Exploring careers in information technology
Learn more about the domains within IT
An important step in choosing a career path is identifying your interests. Learning about your interests will help you identify opportunities to pursue and the topics you are most naturally drawn to, making school and work more motivating and enjoyable.
Skilled IT employees are in extremely high demand in Maryland. The field of IT is expected to grow by 22% in the next five years, with an average wage of $28.85 per hour. Information technology falls within the high growth area of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers.
Information technology (IT) is the application of computers and telecommunications equipment to store, retrieve, transmit and manipulate data, often in the context of a business or other enterprise. As corporations of all kinds begin to rely exclusively on technological systems, this field is expanding exponentially with new jobs across the market. Information Technology encompasses myriad fields and careers that focus on various aspects of information and data management.
Before you can decide if a career in IT is right for you, it is important to understand the industry and career opportunities available. Below are descriptions of the four main domains within IT.
STEM skills are in high demand in Maryland
Washington-Baltimore corridor STEM jobs profile
Job growth projections
- 22% IT job growth by 2020
- $28.85/hour Average wage in IT
- Information Support and Services
- Network Systems
- Programming and Software Development
- Web and Digital Communication
Information Support and Services
Information and support services careers can involve IT deployment, implementing computer systems and software, database management, technical assistance, and managing information systems. Within IT support and services field there are positions for a wide variety of skill sets, some are technical, while others require more customer service skills.
A service desk technician, an entry-level position, requires a great phone rapport, knowledge to categorize and log the customer’s call appropriately, or simply the basic technical assistance such as helping with a password reset. A career in computer support and services may also assist with computer setup, installation, upgrades and maintenance of software and hardware.
Many entry-level positions can be an excellent stepping-stone to advance and be a valuable member of an IT support team. IT support personnel solve more challenging IT problems within an organization as they become more experienced.
IT support personnel typically move into senior positions including data center operations, desktop support, networking and telecommunications
Educational requirements for positions within this field of IT range from a one to three year training program to an advanced graduate degree.
Desired traits for IT support and services employees are, inquisitiveness and a connection with customers to help them resolve problems.
A network system is the software used in operating systems that connects multiple computers in a network. Careers in network systems involve design, installation, maintenance and management of network systems.
A network systems administrator ensures that a local area network is working properly and all users have access to the network. Administrators install, configure, support, and upgrade, and maintain an organizations network. Network administrators also plan for backup contingencies, diagnose and solve hardware, software, and network problems. They may also help to coordinate network and data communications systems and network security operations. IT professionals in network systems have found careers at manufacturing companies, universities, healthcare providers, and IT service firms.
Entry-level positions such as network support technicians, and network systems assistants, may require a bachelor’s degree in computer science or an associate’s degree with relevant work experience may be acceptable.
Educational requirements for positions in this field range from a one to three year training program to a bachelor’s degree.
Network administrators are skilled problem solvers, able to multi-task, have strong communication and analytical skills.
Programming and Software Development
Programming and software developers are involved in the design, development, implementation, and maintenance of computer systems, and software. Knowledge in computer operating systems, programming languages (coding), and software development are required for this career field. People in this field, work with cutting-edge technologies to develop tomorrow’s products for businesses and consumers. Computer programmers write step-by-step instructions that direct computers to process information. This involves understanding exactly what the program needs to do then breaking down into its simplest elements and translating to the appropriate computer language. Different tasks require a different language, but those most often used are: Visual Basic (.Net), Java (J2EE), XML, and C++.
Within programming there are applications and systems programming. Applications programmers write programs to process and manage incoming information. Systems programmers deal with internal computer operations, such as designing diagnostic programs to identify faults, or controlling the way a computer runs several applications simultaneously.
Many job opportunities are in software companies, working for the public and private sector. Computer science graduates with a bachelor’s degree can obtain entry-level computer programmer positions, or free-lance work is also common.
Opportunities for promotion in this field are good; a background in programming is valued for most IT careers as it provides a solid backbone of knowledge. Developers can become project managers if they have strong teamwork and communication skills.
Educational requirements vary from a one to three year training program to an advanced graduate degree.
Employers are looking for individuals with strong problem-solving skills, apt at mathematics, with exceptional IT and coding skills in multiple computer languages. Additionally, having excellent organizational, time, and project management skills with a great attention to detail.
Web and Digital Communication
Careers in web and digital communication involve creating, designing, and producing interactive multimedia products and services including development of digitally generated or computer-enhanced media used in business, training, entertainment, communications, and marketing. Organizations of all types use digital media to communicate with existing and potential customers, track transactions, and collaborate with colleagues.
Positions within the area of web and digital communication vary greatly depending on interest including web and graphic design, computer animation, video production, writing for online media and more. Film and video editors can work for TV stations, film studios, advertising agencies, or be a self-employed freelancer.
Competition for these creative positions can be intense, but new jobs emerge with new technology in entertainment and communication field.
Generally positions in web and digital communications require one to three year training programs or a bachelor’s degree. An excellent portfolio may hold more weight than a degree.
A higher than average degree of creativity paired with strong knowledge of a variety of software programs are important. A deep understanding of using photo and video editing, and digital design software such as: Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Dreamweaver, and SharePoint. Fluency in social media including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Flickr can also be an asset.