You’ve completed your degree, but now what? With a degree under your belt, the IT career paths for graduates can be overwhelming. Development, or Networking? Project Management, or Cyber Security? With so many corners of the industry experiencing such a shortage of applicants, you’re in a strong position. But if you don’t know where you want to end up, how can you decide what direction to step into?
Development roles are more specialised in various programming languages depending on employer demands. Development can also be split into a number of niches, including web development, software, game design and e-commerce. All of these areas of development require the same fundamentals, but wildly different technical knowledge, focused around the design, installation, testing and maintenance of software systems. Development is a great field because of the capacity to inspire change – it’s focused around efficiency and innovation. If you love finding new improvements, or making tweaks to improve usability, development is for you.
Project Management is almost a hybrid of professions, with IT knowledge and expertise obviously being essential, but combined with a more (no surprise) managerial expertise, planning out projects, keeping them to budget and scope, and driving a project along. Project Management is typically a path that someone with developer experience might go down, but it’s open to anyone with the technical knowledge needed to lead a project.
For the more team focused, these roles can be immensely rewarding in a personal sense, and can also lead on to roles with huge responsibilities. You can expect to work closely with a number of departments and colleagues and have a real opportunity to shape your company’s future.
Cyber security is now one of the strongest career choices in the industry. After a number of recent high-profile security breaches and attacks, the demand for IT security experts is continuing to grow, as with companies worried about the potential impact of a breach. It requires a lot of technical expertise, as well as a practical knowledge of how systems are breached, and how best to mitigate these threats.
The job typically involves designing firewalls, regulating access to your network and shielding your network from latest threats and viruses. Fortunately, due to the lack of well-qualified professionals, the average salary in IT security is also more substantial. An entrant could expect to see around £25,000 but as this industry grows there is enormous potential for progression.
Entry-level IT Roles
1st and 2nd line support roles are what many outsiders regard as the length and breadth of the industry, but they’re actually gateways to many roles with more responsibilities. These roles focus on providing front-line support to the entire business; everything from setting up a new starter at the company to troubleshooting problems with specialist software.
Virtually every business in the UK requires 1st and 2nd Line Support in some capacity, and the roles are an excellent foundation for more technical, and better paid positions. You can expect to build relationships with the entire business and be a fundamental lifeline in the event of a crisis. For those interested in more senior networking roles, this provides an excellent foundation.
Like all industries, IT is subject to constant progression. However, unlike many industries, those who aren’t proactive in acquiring new knowledge can get left behind. Software updates, new hardware and alternate programming languages are just some of the changes you can expect to adapt to wherever your IT career takes you. Regular refreshers and training programmes are an essential component to carving out a successful career with longevity.
But if you find an area that you’re passionate about, this should come naturally, with your desire to be in the know keeping you at the front of your field. With that in mind, it’s important not to let the future pass you by. If you think you’ve recognised potential in an emerging technology, you shouldn’t be afraid to arm yourself with knowledge that could help you further down the line.
These career pathways are barely a snapshot of the industry. As companies require increasingly specialised professionals, so if you recognise a specific technology that you are fluent with, or enjoy using then there may well be a perfect role for you.
As an entrant into the world of IT, the most important thing to do is to research what interests you, and carve a pathway of how to reach that role. No one knows exactly what they want to do forever, but in IT that initial spark of interest can be moulded into an immensely rewarding career.