There are a lot of careers in the IT industry, and it can be confusing to know what they are and tell them apart. If you’re thinking about what kind of IT career you’d like, an outline of these career options would be handy. This article contains just that – an overview of the different careers in the IT industry.
Most of the careers in the IT industry are matched to the stages of the SDLC – the System Development Life Cycle. These five phases are Analysis, Design, Development, Testing and Implementation. There’s also a separate group for roles that don’t match to these phases, which I’ve mentioned below.
The analysis stage of a project involves discovering requirements and documenting this information. The main analysis careers in the IT industry are:
Business Analyst – A business analyst is someone who is able to speak to the users or stakeholders in a company, and determine the requirements for a new system. Their job is to document them in a format that the designers can understand, as well as to confirm what the users want to achieve from a system. Good documentation and communication skills as essential.
Technical Writer – While this role isn’t strictly limited to the analysis phase, it plays a related role. A technical writer is someone who is able to create high quality technical documentation for use by the company or project teams. It can be used for upcoming work, or to document existing systems. Good documentation skills are obviously important to this role. I’ve written an article on technical writing certifications, which are useful for this role.
The design phase of the SDLC is where the requirements from the analysis phase are taken and transformed into a format that the developers can use. It’s more technical and is focused towards the proposed solution for a system. Some of the related design careers in the IT industry are:
System Architect – A system architect is essentially someone who knows the high-level layout or design of a system and is able to determine how it can work. Their work can span over into the analysis role (just as a business analyst can perform design work). Technical knowledge and analysis skills are important in this role.
Database Architect – A database architect, or database designer, is someone who is able to design a database for a system to perform at maximum efficiency and also meet the requirements. They need to have a high knowledge of both the technical aspects of the chosen database technology, as well as data modelling concepts.
The developer, also known as a programmer or software engineer, is the one who writes code or programs a system based on the requirements and documentation created in the earlier steps. It’s probably the role that most people associate with a career in the IT industry, and is arguably the one that’s most taught at schools. Some of the development careers in the IT industry are:
Software Developer – The software developer is usually focused on a particular product or technology. They develop a system in that technology based on the requirements. The software developer roles can also be known as a technology-specific role, such Java Developer, .Net Developer, or even broader concepts such as Web Developer or Mobile Developer. Logical thinking and technical skills are important for this role.
Database Developer – Similar to a software developer, a database developer programs code for a particular database. They can use a standard language (such as SQL) or be more focused towards a specific database technology (Oracle, Microsoft, etc). Technical skills relating to databases, and logical thinking is essential.
The testing stage is where the developed system is checked to ensure it works and matches the requirements. Some roles in this phase are:
Software Tester – A software tester is usually a pretty versatile role. They are able to perform unit tests on modules or pieces of code, and perform other kinds of testing such as system-wide testing or regression testing. Logical thinking and documentation are important skills for any software tester.
Management and Implementation Roles
The implementation stage of the project is where the system is completed and put into use by the company. This stage involves many roles, including developers and testers, but also includes other management careers in the IT industry, such as:
Project Manager – A project manager is someone that acts as a central co-ordinator for a project. They are responsible for communicating with various stakeholders such as the user groups, management, and the development team. They set up the schedule, budget and resources. Skills needed for a project manager include communication, documentation, and time management.
Team Leader – A team leader is (you guessed it) someone who leads a team in the company. In IT career terms, they can be related to any area of the team, depending on the size of the team and the person’s skills. For example, a Test Team Leader may be required if the testing team or phase is large, and they will generally be the person responsible for co-ordinating the test team and working with other areas of the project. A Development Team Leader performs a similar role for the development team. Communication skills, people skills, and time management are important for team leaders.
These careers in the IT industry don’t fall under a specific stage of the SDLC, but are important in the IT industry. They are not typical administration roles as might be found in other careers. These roles can include:
System Administrator – A system administrator, or sysadmin, is responsible for all areas of a system. They perform both preventative tasks on systems such as installing patches and performing backups, as well as investigation tasks such as system support. Analysis and technical knowledge are important for system administrators.
Network Administrator – A network administrator is responsible for all network-related parts of a system or company. They may be involved in installation or provisioning of new networks and hardware, setting up the configuration of networks, preventative maintenance, and troubleshooting. Analysis and technical skills are also important for network administrators.
Database Administrator – Commonly referred to as a DBA, a database administrator is someone who looks after a database or set of databases on a server. They perform both preventative maintenance such as capacity monitoring as well as assisting with upgrades and server restarts. They are also often involved in planning or designing new databases for systems as they usually have a high level of database knowledge. Technical knowledge of their chosen database and analysis skills are important for database administrators.
System Support/Help Desk – The role of system support or a help desk operator is to provide assistance and support to users of a company. This may be focused on a particular system (e.g. SAP), or the entire company’s IT system. A broad knowledge of various software and operating systems, as well as communication skills are important for help desk operators.
Other Careers in The IT Industry
There are other careers in the IT industry which I haven’t included here for one reason or another, which are:
- Sales/business development
- Multimedia, game development, digital development
- Executives (CIO, GM, etc).
Well, there is the outline of the main careers in the IT industry. I hope it clears up any confusion you may have had on these.