Introduction to Information Technology: Basics and Careers

introductiontoinformationtechnologyInformation Technology covers a broad spectrum of hardware and software solutions that enable organizations to gather, organize, and analyze data that helps them achieve their goals. It also details technology-based workflow processes that expand the capacity of an organization to deliver services that generate revenue. The four main focuses of IT personnel are business computer network and database management, information security, business software development, and computer tech support.

For a guide on tech fundamentals, check out some basics on cables and connectors and the what and how of computer networking here.

As the IT industry evolves to meet the technology demands of today’s workplace, different challenges are arising and IT professionals are striving to meet them. Network security is by far the greatest concern for many companies and they rely on their IT staff to prevent or stop these system breaches. Read more about the basics of computer security here. Data overload is becoming an increasingly important issue since many businesses are processing large amounts of data on a daily basis, with many of them not have the processing power to do so. Last, but not least, two of the most essential skills needed from IT professionals are teamwork and communication skills. Systems are complex and people are needed to help translate that task. Therefore, IT professionals are the ones responsible for helping others get their work done efficiently without the complex jargon of the technology world.

Let’s talk about careers for a moment.  Employment for information technology and related services are projected to grow rapidly over the next decade, outpacing similar professional, scientific, and technical industries, as well as the economy as a whole. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “output in computer systems design and related services is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 6.1 percent [between 2010 and 2020], compared with 3.6 percent for the broad industry category—professional, scientific, and technical services—and 2.9 percent for all industries.” Compared to 2.6 percent for professional, scientific, and technical services and 1.3 percent for all other industries, that’s a huge demand coming up! Why is this happening?

Because the necessity for information technology is king. With the emerging popularity of the Cloud technology, many organizations are taking this up as an alternative to actual hardware using up space. Cloud computing service providers manage IT infrastructure and platforms, and provide businesses with access to remote data storage and software packages.

Another reason for the rise of IT careers is the need to defend our information systems from countless attacks. Just in the past few years alone, the BLS reports “there is a 17-fold increase in the number of cyber-attacks on U.S. infrastructure between 2009 and 2011.”Security companies also have produced reports that show large increases in security breaches on private businesses in those years as well.

With the increasing need for IT professionals, this seems to be one of the more stable careers for the next decade. One of the first steps to becoming an IT professional is to obtain a degree or certification in computer or management information systems. Learn how to ace your IT exams with this guide. Then you must decide which field to go into, as there are many in the IT universe.

Here are some of the most popular positions for people interested in Information Technology:

1. Computer Systems Analyst
In this position, analysts design and develop computer systems and are an expert at every facet of hardware, software, and networks. Analysts also evaluate the systems and research the industry for better products to enhance their existing system.

2. Cloud Specialist
Cloud specialists organize and give configuration to the information infrastructure in the sky. Because this is still an emerging technology, these architects are highly sought after and one of the top-paying professions in the industry.

3. Computer Forensic Investigator
These investigators are computer crime detectives that search for, identify, and evaluate information from computer systems.

4. Health IT Specialist
Health IT is booming, especially with Affordable Care Act coming on and transition from paper to electronic health records. Health IT specialists will mix computer knowledge will record-keeping skills, medical coding, and billing.

5. Database Administrator
Database administrators create, upgrade, and test for databases.

6. Web Developer
Web developers are in high demand because they have a great understanding of what makes a good operating system. They create web pages, web applications and web content with their knowledge of what the average surfer finds visually stimulating and how to optimize sites for mobile tech, among numerous other skills.

7. IT Manager
These managers are the contact pros when your email won’t send or Microsoft Word doesn’t open. As the head of the IT department, they ensure that a company’s network is operating smoothly and that dangerous threats like malware are minimized.

8. Information Technology Vendor Manager
Slightly more hands-off compared to some tech positions, vendor managers oversee supply when it comes to software and hardware. This can mean anything from Microsoft’s latest word processor to health IT programs for hospitals.

9. Computer Systems Administrator
The expertise of network and computer systems administrators is essential to every office. Aside from maintaining a healthy computer network, they also lend their tech knowledge to managing telecommunication networks. This profession is expected to add 96,600 new positions by 2020!

10. Mobile Application Developer
Because of our highly-mobile lifestyle, mobile application developers are and will be in high demand for years to come, especially as mobile devices and technology becomes increasingly sophisticated.