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A Quick Guide To Potential Roles In IT

Since you’re reading this on the internet, you probably don’t need reminding that IT has changed the world.

While there’s an explosion in the number of creative roles that the internet has created, there’s also the slightly-less-talked-about increase in the number of behind-the-scenes ‘tech’ roles that businesses require to keep their IT lights on.

So, what happens if you’re looking for a role getting hands-on with IT networks? Are there specific skills or qualifications businesses are looking for? Should you be looking for specific roles?

We’ve put together a useful guide that’ll help steer your IT interests in the right direction – and tell you a little more about some of the roles that might be available to you.

Start with what interests you

The world of IT is enormous – and it’s sometimes hard to decide what’s an ‘IT role’ or otherwise.

You may find web developers, designers, and other people in creative roles describe themselves as ‘working in IT’ – but, for the sake of defining some clear edges, we’re going to concentrate on the more ‘traditional’ IT careers – usually involving either the software, hardware, or support required to make up an IT network.

A great place to start thinking about any potential role is to decide what appeals to you – and what you’ve got a natural talent for.

Are you the person always sorting out the internet at home? Have you studied an IT-related A-Level? Do you prefer a hands-on role – or is a desk job a better fit?

Whether you’re entering IT with a long list of qualifications – or you’re fresh out of education and eager to get involved, the role of ‘IT generalist’ is a frequent stepping-on point.

1. IT generalist

A non-specific role when you’ve been studying IT might seem like a bit of a anti-climax – but with many IT roles recruited from within companies, it’s useful to get you ‘foot in the door’ – and it’s especially useful if you want to stand out when the role requires you to apply some of your more specialist knowledge.

Being an IT generalist is a little like being a GP – you might not specialise in one area – but you will need to have a good knowledge that spans a huge range of IT health issues!

A degree-level qualification will certainly make you stand out if you’re aiming for a general role – and while an entry level wage might not be huge (often starting around £19,000) – you’re likely to be the first in the queue if another, more specialist role becomes available.

2. Desktop support

Like an IT generalist, support desk roles tend to require a good all-round working knowledge of the software and equipment that makes up your business’s network.

Support roles often involve a lot of end-user interaction too – so if you get frustrated when people continually lose their passwords – this might not be the role for you!

Generally, you’ll be desk based in this kind of helpdesk role – and, with an increasing number of managed service providers who support businesses remotely, you might find you’re accessing people’s computers remotely far more than actually sitting down in front of them. 

A support role is very much at the ‘people’ end of the IT professions spectrum, and you’re going to need to understand operating systems and the applications that your business uses.

If this sounds like the role for you, you can expect a starting salary of around £22,000 – often more if you’re expected to work outside normal working hours.

3. Network engineer

If you’re hoping to role your sleeves up and get amongst the servers and ethernet cables, the role of network engineer might be one worth exploring.

As well as understanding the devices that make up any networks, an engineer is generally expected to understand the various protocols and programs that allow the devices to communication with one-another.

Within engineer roles, you’ll often also find that there are dedicated specialisms around certain manufacturers products – so you might decide to work toward Microsoft Accreditation – or becoming a Cisco Certified Engineer. 

As you’re involved with a business, your specialist knowledge might be required to explore ways of reducing the operation costs that related to the network or helping to design and expand networks as the needs of the business change.

As a network engineer, you can expect your earnings to begin around £28,000 – increasing significantly as you specialise.

4. Security specialist

There’s virtually no day that passes without an IT security-related news story appearing – and, as the level of IT network sophistication increases, so does the skill of the criminals who want to disrupt those networks for their own gain.

As a security specialist, you’ll need to be at the cutting edge of your trade at all times – so if constant learning appeals to you, security might be your forte.

The idea of understanding firewalls and security software might be an obvious part of the role – but often less-obvious is the need for understand every process that end-users undertake – as well as how people behave using your systems.

It’s only by understanding this fine detail that you can make sure you understand every loophole – and how to make sure nothing slips through. 

As a security specialist, you can expect earnings to begin around £40,000 – but that has the potential to increase significantly based on the size and complexity of the business you work for.

5. Other specialist roles

While an ‘average’ IT department might have a helpdesk, network engineers, and some generalists – larger businesses often have specialist roles beyond that of security analysts and managers. 

VoIP/Internet telephony specialists will look after internet based phone solutions – and how they interact with your companies systems.

Storage specialists will look at where data is kept, who can access it, and what happens when they do. Backup administrators will often work alongside security and storage specialists to ensure data is kept safe in case of emergency or cyber-attack.

6. On-going training

As we’ve already mentioned, it’s not at all uncommon for IT graduates to enter a business at a slightly lower level than they expect – but then to grow their career rapidly from there.

A big part of this involves training – an often-significant cost that employers foot to make sure your knowledge matches their ambitions. 

Emerging from your studies and exploring a career in IT is a hugely exciting prospect – but one thing’s for sure, when you enter such a dynamic and fast-moving industry, your learning and studying has only just begun