For more than a generation now, the power and versatility of computers have grown and grown. The most staggering thing, however, is that computer technology is still in its infancy. And that’s great news if you’re interested in pursuing a career in Information Technology.
There are many different career options in IT. Here are some of the roles available in the sector.
The job title says it all: programmers encode all types of software from operating systems to applications, ensure that it meets the design specifications and interfaces properly with other software. It’s a highly technical job that requires an in-depth knowledge of both software and hardware.
But there’s more to the job than just technical ability. Programmers must have strong analytical, communication and people skills and need to be able to work in a pressurised team environment.
A degree in computer science, software engineering or a related subject is highly desirable.
If programmers are the artisans, systems analysts are the architects. The job of the analyst often begins by considering a request made by business colleagues or customers to design a system or application to meet specific requirements.
Having discussed and assessed those requirements, the analyst will then examine the best way of meeting them. He or she will then draft a technical specification and costings for approval. Once such approval is granted, the analyst will then design the necessary system or application.
The role of the analyst requires both business knowledge and people skills, and a technical background is essential. Systems analysis is a logical next career step for programmers.
This role complements that of the systems analyst. A business analyst assesses IT requirements with an emphasis on a strategic and financial viewpoint as distinct from a more technical perspective.
Business analysis can be both pro-active and reactive in nature. Either way, a business analyst will be involved from the outset of a project. He or she will, usually in conjunction with a systems analyst, explore, discuss, evaluate and cost a customer or client department’s needs then draw up a plan for an IT solution to meet those needs.
The role calls for a number of key attributes: strong communication, presentation and problem solving skills, project management and costing expertise and an aptitude for acting as the liaison cum facilitator between clients and technical colleagues. A reasonable amount of technical knowledge is also required.
Technical sales is, unlike most jobs in IT, not overly reliant on technical skills and knowledge.
The role involves, as the name suggests, selling products and services to customers. Technical sales staff must possess a strong knowledge of both the products and services offered by their company and the relevant financial and costing bases.
As the role entails face to face meetings with clients, interpersonal skills and the ability to think on your feet are important attributes, as of course is the ability to close a sale.
The role is a challenging one, with sales targets and deadlines to be met. Technical sales staff are often paid a relatively modest basic wage, with the rest of their salary being commission based. The most successful sales staff can achieve high annual earnings.
Not to be confused with technical sales, the role of the technical support officer requires a good level and breadth of technical knowledge.
As a technical support officer, you’ll take calls from customers or colleagues who are experiencing hardware or software problems. You’ll be expected to diagnose and troubleshoot these problems, often remotely.
Interpersonal and communication skills are just as important as technical ability, as a technical support officer will often be dealing with people who have little or no IT knowledge or skills. Indeed, many of the problems that he or she will be presented with are attributable to the user rather than the system.
It’s a challenging, varied and satisfying role, as well as being a very important one.
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