I have loved computers since I was a kid and have been fascinated by the way computers work ever since. As I grew up, I started spending a lot of time on my computer during school holidays and after school, which eventually led to me becoming an IT professional and working as an IT consultant in various roles.
This article is aimed at those who may be thinking about a career in IT or have decided to pursue it and just need some guidance on how to do it.
It contains lots of information that has helped me over the years with advice on how to get into the profession from someone who knows what they are talking about!
How can you become an IT professional?
To become an IT professional, the first thing you need to do is understand what credentials employers are looking for. Two main elements make up a typical IT professional: knowledge and experience.
Knowledge can be gained by studying for a qualification in computer science or a related field. You can also gain knowledge through self-study (applying yourself!) and practical experience. In addition to this, practical experience is essential, so it’s worth having some sort of work placement or internship during your studies to get some hands-on time in an organization.
Experience is gained through working with computers in some capacity, whether it be fixing PC’s in a shop or working as a systems administrator at an ISP. It’s best to get practical experience before you apply for jobs because it looks much better than theoretical knowledge on your CV!
Computer science qualifications are not the only way to become an IT professional. You could also start off in another field but move over later down the line. However, gaining a computer science qualification provides you with more opportunities when trying to find work as there are fewer people who have such qualifications than those without them.
Do I need a degree?
No, you don’t need a degree to get a job in IT. Many jobs require no formal qualifications at all. However, if you want to become an IT professional (where you will be designing and implementing solutions), then a degree is usually necessary. If you’re going to become an employee at a large corporation, you will usually need a bachelor’s or master’s degree, and very often, the higher your qualifications are, the better!
The most popular specialisms within Computer Science are Software Engineering and Networking/Systems Administration (also known as CS and NISP, respectively). Software Engineering focuses more on programming, while Networking/Systems Administration focuses more on networking and administering server environments.
A degree in computer science will give you the most variety and flexibility when it comes to finding a job in IT, but there are plenty of other degrees that will also be useful. It is best if your degree has some practical element because employers have told me time and time again that they don’t like graduates who know nothing about computers except theoretical knowledge.
Some jobs will require specific qualifications such as CISCO certifications or Microsoft certifications, but these are becoming less important over time. Many employers don’t even ask for them anymore because they feel that they can train someone to do their job if they’re good enough.
So do you need to get a Master’s or Ph.D.? No, if you’ve got some practical experience and knowledge and can show that you know what you are doing, it is not necessary!
Should I take an internship/work placement?
My answer would be yes. This gives you a good insight into how business works while giving complete hands-on experience too! It also looks great when applying for full-time roles afterward since employers like seeing candidates who have gained practical experience rather than just theoretical knowledge alone. This could also lead to a permanent position later down the line, so always remember that!
What sort of work can I expect?
A typical IT day consists mainly of 3 things: programming/testing/debugging software, implementing new technologies into an organization, and much more recently, security tasks such as firewalling, intrusion detection, etc. Anything from managing databases to deploying new hardware and so on would be classed as IT work. There is no set way in which most jobs are done, but there is always a technical element involved in whatever you do.
One of the best things about IT is that there is no typical day. Every day can be different, which makes things much more exciting and challenging. You’ll have to deal with all sorts of issues when you’re fixing/troubleshooting/supporting systems, and this requires you to have good troubleshooting skills and plenty of patience!
The problems that occur range from simple end-user support issues such as setting up email accounts for new users and larger-scale problems such as failed hard drives in servers.
Additionally, most organizations have policies in place regarding what you can and cannot do, so sometimes you may not solve a problem immediately because the corporate policy ties your hands. Having a good understanding of IT policies is thus very important.
IT is a great profession to go into, as you’ll always be learning new things about computers and technology in general. There’s a constant demand for IT professionals in nearly every industry to work around. It’s also a very rewarding job as you can see the results of your hard work on a daily basis and it makes a real difference in everyday life for lots of people!