Pros and Cons of IT Jobs in Education

When considering an IT job in the education sector, weigh these benefits and drawbacks first.

Christopher Tozzi, Technology analyst

April 8, 2024

6 Min Read
laptop, smartphone and apple in front of a chalkboard with the alphabet written on it

Is education a good sector for IT workers? The answer, as with most questions about IT careers, is "it depends." IT jobs in education often come with some nice perks — such as a more casual work environment — but they can also present some unique challenges.

So, while we can't tell you whether an IT career in education is right for you, we can tell you about the pros and cons — as well as what to expect if you pursue an IT job in this sector.

IT Jobs in Education: The Basics

Let's begin by talking about what working in IT in education looks like.

Which types of IT jobs exist in education?

Broadly speaking, IT roles in the education sector fall into three main categories:

  • Jobs working for IT departments at colleges and universities.

  • IT jobs at school districts.

  • Working in EdTech, which means helping to support technologies deployed by EdTech vendors.

Each type of job category comes with some unique components. For example, if you work in IT for a school district, you'll be a public employee and subject to all of the advantages (like the availability of pension plans, in many cases) as well as drawbacks (such as a lot of government bureaucracy to navigate) of work in the public sector.

Likewise, if you work for an EdTech company, you're likely to be further removed from the education environment. You probably won't work on-site at a school or university; instead, you'll typically be deploying and managing EdTech software that users access remotely. Your job may feel more like a generic IT job than an IT job devoted to the education sector.

Related:Software Development for the Education Sector: What Coders Need to Know

What do IT jobs in education involve?

Regardless of which type of IT job you land in education, your core responsibilities are likely to be the same. You'll be tasked with deploying and managing software and/or hardware systems. You may also be expected to provide end-user support, if you are in a help desk role. IT workers at educational institutions that make use of cloud infrastructure will also need cloud computing skills.

For the most part, these responsibilities are the same as those you'd face in any IT job, not just jobs within education.

Special IT requirements for education

Although for the most part the IT systems and processes that you'll support in an IT education job are the same as those you'd encounter in any IT role, the education sector is subject to some special requirements that impact IT work.

The biggest is compliance rules that are unique to education. Most educational institutions, as well as software vendors that work with them, need to comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which imposes data privacy mandates. Colleges and universities are also typically subject to additional regulations, which are laid out in the HECA Compliance Matrix (a resource worth learning if you want to work in IT within the education sector).

Beyond compliance, IT pros in education may also need to work with special types of end users. The ability to support remote learners is important for some institutions, for example. Others may prioritize IT teams that can support not just traditional PCs and laptops, but also mobile devices, which are an increasingly common part of the learning experience both within classrooms and for students completing work outside of class.

The Pros and Cons of Working in IT in Education

The fact that there are not huge differences between IT work in education and IT work elsewhere means that, by and large, your career experience is not likely to be dramatically different if you pursue IT roles in education. Still, there are some particular perks and drawbacks to consider.


The advantages of working in IT for an educational institution include:

  • A more laid-back work culture than you'll find in most corporate jobs. Don't expect to be able to show up to work in pajamas, but do expect less formality in the office than you'd encounter in, say, the finance or legal industries.

  • The ability to innovate more easily. Because there are fewer regulations in education than in some other industries (like healthcare) and because IT departments tend to be smaller and less hierarchical in this sector, it is often easier to implement changes. Your request to deploy a new server likely won't need to go through a dozen rounds of approval, for example, which is not always the case in bureaucracy-laden corporate IT departments.

  • Access to facilities and/or course offerings from your employer. If you work in IT at a university, for example, you may get free or discounted access to the campus gym, and you may be able to take some classes for free.

  • Public employee status. As noted above, some education jobs make you a public employee. You might consider that an advantage if your status gives you access to government benefits that are better than those you'd get in the private sector, for example.


On the other hand, there are some potential disadvantages of working in IT in education:

  • Lower pay. On the whole, the education sector pays IT workers less than private companies seeking to attract top talent. Skilled IT pros can typically earn more working outside of education.

  • Being part of an overstretched team. Tighter budgets in education may also mean that you'll be part of a smaller IT team, leading to a heavier per-person workload than you'd find elsewhere.

  • High cyberattack-related stress. The education sector has become a top target for cyberattackers. This may also lead to stress for IT workers, who will find themselves frequently contending with security incidents.

To be sure, all of the above are generalizations; not every IT job in education comes with a laid-back culture or lower pay, for example. But on the whole, these are the trends that define IT work in the sector.

Should You Work in Education?

Ultimately, whether an IT job in education is right for you boils down to factors like how much you enjoy working in an education setting, and whether the unique perks of education careers outweigh drawbacks like potentially lower pay. There are plenty of happy IT workers in education, but it's not the right career path for everyone.

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About the Author(s)

Christopher Tozzi

Technology analyst, Fixate.IO

Christopher Tozzi is a technology analyst with subject matter expertise in cloud computing, application development, open source software, virtualization, containers and more. He also lectures at a major university in the Albany, New York, area. His book, “For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution,” was published by MIT Press.

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