Information Technology Career List

I once had to give a talk explaining what kids of jobs were available for graduates in computer science and information technology. The talk developed into a kind of information technology career list. It started with the question :
What is a career in computer technology?
And continued :
Is it just sitting in front of a glowing box all day? Not at all!

A career in information technology is a rewarding, challenging career, with many possible paths open to you. If your passion is interacting with people, listening to them, understanding what they want, the System Analyst is the role for you. On the other hand, if you love directing and coordinating a team of hard-working individuals, you should aim high and become a Project Leader. On the other hand, some really do prefer the joy of coding - willing the glowing box to do their bidding. Far from being a couch potato, the Programmer's position is one many find extremely rewarding. There are many branches to the Information Technology career tree. Read on to find out more about some of them, and decide which one you'd like to squirrel up to.

First of all, any modern career is a challenge. For a graduate to succeed our rapidly changing world requires skills rarely taught in school or university - skills such as flexibility and adaptability, the willingness to continually learn, mixed together with a good dose of creativity, and good ole getting along well with colleagues, bosses and customers. This is equally true, if not more, in the field of information technology. Technologies and techniques change continually, and the most nimble-minded are the ones who thrive. On another page I talk about how best to obtain these soft skills, and some of the pitfalls that a new graduate should beware of when embarking on a career in information technology or computer science. For now, I'll describe for you some typical information technology jobs, and tell you about the kinds of careers that they can lead to.

The System Analyst is involved in the first step of any useful software project. His or her job is to meet with the customer, the potential users of a new software product, and figure out just what they want. It's a fascinating challenge, and suits perfectly those who have an avid interest in people. It's challenging because users often don't themselves know what they want from a software product. Even if they do, these so-called requirements may change as time goes by. The system analyst will go to a customer's workplace, and through interviews, questionnaires and observation, deduce how the business actually works, and suggest ways information technology can be used to make it better. Skills required: good communication skills, creativity. In addition, a dash of salesmanship will be worth its weight in gold in the system analyst career. Academic qualifications: Usually, a good Bachelor's or honors degree in computer science or information technology.

The System Designer's job is to take the information collected by the system analyst, and figure out how computer and information technology can be applied to each customer's specific situation. More and more, this activity, called design, is done with the customer or users as a real and active participant. The system designer is to software as an architect is to buildings. The system designer's challenge is to know what technology is available, and be able to evaluate it to decide what best meets the needs of the customer. The job also involves breaking down the customer's needs into a clear and precise specification that a programmer can easily use to generate the program code of the system. Skills required: a strong analytical mind, creativity. It helps to be always in touch with new technology and programming techniques. Academic qualifications: Usually, a good Bachelor's or honors degree in computer science or information technology. 

The Programmer is, I guess, what most people imagine a 'typical' infotech career involves. His or her job is to translate the detailed software description produced by the system designer, and translate it into the obscure and arcane languages only computers understand. Skills required: a strong analytical mind, attention to detail. And, of course, programming skills! Academic qualifications: Usually, a good Bachelor's or honors degree in computer science or information technology.

There are many other entry-level jobs in computer science and information technology. However, very few people in any field stay in an entry-level job for their whole lives. Although there are probably almost as many different career paths as there are working people, I've attempted to describe for you some of the more common pathways people walk down in the IT field.

The Project Leader directs a team of software developers, including programmers, designers, analysts, and others such as documentation specialists, user interface designers, and others. The project leader's job is to encourage and motivate his or her team, to plan and track the progress of a software development project, and generally ensure success. Skills required: Communication skills, a good motivator, well organised. In a word, management. Academic qualifications: Usually, a good Bachelor's or honors degree in computer science or information technology, and some years experience on software teams.

The Trainer is in high demand. He or she is able to effectively equip others to use information technologies well. There are companies that are willing to pay a very high price to have their staff equipped with the skills to use certain in-demand technologies. The trainer must be a person with a deep knowledge of such an area, able to pass it on effectively to others in an engaging way. Skills required: Communication skills, good technical knowledge, a good motivator. Academic qualifications: Usually, a good Bachelor's or honors degree in computer science or information technology, and some years experience with the technology.

Beyond and along with this, the imagination is the limit to what hardworking individual can accomplish in a career in information technology. I hope this information has been helpful!

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