Computers are a fact of life today. So it’s only natural that information technology, or IT, is an important part of the present-day workplace and business worlds. There are a variety of careers associated with information technology. And a love for computers could be the first step toward an information technology job.
“They should have an acumen or an interest already in place for computers or math,” says Brad Moses, association director for the eastern district of the Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP). “The main thing is to have an interest or desire.”
Theodor Richardson is the interim chair for Information Technology at South University, which offers IT training in the form of a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in Information Technology and a master’s degree in Information Systems & Technology. He says an information technology education attracts students who want to work a lot with computers.
“It’s a potential career for students who really like problem solving, math, or logic puzzles,” he adds. “They should have any sort of problem-solving interest because that is the majority of what information technology is. It’s really creative problem solving.”
The job outlook for information technology jobs is encouraging. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for computer network, systems, and database administrators, “employment is expected to grow much faster than the average, and job prospects should be excellent.” The BLS says the same for computer and information systems managers. However, outsourcing and off-shoring positions — especially entry-level ones — can be an issue in the information technology profession.
If you’re going to be a techie, you better be darned good because of the competition.
Richardson says many of the back-end positions in the industry get outsourced, leaving front-end, client-based positions as the main point of entry for information technology graduates.
“Students that are going through the IT program and want to find work immediately need to be concentrated in some sort of discipline that can’t be outsourced, or some creative aspect of design,” he advises.
Some positions must stay within the company because of security issues, Richardson says. Those include security administrator, database administrator, and network administrator. Those jobs, however, are not necessarily entry level.
“It’s unlikely they’ll be able to immediately become that, but they can become an assistant and work their way up from there,” Richardson adds.
The competition for entry-level work as an information technology professional is one of the downsides to the global economy, Moses says, adding that he started in the business as a systems analyst and worked his way up through management.
“If you’re going to be a techie, you better be darned good because of the competition,” he says. “If it’s something you could do from home, anyone in the world can do that and they can do it for less. That’s why off-shoring has increased. It’s important when you’re in IT to make sure you’re in an area where it’s important for you to be onsite and important for you to be part of the organization and interface with professionals within that organization.”
A graduate degree on top of an information technology education can help individuals move further in the industry. A Master of Business Administration, like the Accelerated MBA offered through South University, can augment an IT degree nicely, Moses says.
“What employers really want long term is to be able to couple [information technology] with a very good business background so as you develop and grow within an organization, you’re able to talk to the CEO and CFO in terms they understand,” he adds. “They can look to you to take care of things from an operational perspective, which is where your IT background comes in. IT is an integral part of any operations.”
Richardson says that IT experience can be coupled with any existing discipline, such as health care informatics.
“Security has been the big emphasis over the last five years with law enforcement and criminal justice,” he says. “But the medical field is what is now dominating the headlines and where the majority of the funding is going for research.”
Regardless of what type of job an information technology professional pursues, Richardson says an education in the field is a positive step to take because every organization needs IT personnel.
“IT is a very viable route to take,” he explains. “Having IT in your background is a very solid standing within any organization.”
Author: Megan Donley