Everything You Need to Know About Careers in Computer and Information Technology (IT)

Computer and IT careers are quickly becoming the most wanted job in America. However, the field of prospective employees is not growing as fast as the jobs are.

There is some real money to be made here if people would actually think about getting into the career. The technical side does have a certain je ne sais quoi to it that not all of us can appreciate, but it’s there.

What is information technology?

Information technology (IT) can be used as a synonym for computers and computer networks. IT is basically applied telecommunications equipment and computers to retrieve, manipulate, store and transmit data, usually in the business context.

Several industries like electronics, computer hardware, semiconductors, internet, e-commerce and so on are associated with information technology.

Essentially information technology is all about using information as a commodity or resource.

Education

The education required to have a job in either the computer or IT fields varies depending on the job you want. An example of a job that would only require a certificate or associate’s degree would be a computer support specialist.

Becoming a computer scientist or a computer engineer, however, would require a bachelor’s degree or a doctoral degree in computer science. Any of them can be done with a master’s degree in the field, but that doesn’t always mean the higher educated person is going to receive the job offer.

It is recommended that you do as much education as you can – even after earning a degree.

The field is growing quite rapidly, and there are thousands of new techniques that will crop up after formal education is finished.

It would do a prospective employee well to take extra classes or to study up on their own. This allows everyone to understand what is happening as technology and code evolve to become more sophisticated and more complex to do more than what it can now.

Degree Programs

AAS Diploma in Information Technology: Is an entry level requirement for candidates aspiring to establish a career in Information Technology. Can extend up to 2 years.

A bachelor’s degree in a computer related field is the most basic requirement for becoming an IT specialist.

Bachelor’s degree programs start by generally gaining a solid foundation in engineering, mathematics and science. Taking advantage of the computer laboratory resources and completing an internship can go a long way in one’s career.

Gaining professional experience and obtaining certification can help in huge amounts in the long run. Professional certifications will demonstrate expertise in a variety of information technology related areas.

A master’s degree in computer science or related areas can take you a step ahead, though a bachelor’s degree is the least qualification required.

Students in their master’s degree programs build on the knowledge that they have acquired during their undergraduate education and are able to explore computer science theory and practice more extensively.

One may take courses in computer graphics, artificial intelligence, computational modelling/vision and alike. Study and research in computer science, along with a thesis, may also be required.

An MBA in Information Technology prepares technology leaders and entrepreneur to be better equipped as business leaders.

Students will often have an undergraduate degree in computer science and also have several years of experience working in an IT department or in some cases, at a technology company.

Skills and Programs

The following is a list of the most common skills and knowledge that an IT professional needs to be up to date with:-

  • Unix Operating System
  • Linux Operating System
  • Experience in Java Language Programming
  • C++ Language Programming experience
  • Perl Language Programming experience
  • MySQL Database Management
  • Microsoft C# Language Programming experience
  • XML- Extensible Markup Language
  • Advanced HTML skills
  • Project Management methods

Pursuing continuation education courses in the field are the ideal way to keep up with the growing pace of the field. IT is constantly changing and evolving, thus requiring the continuation of the professional’s education. Consultants can complete courses offered through software and hardware companies.

How to Choose Schools?

Apart from selecting one’s area of interest, the other task that lies before a candidate is choosing the right kind of school. Choose a school in such a way that, you get moulded in a positive way and come out as a professional. Here are a few points that you have to remember while choosing a school to study information technology.

  • Good infrastructure: Go to a school that is well equipped with all material that is essential for the required studies. The school should be able to provide all the resources to help the candidate grow positively in the field. This will help you when you start as a consultant. Good lab facilities are the most essential part. IT related subjects cannot really be understood theoretically.
  • Faculty: It is also important to check the reputation of the school in terms of the faculty members. Especially, when you take up information technology, you will need a knowledgeable faculty/guide, without whom it could become difficult for you to complete the program successfully, as it is a fast developing field.
  • Cost of the Program: Not all the schools offer costly programs. So, you can choose a school that does not take all your money to complete the course. There are also highly reputed institutions that change just reasonable amount of money for completion of the course. Try getting a seat into this kind of schools.
  • Scholarships or grants: A lot of institutions offer you with a number of scholarships, and save you a lot of money. Choose such a school which can give you grants, especially if you good in your academics. These grants will be of much use in case if you are going for continuation courses. Scholarships are offered either through Federal grants or Public / Private funded organizations.
  • Check for internship requirements: Few institutions offer internships to the students who take up the course there. This will come as an added advantage, when searching for a better school to join, maybe for a masters. These internship programs offer you good exposure and real-time experience in the field.
  • Placements: Check for schools that offer placement opportunities once you finish your course. These come in handy in time of job hunts and the chances of getting placed are better and easier when the employer knows that you are from a reputed institution.

There are also ways of earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree online. Thus you can take up these courses by residing in any part of the world, by exploring the various websites available. This is a convenient way to go about it.

IT Career

The use of computers has automated numerous processes in today’s world. The role of computers and IT professionals has become omnipresent. IT professionals have to deal with different aspects of computers such as its networking, troubleshooting and so on. These will also cover different activities such as maintenance, installing, repair, develop, design, test, and managing computers and computer based systems.

Some of the most general job profiles are as follows:-

  • Hardware engineerLooks after the physical upkeep of computers and is qualified to test the performance of computers and rectify hardware related issues.
  • Systems analyst: They analyze the technical and business requirements of a project from the client’s perspective and provide suitable solutions.
  • Application architect: Keeps track of the on-going software development activities and assist software engineers in their job.
  • Network administrator: Deals with setting up and maintaining the interconnectivity of computers within an organization.
  • Database administrator: They define and implement strategies for safe storage, backup, and retrieval of information from various databases.
  • Project manager: Monitoring the development of a software application from its inception to its completion and implementation, is the challenge put forward.

Job Outlook

The outlook for this particular job is huge. By 2025, it is projected that the number of jobs in this field will grow by 10% to 30%.

For a computer support specialist in 2015, there are an average of 728,300 jobs in the United States. This job is expected to have 135,000 more open job positions by 2025.

A computer programmer, however, can expect to fill one of the 29,400 more open job positions in 2025.

As the technology era rises, there will be more call for a software engineer, web developer, etc. not only in the United States, but all over the world.

As of 2015, the ten countries considered to be the largest manufacturers of electronics are China, the United States, Japan, Germany, Israel, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, the Republic of Korea, and Singapore.

As technology like the Japanese robot Asimo becomes the focus of the tech era, there will be more chances to work on ground breaking projects.

Pay Scale

The salary for a career in the computer and IT fields has quite a range, is expected to grow more than 27% by 2025. It is more than double the mean annual salary for the U.S. workers.

Entry-level jobs can average from $25,000-$35,000 a year.

An average salary for a web designer in the United States, for example, is $64,110 a year.

The average income for a computer technician is $55,260 a year.

A hardware engineer can earn an average of between $68,710 to $167,030.

At the upper end of the range, anyone in the computer or IT field can earn $150,000 a year.

Work Environment

The work environment for someone in the IT or computer fields can vary greatly. With more advanced technology comes innovation and creativity.

One environment for someone in these fields is to join a big company. Creativity may not be completely running here, but it gives a good name to a resume. Another idea is to join a small start up business.

Both of these offer the employee the chance to work under someone else and hone their skills.

If neither of those options sound enticing, there are two other options people in this field can explore. One is to freelance.

This offers the person the ability to pick and choose their projects, and hone a specific skill over a period of time without having to hone another.

If freelancing isn’t what they’re looking for, they can always become an entrepreneur. This allows them to work as much or as little as they want on a specific idea, project, or type.

It’s quite intriguing to work freelance or become an entrepreneur because it allows ideas from one person to be heard and developed instead of having it get lost in the crowd.

Future Opportunities

In the end, there is so much happening in this field. There is a large opportunity to grow.

Web developers, computer engineers, software engineers, and even computer scientists all need to keep their skills sharp to compete with the next big thing. It’s also quite a rewarding career.

Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook and other companies all started as an entrepreneurial business, and look at where they are now.

If someone stumbles upon a good idea, and is able to hone, craft, and sell it big time, it sets them up for a wonderful life, and their money problems are pretty much solved.

There are very few other careers that are so rewarding.

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