Information technology (IT) is a loaded term. For this reason, there’s ambiguity over what an IT professional does. Since IT encompasses many aspects of the world of computers and more, we’re here to share the ins and outs of the types of jobs and duties one can possess within the field.
By better understanding the field and what an IT professional does, you may discover a career path that excites you.
What is IT?
No, we are not talking about a horror movie clown. IT stands for information technology. At its core, it is all about how businesses can apply technology to solve and optimize organizational issues at scale. IT professionals work within teams and play a big role within organizations of all sizes.
We can break down the main tenets of what IT professionals cover into three main categories:
- IT operations: These are the day-to-day activities of IT professionals, which includes security testing, device management, and tech support, to name a few.
- IT governance: These are the processes that an organization upholds to ensure that systems are operating effectively and according to regulations.
- Infrastructure: Infrastructure refers to the hardware and physical devices that support IT. For example, it can be a laptop, desktop, phone systems, and servers.
What is an IT Professional?
IT professionals are the people who build, test, install, repair, and maintain hardware and software within organizations. Some organizations will have an in-house IT team, whereas smaller scale businesses may hire freelance IT professionals for specific tasks.
IT professionals usually have a background in computer science or information technology. Because of the changing and evolving nature of technology and systems, IT professionals benefit from continuous education and completing certification programs.
What Does an IT Professional Do?
As mentioned, IT can be broken down into its three main categories: governance, infrastructure, and operations. As such, the duties of IT professionals fulfill the needs of each.
The main roles sit under these umbrellas:
- Network systems administration and support: These IT professionals are responsible for updating computer network systems and troubleshooting any issues users may have.
- Programming and software development: Programmers and web developers write code to create websites, applications, and software.
How Does One Get a Job in IT?
There are various paths that one can take to land a role in IT.
Without any education, it’s possible to work in entry-level customer support positions to learn the ropes through on-the-job training. To go a step further, you can enroll in online certification programs to obtain technical knowledge. This is an especially good route to take if you know the position you wish to land.
For high-level positions and the greatest opportunity, you’ll want to earn a degree. By studying computer science, you can hone both hard and soft skills to excel in the world of IT.
Typical Job Titles and Expected Salaries
Technology is ubiquitous in organizations around the world. As a result, there are many job titles in the realm of information technology. Here’s a look at a few of the most commonly held positions and their expected salaries (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics):
Database administrators are in charge of databases. They may create, add, or modify records in databases. Or, they will spend their time helping users in business leverage the data from databases to be able to make informed business decisions.
The median pay for database administrators in 2019 was $93,750.
Network administrators install computer networks and make sure that they are running properly and securely. The job requires programming abilities and knowledge of networking hardware.
Their median salary was $83,510 annually.
Systems analysts combine business and information technology to help businesses optimize their systems. Their ultimate goal is to make operations run as smoothly and effectively as possible.
The median annual salary was $90,920.
Computer support specialists
Ever had a computer or network issue and not known who to call? This is the role of a computer support specialist. They generally work in large organizations to provide support to computer users.
On average, they earned $54,760 per year.
Recommended Skills to Possess
Is becoming an IT professional right for you? While only you know the true answer to this question, it can help to better understand what skills bode well for these jobs.
Since you’ll generally be working with people and in teams, strong communication is a no-brainer. Even if you can articulate your thoughts well, you’ll need to understand that you’ll often be dealing with people who are frustrated and know less about the technicalities behind the issue than you do. For this reason, you’ll have to maintain patience, understanding, and express empathy while resolving issues.
Additionally, the complexities of IT makes it hard for executives and key decision-makers to know what path to take. These solutions generally require big investments, so if you’re able to break down a big picture issue into the small steps it will take to resolve, you can greatly help organizations run more smoothly.
As with any career, genuine interest and passion for the subject will take you to the top of the field!
Studying Computer Science
Once you decide upon pursuing a career in the field of information technology, you can get started right away! With a degree, you can apply for any type of job in IT. And, earning a degree can be affordable.
At University of the People (UoPeople), we offer a tuition-free program in computer science with the choice between an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Students learn entirely online, so you can study at your own pace with utmost flexibility.
The Bottom Line
An IT professional can choose from a variety of positions within the field. In any position, they will be helping organizations and individuals function at optimal levels by leveraging technology and systems.
To get started learning about IT, consider earning a certificate, applying for an entry-level job, or earning your degree in computer science.