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Careers in IT

Information Technology (IT for short) is a broad term covering all aspects of managing and processing information. IT professionals design, develop, support, and manage computer software, hardware, and networks such as the Internet. The applications of these technologies are all around us. In fact, today you can find IT in every walk of life. For example, IT professionals develop everything from

  • computer software used to control electronic appliances and computer generated animation in a blockbuster movie to

  • satellites and systems that enable space scientists to conduct remote space exploration.



IT can offer a wide range of career opportunities. Let us, therefore, examine

1. some important careers in the IT industry and 
2. the academic qualifications and certifications required for a job in the IT industry. 


Careers in IT

Careers in IT include the following: 

1. Software engineers
2. Computer scientists
3. Computer programmers
4. Database administrators
5. Systems analysts
6. Network specialists
7. User interface designers
8. Web designers
9. Technical communicators


1. Software engineers

Software engineers or software developers 

1. analyze users’ needs and then
2. design, create, and modify general computer applications software or specialized utility programs. 

These professionals are usually skilled at programming. However, they are more concerned with analyzing and solving programming problems than with writing program code. 


2. Computer scientists

The title ‘computer scientist’ can be applied to a wide range of computer professionals who 

· design computers and the software that runs these computers, 
· develop Information Technologies, and 
· develop and adapt principles for applying computers to new uses. 

Computer scientists are distinguished from other IT professionals by the higher level of theoretical expertise they possess and the innovative techniques they develop to solve complex problems and to create new technology. Computer scientists generally work as theorists, researchers, or inventors. 


3. Computer programmers

Computer programmers write, test, and maintain the programs or software enable computers to perform their functions. They also conceive, design, and test logical structures for solving problems using computers. Technical innovations in programming — advanced computing technologies and sophisticated languages and programming tools — have redefined and elevated the role of the programmer. 

Programmers are often grouped into two broad types: 

1. Applications programmers 
2. Systems programmers 

Applications programmers usually focus on business, engineering, or science. They write software to perform a specific task, such as a program to track inventory within an organization. They may also revise existing packaged software. Systems programmers, on the other hand, maintain and control systems software such as operating systems, networked systems, and database systems. 


4. Database administrators (DBAs)

DBAs are responsible for database accuracy, efficiency, maintenance, and development. They control access to an organization’s information and ensure that it is updated accurately and regularly. As part of a database team, they collaborate in the design and development of databases to meet ongoing user needs. 

A DBA’s work activities may include: 

Ø coordinating changes to computer databases, 
Ø writing code and testing computer programs, 
Ø controlling user access to databases, and 
Ø answering user questions. 

DBAs should 

· have an excellent knowledge of computers and organizational structures, 
· be good with detail, and 
· be able to communicate well (verbally and in writing). 

DBAs are not confined to technical posts. They may also advance to managerial and leadership positions. DBAs can also teach in educational or corporate institutions. However, for this they will require higher-level educational qualifications. 


5. Systems analysts

Systems analysts (also called systems architects) solve computer problems and enable computer technology to meet the specific needs of each organization. They help their organization realize the maximum benefit from its investment in equipment, personnel, and business processes. 

Thus, the responsibilities of a systems analyst might include planning and developing new computer systems or adapting an existing system’s resources to additional operations. 

Systems analysts usually work with a specific type of system. Depending on the organization they work for, they could be using business, accounting, and financial systems, or even scientific and engineering systems. 


6. Network specialists

Network specialists are responsible for the administration and security of the computer networks used within their organizations. 

The duties of a network administrator may include 

Ø planning for and installing network hardware and software, 
Ø adding and deleting files to the network servers, 
Ø maintaining the printers and other peripherals connected to the network, 
Ø training staff to use the network, and 
Ø troubleshooting network problems and answering the questions posed by staff members. 

The duties of a network security specialist may include 

Ø regulating access to various computer files, 
Ø monitoring file use to ensure that only authorized users access particular files, 
Ø changing passwords, 
Ø maintaining and changing employee information and ensuring its confidentiality, and
Ø backing up files to guarantee their safety in case of network problems. 


7. User interface designers

Interface designers design the user interface of a computer system. 

The user interface is the communication system between the user and the computer. It consists of what you see on the computer screen when you use a program and a set of decisions the designer makes about that interaction. The interface 

· determines how a user is led through a program or process,
· provides a conceptual structure for organizing large amounts of information, and 
· offers tools for filtering and retrieving information. 

8. Web designers

Web designers are responsible for the day-to-day design, creation, and management of Web sites belonging to organizations, corporations, or individuals. 

A Web designer must have a thorough knowledge of computer programming and management information systems. Web designers should also have writing, design, and copy editing skills. They should be comfortable working closely with clients to develop Web sites that meet the client's requirements. 


9. Technical communicators

Technical communicators have a number of different career options. The following are some of the activities performed by technical communicators: 

Web Designers

Multimedia and Web developers write or edit online information in many forms. Examples are online help, multimedia products, and Web pages. 

Technical Writers and Editors

Technical writers and editors design, write, and edit manuals and online help. They may also write and edit scientific and technical information for a non-technical audience such as managers, government decision-makers, and the public. 

Science Writers and Editors

Science writers and editors help engineers and scientists to write technical papers, scientific journal articles, and other scientific documents. 

Academic qualifications

A wide variety of career opportunities are available in computing and IT. These careers demand a wide range of skill sets. A computer engineer designing chips needs skills and training that differ from those of a network specialist who is responsible for installing and maintaining computers on a network. Thus, there cannot be a universally accepted academic qualification for a job as an ‘IT professional’. 

For most IT jobs, the minimum academic qualification is a Bachelor’s degree in engineering or a Masters degree in Computer Applications (MCA). However, employers often consider candidates with a Bachelor’s degree in science or commerce with a postgraduate diploma in computer science or applications from a recognized university. Of course, having relevant work experience also plays a vital role in a candidate’s employability. 



Certifications

In today’s competitive market, it is not sufficient to acquire a college degree to get into the IT industry. Many companies are now looking for candidates with experience in the practical as well as the theoretical aspects of IT. 

Keeping this in mind, many IT giants have started training programs in the latest technologies. Organizations such as Microsoft, CISCO, and Sun offer certifications that give a candidate an edge over the others. The following are the most popular and preferred certifications in the industry.

1. Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE)
2. Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP)
3. Microsoft Certified Applications Developer (MCAD)
4. Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator
5. Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD)
6. Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA)
7. Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT)
8. Red hat Certified Engineer (RHCE)
9. CISCO Certified Network Administrator (CCNA)
10. CISCO Certified Network Professional (CCNP)



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