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IT is no different to every other sector. It’s a broad term for all the jobs and industries that sit under the umbrella of Information and Technology. That is, making sure companies have the hardware and software they need to deliver their product, and a support mechanism to utilise it. You can imagine this has changed a lot over the years as technology has evolved, meaning that an increasing number of roles fall into this category.
You can focus on the technical side of IT, e.g. software development, website development, gaming, quality assurance and testing, cyber security or IT support. Or, you can focus on the business side of IT, e.g. Tech consulting, Tech sales, or Tech Project Management. At this point, it might be worth you reflecting on your key skills and what you most want to get out of a job. This might dictate whether you are more interested in the technical side or the business side of things. If you're interested in software development, now would be a good time to check out our Software Development section back on the Explore Careers page!
Let's take a look at a few specific roles:
IT Technician: This is someone who helps other people to use their computer (or other device). Maybe there is an issue with how it works or they don’t understand how to use it. A technician may work in house for a company or for a tech support company supporting many groups of people.
Tech Consultant: This is someone who works in IT, but advises other businesses on how they can improve and use their IT systems better. This job is more project based and will probably require you to travel. If you are choosing to go to university and are keen to enter an IT career, studying one of the following subjects will help you secure a graduate job in IT:
-Computer Science (this is quite a good one for keeping your options open)
With non tech focused degrees you may have to take a 1 year conversion course or take a more junior role If you choose to go straight into a job when you leave school, there are a couple of different options open to you. Which one you go for, depends on the highest qualification you have and your individual career ambitions.
Another option is to go straight into training on the job - and if you're looking to gain real world experience from the offset, an IT support apprenticeship might be the best option for you. If GCSEs are your highest qualification, we recommend you apply for a level 2 or level 3 Apprenticeship. If A levels are your highest qualification, we recommend you apply for a level 3, 4 or above Apprenticeship. The reason it’s a range rather than clear cut is because each Apprenticeship is slightly different and requires different skills. Sometimes these are skills you learnt in school and sometimes it isn’t and you need to upskill yourself before you apply.
Even though an interest in technology is important and qualifications in STEM subjects will leave you in a strong position to start a career in IT, some of the most important characteristics are soft skills like: attention to detail, ability to communicate with a variety of different stakeholders, and a willingness to keep learning new technologies and systems. If this sounds like you, check out some of our upskilling tips below to launch a career in IT.
Take this online course with the Open University: Computers and Computer Systems to give you a really solid grounding in the essentials
This Alison on Microsoft Digital Literacy is also well worth taking, as you'll need to make sure you feel super confident with all office tools that your colleagues will be using in day-to-day work
Research and make sure you can confidently explain: the difference between hardware and software; the difference between IT Support roles and coding; what DNS stands for and what is it used for? If the audio wasn't working on your computer, what would you check? And can you identify a few Firewalls?
If you can, try to get a part time job in a mobile phone shop or a computer superstore to gain great knowledge of different tech products. If this is not possible, a job in retail or hospitality will still help you gain valuable employability skills and give you confidence in the workplace. Check out our post on how to get work experience when you don't have any work experience if you're looking for some tips.