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What Skills Do You Need for an IT job?

There are two things you need for working in information technology–the right knowledge and the right skills. Even if you don’t have all the necessary skills yet to start a new career in IT, the good news is that you can build your skill set during an IT program at a technical college. When you consider a career as an IT specialist you should also think about what particular roles are available and the skills that are needed to succeed.

10 Different IT Roles

It’s important to keep in mind that the IT industry is constantly evolving in tandem with the latest technological innovations. The following occupations are among the most significant within the larger banner of IT specialists:

Job #1: Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Network and computer system administrators are responsible for the larger-scale operation and administration of computer networks. Network administrators coordinate operations on a company’s network for tasks like mass backups. They might also work alone on an individual system, to manage and diagnose performance issues.

Job #2: Information Security Analysts

Information security analysts work with data related to IT security systems. They watch for potential threats in real-time and analyze logged data for hints about their underlying vulnerability. Whether it is the need for a firewall or other security protocol, the information security analyst plays defense in the cybersecurity war.

Job #3: Database Administrators and Architects

Database administrators and architects design, organize and maintain computer databases. This involves constructing databases to fit a company’s needs or streamlining databases for better performance. They might also migrate databases and upgrade a system.

Job #4: Computer Systems Analysts

Computer systems analysts work with a company’s overarching technology. They’ll look through data to find potential improvements. For example, they might notice heavy network usage from automated processes which could be partitioned for better efficiency.

Job #5: Computer Support Specialists

Computer support specialists help maintain the networks within a company. However, they can also act as tech support or as a liaison between IT and other departments. For example, a computer support specialist might help walk someone through the process of using a company’s proprietary software.

Job #6: Computer Network Architects

Computer network architects are responsible for the design, deployment, and documentation of digital networks. They design the specs and interoperability of multiple server subsystems and the networks used between them.

Additional Jobs related to IT, outside of networking and computer support include:

Job #7: Web Developers and Digital Designers

Web developers focus on writing advanced code for websites. This includes advanced JavaScript interfaces or languages that directly communicate with databases. The digital designer works alongside the web developer to handle elements related to presentation and usability. For example, digital designers would work on cascading style sheets, menu structure, and graphical elements. Both positions can work in tandem with one another to handle the totality of a website.

Job #8: Computer Programmers

Computer programmers are similar to software developers as they both write computer code. However, the designation of computer programmer is usually associated with enterprise-level or internal code. For example, a computer programmer might write and test code libraries used by other programmers within the company.

Job #9: Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers

Software developers write programs for many different computing devices and platforms. This includes apps for smartphones and desktop programs for Windows or Mac. Quality assurance analysts and testers work with programmers to diagnose and analyze these programs to find bugs or usability issues.

Job #10: Computer and Information Research Scientists

Computer and information research scientists work on the cutting edge of new technological innovations. In fact, they’re often responsible for the creation of new innovations themselves. One of the most common examples is the development of new or improved algorithms.

The Skills You Need for an IT Job

People often assume that IT jobs are largely centered around computers. And it’s true that this does constitute a large part of a job. However, IT specialists use both social (soft) skills alongside technical (hard) skills to complete their duties. Excelling within the industry means balancing proficiency in both areas.

Soft Skills for IT Jobs

Soft skills are used to manage teams and communicate with less technically minded coworkers. For example, an IT professional would use soft skills to help coworkers manage newly deployed technologies, while creative thinking skills also fall under the larger banner of soft skills. These are some of the soft skills that an IT job needs to succeed:

Communication – IT is often thought of as an advanced and confusing topic by people looking in from the outside. This is from the public’s lack of familiarity with IT’s technical terminology. Strong communication skills are needed to work as a liaison and discuss technical issues with less technologically minded coworkers. However, it’s also an important skill for interdepartmental work. Strong communication skills can help generate new ideas and identify potential concerns.

Communication can be the foundation of most other soft skills. It’s essentially the skill used for anything related to non-technological dispersal and the growth of ideas in IT. Everything from whiteboarding ideas to creating schedules is impacted by communication skills.

Teamwork – most people think of a solitary IT specialist sitting behind a screen. And it’s true that IT does involve tasks performed in isolation, but teamwork is a vitally important part of the IT industry. Consider a typical server room. They contain rows upon rows of advanced machines. In situations where something goes wrong, no one person will be able to handle everything. It instead calls for a well-coordinated effort to work on multiple points of hardware and software at the same time. Doing this in unison necessitates a team effort.

This is also true for modern programming. Programming in a business environment involves multiple people handling distinct pieces of a larger codebase. It’s not something that people can do without strong team management skills, and you’ll find similar examples in almost every area of IT.

Problem Solving – many of the situations you’ll encounter in IT are textbook examples of one problem directly related to an easily diagnosed cause. However, it’s just as common to find mysteries that need careful analysis. Fixing technical issues can require a combination of education and applied problem-solving skills.

Attention to Detail – the term information technology highlights just how much data is a part of the job. When you work in IT, you’re juggling vast amounts of information. This information comes in several formats. You might analyze logs from a server breach one day or go through the various compatibility issues involved with connecting different networks the next. However, much of IT simply comes down to a careful analysis of information to find patterns.

When you work in IT, a small issue can end up being quite significant. Even something as minor as a version iteration in a library used within a system can have massive consequences if mishandled or overlooked. To excel in information technology is to be aware of your work environment and all the technologies you’re working with.

Critical Thinking – technology is ultimately defined by causality. Every effect seen in information technology comes about through a precise chain of cause and effect. In fact, even random numbers generated by computers aren’t truly random. There’s always a pattern to be found. And it’s critical thinking that lets IT specialists travel along this chain of cause and effect to discover the root issue that is causing a problem. Likewise, it’s an important part of system architecture. System architects need to put aside brand loyalty, preferred styles, and similar concerns to create an objective analysis of the best implementation for a designated project.

Hard Skills of IT Jobs

Hard skills describe the technical skillset of an information technology specialist. From networking and cloud computing to project management and technical support, the right set of hard skills can help any IT specialist manage their job more successfully.

Networking – is a skill that involves creating and maintaining digital networks. The most well-known example of networking might be a server room filled with cables and router lights. However, modern networks also incorporate wireless networks. Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and many other wireless technologies are also important networking skills to master.

IT specialists might be called upon to maintain or design a network, and this requires an understanding of the protocols that a network must adhere to function properly. IT specialists will also need to be aware of any special requirements that might come from personal hardware used to access the larger network. For example, employees might need to connect to the work network remotely while using mobile operating systems.

Cloud Computing – takes hardware-based models to a more abstract level through distributed systems. Cloud systems can mirror the same functionality seen in traditional hardware. For example, cloud storage options can be functionally analogous to a standard shared drive.

However, information technology specialists should be able to get the most out of cloud computing. This means using and implementing cloud services that are flexible and provide dynamic benefits not seen with traditional hardware solutions. For example, an IT specialist might set up cloud computing solutions that scale available resources to meet the vastly different computing demands of separate departments.

Project Management – can be seen as the technical mirror of many soft skills. It calls for good communication and active listening of coworkers. Likewise, time management is an essential part of project management.

Project management requires IT specialists to accurately judge both the extent of a problem and the capabilities of the team to solve it. Many managerial techniques related to this process fit into different areas of information technology. For example, scrum management is a specialized agile-based management technique centered around the rapid removal of obstacles.

Technical Support – a hard skill that every IT specialist will need to master is technical support. This involves communication, active listening, and problem-solving. Colleagues will come to an IT specialist with a computer or network problem, and they may be tasked with identifying the proper solution to fix the problem. The IT specialist will also need to explain the fix or plan of action without using industry jargon so that the less-technical employee can understand and execute the solution. Good technical support skills are paramount for any IT specialist to master.

CompTIA and Microsoft – are two of the best-known names in IT certification. CompTIA covers almost every area of modern computing and IT-related technology. While Microsoft’s certification path focuses on the company’s own infrastructure. By earning these certifications an IT professional can gain many of the skills needed for their job.

Both certification options provide specific benefits, but there’s one central point to pursuing certification from either organization. CompTIA and Microsoft certifications provide solid evidence that you’ve mastered the skills involved with any given IT-related subject. This makes it easier for IT specialists to hire team members, assign responsibilities, and prove themselves when entering into new positions.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know what skills you need for an IT job, it is time to learn more about Interactive College of Technology. If you are passionate about information technology and want to build the hard and soft skills needed to succeed, then Interactive College of Technology may be the right school for you. The first step in any journey is always the most difficult, so let us help you take the first step and walk with you every step of the way.

Want to Learn More?

At ICT, our information technology training program offers two different paths to choose from — an in-depth Associate of Science degree in Information Technology and a streamlined diploma program to help you get to work faster.

Let’s take the first step together! Contact us now to learn more.

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