IT continues to provide a fairly stable source of income for both permanent position holders and contractors, which includes PC support, developers and programmers, IT managers, business systems analysts, project managers and programme managers.
The following areas of work can be loosely grouped into technical (e.g. software development), business-related (project management) and creative (website development and design).
Example job titles are Software System Architect or Designer, Software Application Developer, Software Engineer, Software Tester, Installer.
Software development or programming is the starting point for many IT careers. As well as programming, development work covers networks, databases, systems, hardware and websites. Most organisations buy programs and then have them adapted to meet the organisations’ needs.
Website developers and designers continue to be very much in demand, due to the increasing use of e-commence and websites as a primary means of communication with the customers or business-to-business.
Different stages in the software life cycle involve developers: programs are tested for functionality and security, while installation of programmes, databases, systems, networks and migration can be a massive undertaking.
Example job titles are Database or Network Administrator, Systems Support Manager, User or Technical Support Manager. Many jobs overlap and roles can be very individual, particularly in smaller organisations.
Once installation is complete, the support team works within the organisation to support the infrastructure, its operations and users. A company’s database will have a team dedicated to its operation and maintenance, as well as the network, whether it links remote locations or is a one-site intranet.
Example job titles are Project Manager, Development Manager.
Project management roles in information technology are more concerned with the interface of IT in an organisation’s strategic planning, as well as its communication and financial systems. In many instances, projects will be organisation-wide, such as the development of new hardware or software systems, and their subsequent installation and migration. The project manager must not only oversee the technical development, but must ensure delivery on time and on budget, with minimum disruption to the organisation.
Example job titles are IT Director, Continuity Manager.
Senior managers in the IT department work at executive level, taking on a strategic planning role within the organisation. Having worked up through the ranks, they are likely to have had considerable technical experience, coupled with a strong understanding of business and commercial goals.
Example job titles are Procurement Manager.
This is another area where the IT manager combines their technical knowledge and skills with general management ability in other areas. A procurement manager will use their technical knowledge to purchase the best product to fulfil a need, but will use financial acumen to negotiate on price and establish supplier relationships.
Usually, for higher level jobs a degree in computer science, maths or a related subject is needed. For more senior roles, many IT employers prefer evidence of involvement in other areas of life besides the computer screen, as further evidence that technical abilities can be applied in various environments.
It’s also possible to enter the industry with a non-IT subject degree, although you would need to demonstrate accomplished skills in an area that was also relevant to the job – e.g. business and commerce. Another way is to demonstrate proficiency in an IT skill which is much in demand, while candidates are in short supply.
Practical experience in an employment situation can also make up for a non-IT degree, in the shape of a year spent in industry before studying. It’s also possible to transfer to IT positions within a company, having started out in another department. It’s nearly always advisable to aim for certificated courses in relevant skills areas.
The rewards in a permanent position can be considerable. As well as a good salary, you can expect annual holiday leave, a pension scheme, private health insurance and overtime from the first month. You’ll usually receive solid support for continuing professional development, as it’s in the employers’ interest to keep you updated with new technologies.