An information technology specialist maintains and builds all of the computer products we use today. From designing websites and business applications, such as spreadsheets and presentation software, to setting up and monitoring network and computer systems, upgrading software products and creating and customizing databases, the information technology specialist is involved. This profession is responsible for helping a business run efficiently because companies lose time and money when computers do not work and systems go down. The information technology specialist performs many jobs, and their titles vary by business. Some information technology specialists create and maintain programs, some are network administrators, and software engineers design complex systems. But, no matter what they do, they share a common goal: to improve the business function.
The background of most information technology specialists is a degree in computer science, analytical skills, and software, hardware, and telecommunications knowledge. As the technology field continues to grow, communication and business skills are important. Some support positions, such as system administration specialists, can get jobs in this field by completing certificate programs. Other database or computer service positions can be obtained through on-the-job training; however, a degree or certificate is suggested. One strategic move that many people consider is to major in computer science, however, obtain a minor or second major in another subject. Industries, such as those in pharmaceutical, biotechnology, or medical fields need people who have specialized knowledge of their fields.
Along with formalized degrees, the information technology industry provides certifications that are recognized. The CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional), the CCSA (Checkpoint Certified Security Administrator), CCSE (Checkpoint Certified Security Expert), and the SCSE (Symantec Certified Security Engineer) are very valuable credentials for those people interested in pursuing a career in information security. There are many networking and system administration certification programs that provide competitive edges over other applicants. The information technology salary is higher for those people with certificates than noncertified employees. Vendor certificates from companies like Red Hat, Microsoft, Cisco, or Novell are the most respected.
Education and certifications are important in getting the job, but once in the field, continuous learning must occur in order to remain competitive. At this point, most companies bear the expense of paying to update employee skills on the latest technologies; however, the individual should have an interest to learn new technologies and stay abreast of the latest trends. Continuous learning can take place in many ways, with online discussions, books, conferences, classes, virtual mediums, and blogs.
There are many career tracks within the information technology profession. Some are creative, while others are engineering and support-oriented. Creative positions in information technology are usually web developers, technical producers, and webmasters. A webmaster is usually the person who maintains and manages an organization's website and is responsible for its architecture and design. The webmaster may create and edit content and work cross-functionally with other business units. A bachelor in computer science is the minimum degree for an information technology specialist. The average salaries are between $60,000 and $80,000; however, with experience and education, the specialist can make more than $100,000. The average salary for an information technology director is $161,000 a year with top salaries more than $200,000.
Last Updated: 08/20/2013