Technology plays a vital role in both IT support and web development, but both require different training and skills. A great deal depends on your natural disposition for either profession. If you enjoy working with people and are a great communicator, pursuing a career in IT support can be excellent for you since it requires just as many communication skills as tech skills.
Conversely, if you’re more of a creative type and have a passion for technology, web development is an excellent option since you can usually work independently. Sure, you’ll need to communicate with your clients and employers, but you are given more quiet, contemplative time to spend creating.
If you have a little talent in both fields, you might get hung up on which one you should focus on. So, in today’s article, we’re going to break down some of the most significant differences, similarities, and pros and cons of both career paths.
Let’s do it!
IT Support Vs. Web Development: What are the Pros and Cons?
As with similar careers like software engineering or systems engineering, IT support and web development share some overlap. But each focuses on a different set of strengths and skills. Both require a passion for technology and a knack for problem-solving. Let’s break down some of the biggest pros and cons of each.
Web Development Pros and Cons
If you have a little knowledge and curiosity, learning web development is easy to get started. In fact, one of the most satisfying parts of web development for a beginner is just how easy it is to jump in and start building something. You can build a website just by cracking open a text editor or IDE and typing out some HTML. It might not be a pretty website, but you can see tangible progress in a few short minutes.
In the same vein, this can also be a drawback. As simple as it is to get started, it is just as easy to start learning the wrong thing and get distracted. In web development, there are so many different technologies, languages, and best practices to learn that it can quickly become overwhelming. It seems like every other week, a new framework or component library is released. This field might get exhausting if you don’t look forward to lifelong learning.
With web development, you have an outlet to unleash your creative side. Designing and building websites let you tap into your inner artist more than IT support could ever do. This also comes with its fair share of frustration. Get ready to spend hours on end in front of your computer, perfecting your craft. If you enjoy tweaking, customizing, and debugging, then web development will be a fun career path for you.
IT Support Pros and Cons
While web development lets you tap into your creative side, IT support is more of a logical, analytical role. You won’t be designing and crafting anything artistic unless you count building custom PCs or organizing network cables as art (which some do). However, IT support allows you to get creative in your solutions to hardware and software problems.
To master IT support, you must perfect your troubleshooting skills–both with computers and people. In fact, you may spend more time communicating with your clients and employers than you do servicing the actual tech itself. You’ll thrive in IT support if you’re a people person and a great communicator. On the other hand, many young techs get frustrated and move on because they don’t foresee the people side of the business as being so prominent.
Much like web development, you don’t need any formal education to get into computer repair and IT support. Certifications and tests do exist, but as in web development, they are often unnecessary.
Depending on what type of IT support career you pursue, it could be more or less stressful than web development. You could work in a laid-back computer repair store, performing hardware fixes, virus removals, and upgrading computers. The downside is that these jobs might not pay as well. Conversely, you could work as a help desk tech or network technician for a large company with a fast-paced schedule and hectic work environment. In an ideal world, the more demanding job will offer better compensation. Either way, if you are hoping for a low-stress job, IT support may not be the best path.
IT Support Vs. Web Development: Can You Work Remote?
The beautiful thing about IT support and web development is they both allow room for working remotely. If you love working from the comfort of your home, then any tech-related career is a safe bet. While both fields have their share of remote and onsite jobs available, finding a remote position in either is easy.
Web development is often easier to work remotely. If you are a freelancer, you might never see your clients face-to-face, save for Zoom meetings. On the other hand, you can easily find web development jobs that require you to come into the office, but these are more scarce. If you want to skip the commute, working from home as a web developer can be very lucrative.
IT support does have the possibility of finding remote work, but you may find yourself more limited. You will undoubtedly need to go on-site to perform your duties if you are a network computer technician, hardware support tech, or helpdesk tech. That’s not to say you’ll always need to be on the move–you can often handle support requests remotely as well. Thanks to remote desktop software, troubleshooting a user’s computer over the web is as easy as ever.
Which One Has Better Salary: IT Support or Web Development?
As far as stability is concerned, both professions benefit from the ever-evolving field of computer technology. Every industry needs IT staff to maintain its infrastructure and equipment. Just like every industry needs web developers to create and manage its websites. There will be no shortage of companies and brands seeking skilled web developers or IT professionals in an increasingly digital world.
The question of salary depends on multiple factors. Besides your skills and seniority, your ability to communicate effectively with your colleagues, clients, and employers will be the biggest determining factor. Your location also plays a significant role in compensation and salary. A technician or developer in Southeast Asia or Eastern Europe won’t be paid as much as in the United States or Western Europe. This is where the benefits of remote work come in–it doesn’t matter where you are if you can work remotely.
In terms of salary, web development is the winner by a wide margin. According to GlassDoor, the average base salary for a web developer is over $72,000 per year. On the other hand, IT support comes in at a much lower average of $44,000. Though you shouldn’t choose your career path based solely on finances, a web developer’s salary looks tempting.
Pick One or Both: IT Support and Web Development
“A balanced life is a lie … Extraordinary results require focused attention and time. Time on one thing means time away from another. This makes balance impossible.”Gary Keller, The ONE Thing.
If you absolutely can’t decide between IT support and web development, you can try balancing both, but you’ll have a much more challenging road ahead of you. While it is often easy for a web developer to do IT support and vice versa, it is not easy to become a master at both. That requires time and dedication to one area.
As the owner of both a computer repair store and web development agency, I can say it is possible to get good at both crafts. However, spending time on one inevitably leads to stealing time from the other. If you can find a way to make the two paths harmonize and work together, it can make for some fantastic results. If you are a freelancer or entrepreneur, you have even more freedom to switch back and forth.
On the other hand, if you are looking to settle into a career as a salaried employee, mastering one skill set will get you farther than trying to do both. Since they are both in the IT field, the great thing is that IT support and web development have enough technical overlap that you can try one field out and pivot to the other one if you eventually change your mind.