The Backbone of Tech: Valuing Behind-the-Scenes Employees

When you think about tech, the first thing that probably comes to mind is software development. Thought to be the magic behind so many of the tools we use every day, software developers have been in high demand for several decades now, and that demand is only growing.

But developers aren’t the only important professionals in tech. In fact, STEM as a whole has seen an explosion of growth and talent, with nearly 10 million workers in STEM fields in 2021, a number that is projected to grow by nearly 11% by 2031, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Tech is certainly one of the most important fields, and despite the prominence of software development, there are many often-forgotten roles that are equally pivotal. Although the overall number of tech occupations has declined in 2023, there are still more than 6.4 million workers in the sector — and they’re not all software developers.

Here are eight critical behind-the-scenes tech roles that are essential for innovation and growth.

8 Behind-the-Scenes Tech Roles

1. Web Developer

Web developers are not the same as software developers. These professionals build websites rather than software. While there are some overlapping skill sets — both sets of professionals need to know how to code, for example — others are distinct.

There are three main types of web developers: front-end, back-end, and full-stack. Front-end developers exclusively focus on the client or forward-facing aspect of the websites, the part users can see and interact with. Back-end developers, also called server-side developers, meanwhile, work on the infrastructure, the part users can’t see. Full-stack developers are jacks of all trades, meaning they have the skills to build entire websites or web applications.

No matter what their focus or specialization, the web developer is a critical role. After all, every business needs a website to build and promote its brand, as well as offer its services in some cases.

2. Customer Success Manager

The customer success manager (CSM) is a liaison between the customer and the company. In an age where customer case is paramount, this is an essential role for ensuring that the consumer has the support they need to use the technology they want to implement.

The CSM is responsible for building and nurturing relationships with their customers. Their role encompasses communicating with the client and ensuring smooth adoption. They are involved throughout the purchasing process and beyond, from assisting the customer with decisions about which products will best suit their needs to onboarding their teams.

As technology becomes increasingly complex, it’s important to have a professional who can bridge the gap between users and the technical team, and that’s why the CSM is so critical.

3. SEO Strategist

No marketing strategy is complete without an SEO specialist or strategist. That’s because, in today’s digital-first world, search engine optimization is essential to ensure that your content ranks, especially in a market that is saturated with competitors.

The SEO strategist performs keyword research, analyzes trends, and positions an organization’s materials, branding, and messages for optimal performance. They must stay on top of news, challenges, and trends in the field to keep abreast of how search engines like Google will evaluate content.

4. Database Developer

Many of us use databases every day, sometimes without even realizing it. The professionals who keep these critical tools functioning and up to date are even more unknown to us: the database developers.

These individuals aid organizations of different types in identifying their needs and requirements to better understand the tools that will help them function better. From there, they develop solutions to house data and keep it secure, using their technical expertise and knowledge of best practices in the field. Not only do they design databases, but they also implement, maintain, update, and modify them as needed and troubleshoot any problems that may arise.

5. Network and Systems Administrator

Your networks and computer systems need constant upkeep, and that’s where network and systems administrators come in. The professionals ensure that your systems are functioning and high-performing. They also solve problems for the organization and often need to be on call in case of emergency. Because of this, they must have strong troubleshooting skills, as well as experience working with different types of technical systems and networks.

6. Technical Writer

Technical writers are instrumental in creating technical content — how-to guides, instructional manuals, in-depth reports, whitepapers, documentation, and other specialized documents and guides — to communicate complex topics in an understandable way. While these writers generally don’t need to have a technical background, they should have strong research skills and the ability to digest and communicate difficult concepts.

Technical writers play an important role in the tech landscape and beyond since it is difficult to convey intricate technical information in a way laypeople and experts alike can understand.

7. Data Scientist

In a world abundant with data, how do we grapple with all the information we have available to us? This is where data science comes in. Data scientists use cutting-edge techniques and skill sets to mine data and derive insights, making sense of the information to better inform business decisions and strategies.

Years ago, Harvard Business Review called the data scientist the “Sexiest Job of the 21st Century,” and more recently, the business authority called it more popular than ever before, pointing to the enormous growth in the field, which doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

8. Information Security Analyst

It’s obvious that cybersecurity is paramount in the digital age. Unfortunately, cybercrime is on the rise, and hackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their attempts to exploit vulnerabilities.

That’s where information security analysts enter the picture. These unsung heroes have the important role of protecting an organization’s computer systems and networks by identifying vulnerabilities and gaps in security — weaknesses cybercriminals can exploit if they’re not addressed. They are there to ensure that your business remains safe and secure.

Why Are the Behind-the-Scenes Employees So Important?

Even in times of economic downturn, professionals with tech skills remain in high demand. And despite news of layoffs in the industry, overall, the demand has surged as of late, such that there are many more jobs in the field than there were since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

But it’s important to be cognizant of the many behind-the-scenes workers who keep the wheels turning and the technology running smoothly. They extend far beyond the software developers, and together, they create a pool of talent that can make the infrastructures of organizations of all types technologically sound.

Moreover, it is important for individuals themselves to be aware of the roles that require tech skills. These roles are often highly lucrative and play a pivotal role in our society.

Research shows that people from different backgrounds and industries often pivot to tech. By understanding how these fields work, individuals can gain greater insights into how to enhance their qualifications and skill sets to break into different niches and pursue valuable, meaningful careers.

By Ivana Zec
Ivana Zec