Introduction to IT and Technology
One of the fastest growing sectors in the business world, IT and technology provides an indispensable service to almost every industry, from fashion to finance. As a result, it’s increasingly rare to find a company - big or small - without an IT department, which range in size from a handful of personnel to a hundred. Constantly evolving, the sector encompasses a diverse range of roles and skills, although these generally fall into six categories:
- IT service provision
- Business change and project management
- Strategy and planning
- Procurement and management support
- IT ancillary skills
With so many different roles, the sector offers a diverse range of career paths, from consultancy and coding to cyber security, making it one of the most accessible, interesting and secure industries for new graduates.
What roles are open to me?
If you’re interested in IT and technology, there’s a wide range of career paths to choose from. App development and cyber security are increasingly important sectors, while business-focussed system design is also a popular field.
As a general rule, graduate roles tend to focus on IT service provision and programming/development, with candidates diversifying into managerial, strategic and consultancy roles as they gain experience. Some examples of popular roles include:
- App Developer
- Hardware Engineer
- IT Analyst
- IT Consultant
- IT Technical Support
- Software Design/development
- Systems Administrator
- Systems Design
- Web Design
Once they’ve gained experience, many candidates choose to become contractors, enabling them to work on different projects for a range of companies. Others will develop into senior roles within one company. As IT skills are transferable and, in general, globally recognised, there are also many opportunities to work and develop your career abroad.
Although most companies have an IT department, there are some major IT and technology companies that are particularly famous, such as Apple, Microsoft, Dell, IBM, Samsung and Sony.
In recent years, the ever-expanding number of technology startups has added a new dimension to the industry. As a result, companies such as Improbable (video games), Lyst (online shopping) and Qubit (website creation) are now another port of call for many graduates looking to break into the industry.
What qualifications and skills do I need?
Graduates will normally need a degree in electronic engineering or computing to secure a place on a graduate scheme, though conversion courses exist for those with degrees in other disciplines. Many employers will also want to see that you’re informed about new developments in the industry, so it’s important to keep up to date and to expand your skills set wherever possible.
IT and technology is one of the best industries for non-graduates to break into, and there are many entry-level roles and apprenticeships available for school leavers. As with graduates, it’s important that you’re able to demonstrate a strong interest in the sector, and work experience or an internship will stand you in good stead with future employers.
As a constantly evolving industry, the opportunities for training within IT and technology are not only numerous, they are essential. As a result, many companies offer employees the opportunity to study for professional qualifications linked to their role, to ensure they keep up to speed with new developments and can advance their skills set in line with new innovations.
The application process varies depending on the company. One of the most rigorous is Microsoft, which follows the steps below:
- Application form
- Screening interview
- Technical interview
- Interview day - multiple back-to-back interviews
Other companies have a simplified application process that follows steps similar to these:
Salaries vary according to the role and company. The average starting salary for graduates is generally £25,000 to £35,000, although it may be less at smaller companies or startups. As your career progresses your salary will increase depending on your role and experience, with some senior staff at large corporations earning £160,000+.
Are there any downsides?
Often seen as boring, the IT and technology industry is actually one of the most forward-thinking and innovative sectors around. Aside from this negative preconception, downsides can include long hours and a heavy workload. Many jobs also require an extremely specific, non-negotiable skills set, which can rule out many candidates.
Is it right for me?
From graphic design to technical support, if you’re technologically minded and passionate about new innovations in the field, there’s probably a job that’s right for you. While long hours and a high-pressure workload won’t suit everyone, competitive pay, great prospects and the opportunity to innovate using up-to-the-minute technology are all big draws to the field. Sounds like you? Visit our forum to find out more.
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