As the world continues to evolve to achieve full digitization in all spheres of life, the demand for information technology (IT) specialist is projected to increase.
Although IT related jobs are stressful and often demand a high level of skills in computer technology, they are well known to be financially rewarding.
Generally, information technology is an umbrella term that houses a variety of career paths all which come with different responsibilities.
However, despite the differences in job titles, many of the skills in this field can be used interchangeably since they all involve working with computers, software, networks, and other technologies.
If you are considering taking one of the many career paths in Information technology, it is important to look into some of the most popular IT positions, outlined below;
Software engineers is a term used interchangeably with software developer, or system developer to describe someone who has the knowledge and skills necessary for designing and programming system-level software, operating systems and database systems.
Apart from writing and testing code using development tools, software engineers may be required by their employers to talk to clients and colleagues so to examine and find solutions to a system.
This means that it is not uncommon for software developers to work in groups with other developers or IT specialist, and thus, should be team-players and possess strong communications skills in addition to their technical knowledge.
New entrants into the software engineering profession, tend to specialize as web developers, test automation developers or mobile developers.
After gaining experience and demonstrating full mastery of their skills, they are likely to advance into senior positions such as software architects or even team managers of a software developers’ group in an organization or firm. And as one progresses to higher ranks, so does the salary increase.
Qualifications and training requirements
The minimum requirement for computer software engineering jobs is usually a bachelor’s degree in computer science, with an emphasis on software developing, or any other IT-related degree.
Within this four-year degree program, you will learn all the relevant skill and techniques required for systems and technologies.
However, they are some other employers who do not specify a degree subject and will be willing to train you if you show interest and capacity to learn the relevant skills.
To increase your odds of landing a job once you are done studying, it is always a good idea to participate in internship programs while in school.
This will not only enhance your resume but also equip you with the skills and valuable experience required by employers. Besides, it is common for an internship to lead to full-time employment.
Once you have a full-time job, it is recommended that you further your education and training so as to keep up with the dynamic changes in technology.
This will ensure that your knowledge and skills are up to date, thus employers will find you relevant.
With the increase in digital record keeping, due to computers becoming integrated into businesses, hospitals and government institutions; organizations both public and private are finding the need for technology specialists to help them protect their data from unauthorized access.
Thus, database administrators (DBAs) are individuals trained and charged with the responsibility of optimizing database technologies.
Their main duties involve identifying and solving a company’s information management needs as well as ensuring that the database systems work correctly.
As such, database administrators work in large corporations, hospitals, banks, media houses, and any other institutions that have massive digital data systems.
Additionally, database administrators can also work in collaboration with other IT specialists for example network architects, to design, test, and evaluate systems such as local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), internet and corporate intranet.
The average salary of DBAs varies depending on one’s experience level and job position. New entrants into this field take home an average salary of $43,900 while high ranking DBAs with years of experience are paid as much as $104,758.
The difference in salary is also contributed by the variance in the job description, whereby database administrator III and IV are paid more as compared to Oracle database administrators and database managers.
Qualifications and training requirements
There is no defined degree program for database administration, instead, one is supposed to use the skills and knowledge learned in other degree programs such as computer science, management information systems and computer information systems.
In some cases, it can be self-taught as long as you have an information-technology-related degree. In addition to your degree, you will be required to have DBA certifications in order to be considered fully qualified.
Oracle database administrator and Microsoft (MS) SQL Server are most in-demand certifications for professional database administrators. Other popular certifications include; IBM Certified Database Administrator and SAP Certified Technology Certifications.
It is important to note that before assuming a position as a database administrator, in most cases, you will have to work as a database developer or data analyst.
As a database developer, you work will be designing and implementing database technologies, collecting information to put into the database as well as analyzing database efficiency.
On the other hand, if you start out as a data analyst your duty will be to collect and analyze data contained in databases.
Both of these careers are designed to prepare to take up the duties of a database administrator, a position you will assume once you complete at least 3 years of working as a data analyst or database developer.
Computer Network Architect
A computer network architect, also known as a network engineer, is responsible for designing computer networks including local area networks and wide area networks, commonly referred to as LANs and WANs respectively.
In a business setup, these network plans facilitate data communication between computers within the same working environment.
It is also the duty of a computer network architect to present to the management a data communication network layout plan and explain how it can help the organization achieve its objectives.
Additionally, computer network architects are required to create models to help predict future network needs of the organization they are working for.
This involves analyzing the current data traffic and estimating how its growth will affect the network as well as analyzing the company’s requirement in order to develop technology roadmaps that point to solutions.
In order to help an organization accomplish its day-to-day activities, network engineers also have to ensure that the hardware and software network technologies are up to date.
Qualifications and requirements
Similar to other information technology careers, to become a professional computer network architect you need to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, electric and computer engineering, information systems or a related field.
Since as a network engineer you will probably end up working up for corporates to help them set up efficient network systems, you will need extensive knowledge of an organization’s business plan in order to design a network that can help the organization achieve its goals.
Therefore, some employers may require network architects to have a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in information systems.
The master’s program generally takes two years of study for the postgraduate level and includes both business and computer-related courses.
In addition to your degree, you must have at least 5 to 10 years working experience in Information Technology field or other computer-related fields.
Additionally, you might also consider taking computer architect certification courses provided by various software vendors and product firms.
These certificates are valuable to aspiring network architects but may require one to start with lower certification levels and build up to higher levels.
For instance, if you were to pursue Cisco certifications, it is recommended you start with lower levels – the Cisco Certified Design Associate and Cisco Certified Design Professional- since they will lead you into networking infrastructure jobs which will eventually land you into architecture-level positions.
Computer System Analyst
Among all the popular IT careers, computer system analyst has not gained much attention, yet it is one of the most rewarding and satisfying careers in the IT field.
Generally, this career is a blend of both business and technology world, in that, it tries to analyze a company’s computer systems as well as business procedures in order to recommend strategic changes designed to increase productivity while reducing costs and achieving business goals.
Apart from analyzing the costs and benefits of implementing new systems, computer system analysts have an obligation to oversee the upgrading of existing computer systems and installations, in addition to training employees on how to use the newly installed systems.
When designing new computer systems, most computer system analysts use various techniques such as data-modeling that creates rules for a computer to follow when presenting data, thereby helping analyst make decisions faster.
However, analysts do not design these systems on their own; they work closely with programmers and computer engineers, who not only help in designing the systems but also solve problems that arise after the initial system is set up.
Most computer system analysts specialize in certain types of computer systems that are specific to the organization they work for.
For example, an analyst working in a bank has specialized in financial computer systems. This is to mean that computer system analysts are general purpose analysts, who can specialize in a particular aspect of a computer system.
System designers, for example, are computer system analysts who specialize in helping organizations choose hardware and software systems that best suits them.
Therefore, they translate the long-term business goals of an organization into technical solutions.
Another area of specialization is being a software quality assurance (QA) analyst, whose main duty is to test the systems designed.
They also diagnose problems in the system and write reports to management recommending ways to improve the system.
The programmer analysts, on the other hand, not only design and update the system’s software but also do more coding and debugging as compared to the other analysts.
Qualifications and requirements
There are no certification tests you need to pass to become a professional computer system analyst. You will, however, need to have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer science or any other related fields.
Since a career as a computer system analyst does not entirely revolve around computer skills, it is recommended you also take up business courses in addition to your degree.
Some employers prefer applicants have Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) or those who have majored in information system management.
In some cases, employers also hire applicants with business degrees or liberal arts degrees but have shown skills in information technology or computer programming.
There other special cases which may demand a computer system analyst to acquire extra skills relevant to their workplace.
For example, an analyst working in a hospital may be required to background or coursework in health management; similarly, an analyst working in a bank may need to understand finance.
In addition to their knowledge in computer and business, computer system analyst ought to have analytical skills in order to interpret complex information and decide on the best route to take when working on a project.
Moreover, since computer analysts’ job will involve working together as a team with other IT experts, as well as organization’s management, they should be able to communicate effectively and articulate complex ideas to the management in a way that both will understand.
In combination with their communication skills, analysts should demonstrate good teaching skills, especially when teaching employees of an organization on how to use the newly installed systems.
In order to keep their skills and knowledge up to date with the dynamic technology, computer system analysts ought to advance their education.
Besides, the more knowledge one acquires, the higher the chances of earning a decent salary and climbing the management ladder.
Computer analysts with advanced degrees tend to be paired more as compared to those with a bachelor’s degree only.
Careers in information technology are predicted to grow way more than other careers outside IT.
It is therefore important to have a clear understanding of some of the various career paths in IT, especially if you are considering taking a career in this dynamic field.
The outlined careers above will help shed some light on some of the careers you may want to pursue.