There is quite a bit of variety when it comes to jobs within the IT sector, so there are not many clearly defined points of entry as there are in other professions. Candidates who hold backgrounds in other fields are not necessarily hindered when it comes to applying for IT roles or starting a new career altogether. Employers tend to look for more well-rounded candidates when it comes to transferable skills.
Your career in IT.
We look at:
- senior developer
- systems analyst
- project manager
- graphic design
- sales and marketing
Entering the IT sector.
Education is key when it comes to finding an IT position in the United Kingdom. While employers value candidates who have transferable skills from other fields (and particularly value any highly-attained academic award, like a postgraduate degree), that is not to say it is all they are looking for and there are hard skills gained from IT study that cannot be replicated in other fields. There are quite a few full time and part time courses available through universities around the country and can also be found through distance learning, such as the University of London's International Programmes or the Open University. When looking for academic programmes, it is usually best to find those accredited by the British Computer Society as it is the body that regulates the UK IT industry.
The most common entry route is by becoming a software developer or analyst programmer, who themselves may be found as web designers, database analysts, or first line technical support. The roles tend to be quite similar in their delivery, but different sectors will choose particular traits they wish to promote when it comes to the hiring process.
From here, entry-level IT personnel can usually choose to develop their skills within their existing roles, or work towards another path altogether, while using the leverage gained from their current position to further their career.
Senior developers take on their initial entry roles to a more advanced level. While they do not necessarily move away from the tasks that they were initially assigned, they will usually be promoted to a team leadership position and will become responsible for the training and development of their co-workers. Senior developers will also sometimes find themselves directly responsible for the recruitment of their co-workers, so as to find the ideal fits for their teams and to ensure a smooth handling of the projects. This offers an unrivalled level of responsibility in comparison to positions in other fields, but senior developers must be careful to hire appropriately to ensure their projects do not become cumbersome and inefficient.
Those with a more firm grounding in computing and programming languages may find themselves advancing to become systems analysts. These are the workers who test systems so as to ensure their function and are typically supported by software developers beneath them: often being solely responsible for the checking of their work. It is particularly useful for those who prefer working more independently and without facing customers, as developers tend to work more intimately with the public and clients to reach agreeable solutions that are later implemented by software builders and analysts.
Project management is the complete leadership of a team and encompasses all areas of development, analysis, and client relations. They are responsible for the smooth running of projects and to ensure that all tasks are delegated to the most appropriate worker/department. They will also be responsible for finding solutions to any problems that may arise on a job, or bringing in additional staff, such as consultants, where needed, to address any complications. This, however, must all be done within the budget of the project and must not exceed the overall fund available to a project where feasible.
Less conventional IT careers.
Not every position in IT is focused on programming languages and project development. There are more creative, abstract positions available within IT, such as graphic design, that allow creative individuals to flourish by becoming responsible for the development of images and logos in line with client expectations.
Sales and marketing.
There are also more business-oriented positions available in IT, such as sales and marketing. These place less emphasis on specialist knowledge and more emphasis on commercial acumen, which proves itself incredibly useful for those entering the field with existing qualifications from elsewhere.