The title “IT professional” can mean many different things to different people. In this article, I will describe exactly what an IT professional is, what they do, and how you can become one.
What is an IT professional? An IT professional is someone who builds, develops, tests, installs, maintains, and repairs the software and hardware of complex computer systems.
Large companies typically hire one or more IT professionals to maintain their computer networks. For instance, maintaining the network servers of a company is assigned to these IT professionals.
Read on and learn more about what IT professionals do, what it takes to be one of them, and how much they are being paid.
What Is an IT Professional?
The backbone of most successful businesses today is their network servers. One of the jobs of IT professionals is maintaining these servers, which is more than a full-time job.
An IT professional has some training and qualification in information technology. This makes them qualified to work in the company’s IT department.
Before a person is allowed to do IT-related work, he or she must have the minimum credentials. These requirements could be in the form of classroom education, a diploma, and on-the-job training. An IT professional must also have advanced or graduate studies and stacked up years of work experience.
What Does an IT Professional Do?
Generally, there are two types of IT work or disciplines – one is programming and software development, and the other is network systems administration and IT support.
All the different tasks performed by IT personnel will fall under one of these two broader fields. Let us discuss the first discipline below.
1. What Is the Work of a Program or Software Developer?
A software or program developer’s job is to plan, develop, manage, and implement a computer program or software across many computer systems. This job requires knowledge and experience in writing computer codes and supporting websites, applications, and different digital platforms.
The primary task of software and program developers is to build software from scratch. That means you have to be creative to do the job, so a knack for design will be a plus. You also need to have an eye for detail because your basic building blocks are letters and numbers. Just one wrong letter or number in your coding will cause a whole strain of code to go haywire.
2. What Does a Network Systems Administrator and IT Support Do?
When someone complains about a problem in his computer or has a problem staying connected to Wi-Fi, it is the systems administrator who is required to fix the problem. He is the first point of contact between a distressed customer and the company.
In other words, the network systems administrator is a problem solver. To be one, he needs to be a critical thinker. These NSAs play a vital role in a company because they are the ones who keep computer networks updated and running smoothly.
The services they provide for their organizations are endless. Besides giving user and tech support, they also perform installation and upgrades, design, troubleshooting, and configuring the company’s network devices and operating systems.
To stay ahead of their competitors, companies have to upgrade their hardware and software consistently. This situation gives rise to the high demand for network systems administrators and IT support professionals.
Career training is also crucial in both IT fields. Whether you are thinking of starting a career as a software developer or a network systems administrator, you need to have a background and solid footing in that particular field. Such training will give you the tools you need to excel in whatever field you choose.
How Much Does an IT Professional Make?
According to Glassdoor, in today’s employment market in the United States, the average pay per annum of an IT professional or IT specialist is approximately $84,418. The highest an IT professional can earn is around $125,000 per annum, and the lowest is about $43,000.
These figures are taken from a United States Glassdoor survey. The estimated salaries were based on 442 salaries submitted anonymously to Glassdoor by employees in the IT industry.
What Are the Skills Required to Be an IT Professional?
You definitely need certain skills to become successful as an IT professional. If you have the skills, your chances of succeeding in this profession are very high. So, what are the skills you need to have or develop?
1. You Must Develop Analytical Thinking
As an IT professional, you will be required to come up with the best solutions to problems. Therefore, you need to acquire relevant information about the issue and analyze it to come up with the best course of action.
You have to gather all the information, analyze it within a matter of minutes, and then come up with a solution. IT professionals and IT specialists can do this because they are trained in evaluating the problems in every area of concern.
It gives them the ability to know the exact problems that need to be fixed. And it will be to your advantage if you are good at math. Developing this skill will enable you to understand the complex nature of telecommunications systems. If you are good at statistics, calculus, and geometry, you have a higher chance of making it.
2. You Must Develop the Ability to Diagnose (Computer/Software) Problems
An IT professional will be required to examine several scenarios to understand the real nature of the problem. There is a wide range of issues that a network system can encounter at any time.
Your knowledge and experience in information technology will be put to the test as you will be required to provide a solution at the earliest possible time. It is the reason why you need to know the most common operating systems and be always updated with their recent upgrades.
You have to do this because technology is advancing without any letup. Ongoing study and research are also needed if you want to be effective as an IT professional.
3. You Must Develop Good Communication Skills
In any kind of job, excellent interpersonal skills and effective communication are always a must. Even if you are the savviest of all the techies in a company, you won’t get much higher without good communication skills.
There are two important reasons why you need to communicate with other IT personnel smoothly and effectively. The number one reason is that it can help you extract the information you need to better evaluate a problem. The second reason is that good communication skills will help you explain the nature of the problem and the steps that your customer needs to take to solve it.
You should understand that a lot of computer users only have basic knowledge of computer technology. So, it is the IT professional’s job to bring down the tech information in layman‘s terms, so customers or clients can grasp computer concepts.
That’s why good communication skills are very critical, more so because communication is done through online chat or the phone, whether mobile or landline. For communication to be pleasant and positive, it is also important for IT professionals to have a polite demeanor with proper communication etiquette.
4. You Should Be Concerned About the Details
If you are after a timely resolution to a problem, you need to pay attention to the details. If not, you face the risks of costly mistakes and escalation of the problem. As an IT professional or IT specialist, you need to be adept at catching and sorting out all information you need concerning the issue.
You also need to know how to ask the right questions. It is one of the best ways you can guide a customer or a co-worker to explain the problem better. In this regard, you should also develop good listening skills. It is important not to disregard any detail that comes up during the conversation.
These four IT skills form the framework of a competent IT professional. If IT professionals do their job effectively, they will not only resolve the immediate issues but also help computer users be more knowledgeable about their computer systems. Potentially, they can also equip their customers with knowledge of how to fix their computer problems.
How Do You Get to Be an IT Professional?
Like any kind of career, you need to fulfill specific requirements to be considered an IT professional. The required steps to become an IT professional are as follows:
1. You Need to Get a Bachelor’s Degree
The Bureau of Labor Standards says that you need to have a computer-related bachelor’s degree. It is the most common entry-level requirement for someone who wants to work in information technology. College courses such as Software Engineering, Information Systems, and Computer Science are the relevant majors for earning a degree.
You also need to have a solid foundation in engineering, science, and mathematics. Computer science subjects like programming languages, data management, numerical analysis, and data structures are topics that you need to handle.
You should also take advantage of computer laboratory classes. These classes will give you hands-on experience with the software and programs used in the daily work of an IT professional.
2. Gain Actual Experience
After graduation, you can take up a certification exam to boost your qualifications when applying for an IT job. Some companies do not require such certification, but it is better to be certified because this will show future employers that you are really qualified for the job.
After getting certified, start gaining work experience. According to a monster.com survey conducted in 2012, companies prefer IT applicants with at least three years of professional experience.
The BLS also stated that if you want to apply for an IT management position, you’ll need five years of relevant experience the least. Usually, smaller companies are not that strict in this regard. Therefore, they are one of the best places you can start building your professional career.
3. Get a Master’s Degree
If you really want to get a top IT job, you need to get a master’s degree related to your profession. You can do this while working as an IT professional. A bachelor’s degree can only take you so far. But with a master’s degree, you can get to the top management positions of an IT company with higher pay, too.
What Are the Job Opportunities for IT Professionals?
The future of IT professionals or IT specialists looks very bright. An extensive list of IT jobs that require the services of IT professionals always exists. There is no lacking of job opportunities when it comes to information technology.
Here is a sample list of IT job opportunities:
- Database administrator
- Application support professional
- Server administrator
- Network security professional
- Application programmer (custom applications, SAP ABAP developer, Force.com developer, PeopleSoft developer)
- Technology consultant
- Business intelligence professional
- Data scientist
- LAN administrator
The following are specific areas or fields in IT that you can work on:
- Software engineering
- Computer architecture and engineering
- Computer security and cryptography
- Artificial intelligence
- Computer graphics and visualization
- Concurrent, parallel, and distributed systems
- Computer networks
- Computational science
- Computer performance analysis
As technology develops and advances, this list will continually grow. The only limitation is your knowledge and expertise, plus your ability to convince potential employers that you have what it takes.
Conclusion – What Is an IT Professional?
IT professionals use information technology to build, develop, test, install, repair, and maintain hardware and software of complex computer systems. Big conglomerates and small companies all over the world hire the services of IT professionals to maintain their networks of computers. It is a profession that has a very bright future.