to it anymore. And keep in mind that if your washing machine becomes so obsolete that its manufacturer stops pushing new security patches entirely, it would eventually become vulnerable to hacking.

Ubiquitous internet connectivity could allow hackers to target your home appliances, your bank account or even a municipal power grid. That’s why security plays an enormous role in IoT device development and implementation, and why cybersecurity is a booming field for aspiring IoT professionals.

A busy restaurant kitchen with overlay of data being captured and monitored at the stoves, prep areas.

IoT in Every Industry

It’s not hard to see where developers and cybersecurity professionals fit into the IoT future. But many workplaces and industries, both current and future, will have abundant IoT opportunities. Nearly every industry in the world will have job roles for workers who understand technology and can navigate the rapidly expanding technological world.

A sanitation engineer picking up trash.

When it comes to the blue-collar workforce, even trash and recycling disposal will eventually be affected by IoT. For example, some cities are already embedding garbage cans with smart sensors that alert sanitation workers when a trash can is ready to be emptied. These sensors allow workers to save on fuel and avoid unnecessary collection trips. view citation[8]

In food preparation, smart stoves can be programmed via phone or computer to autonomously complete a set task. Sensors can monitor the temperature and contents of a pan on the stove, and send alerts if a dish is inadequately cooked or prepared, preventing food poisoning and eliminating human error. view citation[9]

Even police, firefighters and first responders for natural disasters like floods and earthquakes will be affected by the IoT. Drones can be deployed during the search-and-rescue phase of disaster response, gathering crucial information that would be too dangerous for a human to collect. view citation[10] Sensors can be placed in levees, bridges and utility poles that can monitor risk factors such as rising water levels view citation[11] and infrastructure instability. view citation[12] In disaster scenarios, timing is key, so the ability of IoT devices to collect real-time information is crucial for quick response and saving lives. view citation[13]

Jobs in IoT

Rest assured: In every area where there are internet-connected sensors, IoT technologists will be in high demand. Here are a few common roles in the IoT field today.

IoT/Cloud Software Developer

An IoT/Cloud Software Developer at work.

Without software, the IoT wouldn’t exist. Software developers are integral to the production of IoT devices. CompTIA Cloud+ will give you the experience you need in cloud-based infrastructure services.

Education requirement: CompTIA Cloud+ and/or A+ certification and experience

Also acceptable: Bachelor’s degree in information technology or information networking

Annual salary: $73,000

IoT Infrastructure Architect

An IoT Infrastructure Artchitect at work.

IoT infrastructure architects solve business problems by implementing IoT devices such as intelligent sensors, security appliances and networking devices. Cloud+ certification teaches you to maintain and optimize cloud infrastructure services, and Server+ certification covers the latest server technologies, giving you the skills you need to be a successful infrastructure architect.

Education requirement: CompTIA Cloud+ and Server+ certification and experience

Also acceptable: Bachelor’s degree in information technology or information networking

Annual salary: $100,000

IoT Systems Administrator

An IoT Systems Administrator at work.

As in any industry, systems administrators are crucial to the success of the IoT. The Cloud+ certification covers the increased diversity of knowledge, skills and abilities required of system administrators.

Education requirement: CompTIA Cloud+ certification and experience

Also acceptable: Bachelor’s degree in information technology, computer science or computer engineering

Annual salary: $72,000

Vulnerability/Cyber Engineer

An IoT Vulnterability/Cyber Engineer at work.

Cybersecurity starts at the ground level, where security administrators manage security solutions, monitor the network and roll out patches. Everything you need to know for this job is covered by CASP certification, which provides performance-based certification for practitioners at the advanced skill level of cybersecurity.

Education requirement: CompTIA CASP certification and experience

Also acceptable: Bachelor’s degree in information technology, computer science or computer engineering

Annual salary: $84,000

Test Engineer

A Test Engineer at work.

IoT products, like all other sophisticated information technology devices, need someone to verify and validate that they’re functioning properly once they’ve been fabricated.

Education requirement: CompTIA Network+ certification and experience

Also acceptable: Bachelor’s degree in information technology, computer science or computer engineering

Annual salary: $62,000

References

  1. “Gartner Says 8.4 Billion Connected “Things” Will Be in Use in 2017, Up 31 Percent From 2016.” Gartner. February 2017. View Source

  2. “Too few cybersecurity professionals is a gigantic problem for 2019.” TechCrunch. January 2019. View More

  3. Interview with Patrick Tague, professor at CMU Silicon Valley.

  4. “Future Proof.” Techopedia. View Source

  5. “Built to Fail: Is Planned Obsolescence Really Happening?” Consumers International. View More

  6. “Apple admitted it’s slowing down certain iPhones.” Vox. December 2017. View Source

  7. “Outdated technology costs businesses more than it saves.” Phoenix Business Journal. November 2018. View More

  8. “IoT and Smart City trends boost smart waste collection market.” GreenBiz. January 2017. View Source

  9. “How the Internet of Things Is Already Changing the Way We Cook and Eat.” Inc. January 2016. View Source

  10. “IoT, Drones And AI: How Technology Can Help In Disaster Situations.” International Business Times. November 2017. View Source

  11. “How Industrial IoT sensors are used to monitor water levels and flood warning systems: A guide.” IoTnews. July 2018. View Source

  12. “How IoT Is Enhancing Structural Health Monitoring (SHM).” IoT For All. June 2019. View Source

  13. “Integrating IoT Devices to Help First Responders Save Lives.” Govtech. April 2019. View Source