MILWAUKEE — Ken Hanner of Milwaukee used to book musicians for cruise ships -- a profession he and so many workers in the service, hospitality, and entertainment industry learned was far from pandemic proof.
Now, he's trying out web and software development.
"I took this opportunity to try a different path. I had a lot of time and I wasn't leaving the house and there was a virtual option to go back to school," said Hanner, who decided to enroll at Milwaukee Area Technical College.
"The job market is good and it's growing and after this pandemic, we've seen how much we rely on the IT infrastructure," Hanner said.
"A year ago, we were having problems getting our mothers, our parents on their cell phone to make a call and now we have our grandparents and five-year-olds signing onto Zoom meetings," he said.
For the upcoming fall, registrations at MATC's STEM pathway program, which includes IT, are up 30 percent among new students.
According to industry reports, the technology industry expanded by 2.3 million jobs during the pandemic.
"More people are demanding it. So, where demand hits, we need a supply of workers and they are high-paying jobs. They are very well compensated great benefits and a lot remote. It kind of makes sense," said Brian Kirsch, IT Networking instructor at MATC.
"We're seeing a lot of people whether they are job changing or new students coming in and they are looking at the field as wide open," Kirsch continued.
He says from software development to computer security, to IT networking, to trouble-shooting, career opportunities seem endless in this tech-savvy world.
"It's just what the world is now and it's all electronic, it's all computerized, and it all interacts together," he added.
Ken Hanner graduates in the Spring of 2022.
"I feel like at some point, I may have gone down this route, but who knows when that would have been or what would have spurred that," Hanner said.
The pandemic gave him that little push to try a different path.
MATC says its latest graduate career report shows 95% of MATC associate degree grads are employed and/or continuing their education within six months.
The college says graduates in the IT web and software developer program were reporting their initial salary to be around $50,000 per year.
According to Indeed.com, the average base salary for a web developer in Wisconsin is $64,446 per year.