Information Technology Career Pathways & Advice
With a lot of what we do at work (and outside work) now existing on The Cloud, it seems as if it is the people working in IT that are keeping everything afloat. Our whole world (from plane journeys to social media) relies on computing systems, and IT is the industry that keeps all this functioning.
Alongside other technology-based sectors, IT is one of the fastest expanding career areas as every part of society adopts more, and new, types of technology. The drive forward is relentless, and a skills shortage in the industry means that organisations are crying out for those with digital skills.
The industry is growing faster than most others, with an expected growth of 1.62% each year up to 2020 (nearly twice as fast as the national average). And with 40% of people in technology and IT-based roles working outside of the industry in areas such as retail, finance, the Public Sector and marketing, no two jobs will ever be exactly the same.
Having the right technical skills in things like coding and IT systems can open up many different opportunities, in many different companies and in many different industries. The whole world is open, and you can be an integral part in driving it forward.
Information Technology Jobs
It goes without saying that you’ll need specific technical skills for a successful career in IT, alongside softer skills such as teamwork, attention to detail and communication. Below are some of the skills you’re likely to need, although this may vary depending on your specific job or industry.
There are a huge number of roles in the IT sector, meaning a direct career path is not necessarily the same across the industry. In general though, you are likely to start in an assistant or junior position, before senior is incorporated into your title. As you progress you will be given greater responsibility and more prestigious projects. From here, and as you build your career further, you may be able to manage a team or take on consultancy work.
Taking courses recognised by the British Computer Society (BCS) are a good way to build your skills, and your employer might be happy to sponsor or support you in these if you can show how these skills will directly improve their business. Professional qualifications offered through BCS include software development and architecture, business analysis, data protection and GDPR, software testing, and asset and data management.
Because IT skills are in such high demand, they can often command relatively high salaries – especially as you move further along in your career. Here are the average salaries for some jobs in IT, according to Payscale:
Software engineer: £34,142
IT support specialist: £23,759
Senior network engineer: £43,287
Web developer: £24,872
Senior web developer: £36,622
Qualification requirements & subjects to study
The amount of technological growth that the world has seen over the past few years (and will continue to see in the future) means that there are now degrees and training courses dedicated to areas that didn’t even exist a decade ago.
Traditional degrees such as IT and computer science will qualify you for a wide range of jobs within the sector, and will ensure that you have skills in essential areas such as coding, programming languages, database building and IT support.
More specific degree courses, such as data science, computer networking, software engineering or web development will focus on a specific part of the industry, and will make you an expert in that area in particular.
How to get there
Many employers offer specific schemes for graduates with fast track career progression in a number of roles. The application criteria and details of the scheme will depend on the individual employer.
There are also a large number of entry levels roles in IT, both within IT companies and within IT departments of other organisations. These roles will often pay relatively well, as they require specific technical skill.
Keeping up to date with the latest developments in your industry and making sure you can discuss them and demonstrate your skills at interview stage will give you a good chance of getting an IT job.
BCS – The Chartered Institute for IT
Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP)
UK Web Design Association
Women in Technology
Institute of Analysts and Programmers (IAP)
UKITA (UK IT Association)
CompTIA (Information Technology Industry & Association)