How to Land a Job in Information Technology
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- Information technology careers are projected to grow from 2020-2030.
- IT is an integral part of most industries, including finance and healthcare.
- It takes a high investment of time and energy to find an entry-level position in IT.
Technology is an integral part of almost every industry, pushing the demand for skilled computer and information technology workers. The COVID-19 pandemic rapidly increased the prevalence of remote work, and technology is more necessary than ever in workplaces of all kinds.
The growing market for information technology careers often leads to high salaries for these professionals. Many careers in information technology require either a four-year or two-year degree. Professionals looking to switch to a tech career can also build skills by enrolling in a coding bootcamp or a bootcamp program for a related field.
What Is Information Technology?
Information technology is the use of computers to create, store, and retrieve data. This field touches almost every aspect of daily life, from communication to healthcare. Information technology professionals may create websites and applications, design computer software, and build systems to safeguard data and information.
All industries that use digital technology need professionals with expertise in information technology. Some industries maintain their own IT departments, while others may farm out their needs to companies that specialize in tech. Information technology professionals often work as part of a team. However, some work alone, depending on their role.
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Where Can I Work in Information Technology?
Information technology has a broad reach beyond just the tech sector. Industries such as finance, healthcare, education, and manufacturing use information technology in their day-to-day operations.
In healthcare, for example, information technology is used to track and report critical medical information. In a field like finance, businesses use information technology to exchange information quickly and safeguard critical user data.
As the information technology industry continues to grow, tech businesses cluster in tech hub cities across the U.S. These tech hubs house big and small information technology businesses and serve as incubators for startups and innovation in the field. Some top tech hubs include Austin, Raleigh, San Jose, and Seattle.
Notable Information Technology Companies
Adobe revolutionized the transition from paper documentation to digital storage through PDFs. These digital documents allow users to share, edit and sign paperwork anytime, anywhere. This improved communication and collaboration between businesses and industries.
Hewlett-Packard creates computer hardware that has improved the affordability of home computers and printers for consumers. This company created a market for "personal computers," giving consumers greater access to technology in their daily lives.
Microsoft is best known for its contributions to computer software. Microsoft created software that consumers still use today, including the Microsoft Windows operating system and the Microsoft Office Suite. Microsoft also created the web browser Internet Explorer.
The Oracle Corporation is well-known for its cloud-engineering services and database management systems. Oracle's database software is a relational database management system, meaning the data is stored in tables to be used with other stored datasets.
Salesforce provides cloud-based software and customer relationship management (CRM) services. Salesforce uses technology to track and analyze customer data throughout the consumer lifecycle, allowing companies to improve their services in response to how customers use their products.
Information Technology Career and Salary Outlook
With a growing and competitive market, tech careers tend to see higher wages than other occupations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that computer and information technology professionals earned a median annual salary of $97,430 in 2021. Comparatively, the median annual salary across all occupations was $45,760.
The BLS also projects continued growth for this industry, with 667,600 new jobs to be added from 2020-2030. This industry is projected to grow 13% over the next decade, a rate much faster than the national average.
Readers should note that salaries and job growth rates often depend on several factors, including a person's specific job title, the location of the job, and the level of education and experience the job requires.
Computer Network Architect
Computer network architects design and build data communication networks. These may include intranets, wide area networks, and local area networks. Professionals in this field work closely with clients to understand their networking needs. They are also responsible for maintaining and updating the network after it is built.
Computer Support Specialist
Computer support specialists assist businesses and individual users with computer and technical needs. These professionals assume many duties, including testing existing network systems, performing regular maintenance, and troubleshooting issues that arise for the organization or users.
Computer Systems Analyst
Computer systems analysts — also known as systems architects — study existing computer systems and develop ways to improve them. These professionals may work as consultants to help businesses run more efficiently. Computer systems analysts work closely with their customers and provide a cost-benefit analysis to help them decide the best path forward.
Network Security Specialist
Network security specialists monitor networks for breaches of data. These professionals are responsible for implementing and maintaining cybersecurity measures for their clients. Network security specialists often work closely with other members of the IT department and may also help non-IT departments maintain data security.
How to Break Into the Field of Information Technology
Information technology careers require a significant investment in time and energy. Many careers in this field — including network security specialists and computer systems analysts — require a bachelor's degree for an entry-level position. On average, a bachelor's degree takes four years to complete.
Except for highly-specialized fields, such as computer and information research scientists, information technology careers do not require a master's degree. However, as information technology is a competitive field, some professionals may experience benefits from earning a master's degree, such as a higher salary or a more advanced position.
Professionals seeking to transition into information technology careers can also pursue education through tech bootcamps. Coding bootcamps are becoming more acceptable alternatives for learning tech skills, especially as they grow in popularity.
Information technology careers are often highly technical and require knowledge of multiple computing skills. Some common hard skills necessary for an information technology career include programming languages, software testing and debugging, malware prevention, and data architecture and analytics.
Readers should note that hard skill requirements may differ depending on the job. Readers should always research the technological requirements of their desired career paths.
However, many soft skills in information technology translate from job to job. Some common soft skills necessary for a successful career include attention to detail, problem-solving, critical and analytical thinking, and communication. Professionals in information technology should develop teamworking and leadership skills as well.
Each information technology career sets different requirements for the necessary education and experience. However, most entry-level careers in information technology require some previous experience in the basics of computer science — including coding languages — and the foundations of data science.
Professionals in this field can demonstrate their experience through professional portfolios containing examples of previous projects and showcasing hard skills in computer science. Readers can build these portfolios through school projects, internships, and information technology jobs.
Another way to build a portfolio is to enroll in a coding bootcamp. Information technology bootcamps often include multiple hands-on projects throughout the program designed to be used in a professional portfolio.
Frequently Asked Questions About Information Technology Careers
Which is the best career in IT?
Choosing the best IT career depends on the professional's strengths and interests. However, the BLS projects that certain careers will experience growth at a faster rate than the national average for all computer and information technology careers.
For example, the BLS projects that information security analyst jobs will grow 33% from 2020-2030. Software developers are projected to experience 22% growth during the same period. In a competitive market like information technology, entering a field with more growth may improve hiring chances and salary outcomes.
Does an IT career pay well?
Yes, IT careers pay higher than the national median salary for all occupations. The BLS found that the median annual salary for computer and information technology careers was $97,430 in 2021, compared to $45,760 for all occupations.
You can also find higher-paying IT positions, including network security analysts, who earned a median annual salary of $102,600 in 2021.
How do I get into the IT field with no experience?
Students pursuing a degree in computer science or a related field should find internships and other career experiences before graduation. Students should reach out to their university's career services for help with resume building and locating internships.
Professionals seeking a new career in information technology should consider enrolling in a coding bootcamp. These programs often offer career services and resume-building projects to help students gain experience quickly.