IT & Tech
Jobs within the IT sector have never been more in demand, with computer skills becoming ever more important in the workplace. A career in IT opens up a range of possibilities…
- Software Architect
- Technical Engineer
- Operations Analyst
- Technical Consultant
- Project Manager
- Web Designer
What do employers look for?
As with most careers, work experience will set you apart from your competitors.
Is it the right career for me?
Some IT-based roles won’t actually require you to have a computer science or IT-based degree, and some companies offer training schemes as part of your job.
You will also need to be an effective communicator, as you may find you are dealing with clients over the phone and so will need to be clear if giving any assistance verbally or written.
- Problem solver
- Investigative thinker
- Good Communicator
Computer skills are becoming increasingly important in the workplace, especially in offices. It's well worth learning how to use email and the Web, and getting to know your way around a Windows PC. Also, familiarise yourself with popular office software packages such as word processors, spreadsheets, databases and presentations.
Alternative names are software engineer or developer. The job involves writing instructions in a computer language to achieve a task. In practice you'll probably work in a team, each responsible for a small part of a bigger program. You'll only get to work on an entire big program if you're a manager supervising other programmers.
Personality: You need to be methodical, comfortable with logic - being good at maths would be handy - and happy to sit in front of a computer screen all day.
Qualifications: Most big firms only recruit IT graduates, or maybe non-IT graduates, for programming jobs. But you can get a programming job in a smaller company with an NVQ. The important thing is to get a work placement afterwards and continue to learn on the job.
Whether you're qualified or not, potential employers will probably give you an aptitude test. This won't expect you to know computer programming languages but you will need to use programming logic to solve problems; for example, using a 'loop' to repeat the same instruction over again.
Website development is a less technical area. It demands fewer programming skills but more of an eye for design and marketing. You can teach yourself the basics or go to evening classes. The downside is that since the 'dot com boom' there are lots of website designers out there.
The job: Operators are responsible for setting up and maintaining computer systems, especially hardware. They may be responsible for a particular area - such as the network that connects computers in an office or the database system that staff use.
Being an operator is more physical and hands-on than being a programmer. If something needs checking on a computer network, for example, you'll be the person under the desk fiddling with cables and using a voltmeter. You'll also use software to monitor the system; for example, checking graphs of the flow of traffic on the network.
Personality: You need to be comfortable getting physical with technology, the sort of person who would consider taking a screwdriver to their personal stereo if it was broken.
Qualifications: You don't have to be a graduate, but any qualifications will help - even GCSEs. Again potential employers might give you an aptitude test. Employers are often willing to train operators on the job - look for a 'trainee operations' position. Or you could start off by working in support and then move over into operations. Once in an operations job, your employer will send you on training courses if you need to know more about a particular system or if they want you to specialise in a particular area.
3. Support staff
The job: You don't need to know much about computers to get a job in support, where you help other people with their computer problems. Companies are happy for you to start at the bottom and learn on the job.
Jobs include help desk support, where you wait for calls to come in from users whose computers have gone wrong, and operator support, where you might keep an eye on programmes running overnight and look out for problems.
Personality: You need to be good at dealing with people, especially when they're upset about their computer going wrong.
Qualifications: No formal qualifications necessary, although again anything helps.
Salary varies depending on your role but people in IT fare relatively well, with an average salary of £40,000.
Key articles for IT and Technology graduates