…Your Roadmap to your Career in IT
IT jobs are becoming increasingly popular, and increasingly complex. Whether you want to work in IT support, become a software developer, or work as a data scientist: the world of IT is infinitely versatile. Here are some key facts about the IT industry, focusing specifically on careers as well as training and professional development.
What jobs are there in IT?
The IT industry is huge! And not all IT jobs involve picking up a ringing phone in a basement somewhere and asking a frustrated caller to turn their computer off and on again…
There are loads of interesting IT career options, some of them lurking in seemingly unrelated sectors; Prospects.ac.uk recently reported that “around half of graduate employers offer roles within IT and finance, irrespective of the organisation’s main purpose”. An IT role might be your ticket into a high-profile graduate industry, or your chance to work with some of the world’s leading brands. IT is a growing industry, rapidly expanding especially on the high-tech and cyber security side.
Some popular IT careers to consider:
- IT Support: IT Helpdesk Manager, Third/Second and First Line Support Engineers, IT Consultants
- Developers: Software Programmers & Engineers, Web Developers
- IT Analyst/Scientist
- Information Systems Support Officer/Manager
- IT/Cyber Security Officers
- Ancillary Services: Technical Support, IT Training Facilitators, IT Procurement Managers
Remember: There are many jobs that require solid IT skills; industries like engineering, finance, manufacturing and public services all need highly-IT literate individuals.
How much do you make in IT?
Graduate salaries usually start at 30K GBP per annum, but this is only true of jobs at bigger companies or candidates on a structured grad scheme. Smaller firms are likely to pay less, but you might gain more exposure and hands-on experience.
IT is a popular industry for freelancers as well, which is a good way to make money when you first start out. The highly transferable IT skillset means that working abroad at a big company is also a great way to reach higher paygrades quicker.
Do I need qualifications?
Some jobs you can learn as you go along, but most IT jobs require a basic level of qualification to get the ball rolling. Qualifications in the IT industry give you a professional edge, so never stop training and learning, even after your initial training period has ended.
What should I study at university?
Many universities now offer degrees in Computer Science, and joint-honours degrees with disciplines such as Maths, Physics and Business are increasingly popular. Doing a degree that offers an industrial placement is a brilliant way to get real industry experience and exposure whilst at university.
Specialist postgraduate study programs on IT networks and IT pathways have also become more popular; these postgraduate degrees are a great way for people transitioning from a non-IT background.
However, to ultimately land an IT role, it’s not a pre-requisite that you have a relevant degree if you can prove that you have solid IT knowledge. A degree in a related technical field such as maths, engineering or science is likely to be just as attractive to recruiters. It’s ultimately about being able to prove that you have the logic and maths skills needed to succeed in an IT role.
You’ll be asked to show evidence of the following core IT skills:
- Technical & analytical skills
- Teamwork & communication
- Problem-solving skills
Try an IT apprenticeship
Doing an apprenticeship can be a great way of testing out an industry for yourself. Backed by government funding, an apprenticeship means that you can start earning at a younger age. There are loads of big IT and tech companies who hire apprentices. Apprenticeships are all about matching quality placements with quality candidates, in an ethos of growth, collaboration and training. Degree-level and higher apprenticeships are a valid alternative to the traditional university route, getting work experience and training side by side.
Other IT qualifications to consider
You might want to consider undertaking some additional training in IT systems. Microsoft have long established themselves as the place to go for robust IT training. Similarly, Oracle University offers a host of recognised training courses from the Oracle brand. It’s also worth checking out the Chartered Institute for the IT Profession for the latest news on IT training.
Remember: There are loads of different developer languages out there so if you plan to specialise in one it’s a good idea to get programming language certifications.
Professional development & training
Professional training in IT is taking off in a big way as people are starting to recognise the importance of transferable skills and nurturing a well-rounded talent pool. IT training companies who have worked with IT professionals for years, have always been good at recognising the importance of nurturing vital business skills in IT professionals. I recently spoke to a local IT training provider who explained the key business skills they feel IT professionals need to develop in 2016:
- Communication skills (very useful especially for helpdesk roles)
- Troubleshooting skills
- Business management & business communication skills
- Sales (very important in the competitive IT industry)
- Virtual teams management (in a world of outsourcing this skillset is becoming vital)
How to find IT work?
IT roles will be easily found on all the large job boards’ sites, but there are also specialist IT and tech job boards like CW Jobs or Dice if you fancy getting more specialist about it. Sign up for job alerts and download the apps to your smartphone for instant access. Make sure you have a technical IT CV that places emphasis on specific technical skills and core industry competencies. Here are some of the current big IT employers: Accenture, Capgemini, CGI, Cognizant, FDM, Fujitsu, Google, IBM, Infosys and Microsoft!