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Technology's Appeal Makes IT Industry Hotter Than Ever
Technology has maintained its allure as being the hot career path to follow, and with good reason.
Companies in this sector house a wide variety of services and range from the giants or blue chip corporations down to private consultancies that only employ two or three people. Fundamentally, all IT jobs will involve producing an end solution for a client, whatever the size or nature of the organization.
The IT industry is still a young one and has a varied and interesting structure. It interacts with almost every other industry, so your IT qualifications can lead almost anywhere. This give you plenty of choice at every stage of your career but does mean that the first move can be a difficult decision because of the sheer range of roles available. This same variety means that your first move does not have to be a binding decision. It's always possible to change to a different job if your first choice proves a disappointment.
Now is a good time to make the move into IT. The nature of the jobs are changing, with new roles emerging for professionals with the skills to harness e-commerce and web services to meet new business and user needs, from international customer service to on-line healthcare. The need to deliver better, faster results in the face of growing user expectations and resource constraints is giving IT professionals an increasingly important say in the future direction of business and government services.
The demand for those with the skills and experience to deliver successful projects far exceeds the current supply, leaving plenty of opportunities for the right graduates. IT staff with computer and communications systems engineering and project management skills will be among the most sought after as will those with a business or professional background or design, presentation and language skills.
There are two initial choices for graduates starting careers in IT. You can choose between working for IT suppliers or service companies, or for the IT department of a major company or government body. The other option is to start within the IT, e-business or e-commerce department of a user. This could encompass anything from a bank, chemical company, local authority, charity or hospital to an electronic publisher of music, news, information or games. Here, an understanding of the business is just as important as an understanding of the technology.
Opportunities for IT professionals are in pretty much every area of employment, with the largest being in the financial services, manufacturing and public sectors. Many of the larger blue chip firms have well-established graduate training schemes as well as internships for undergraduates and these places are highly coveted. Most of the larger companies train graduate entrants and often look for the potential to learn new skills quickly rather than expertise in a single area. The reverse can be true for smaller or medium sized organizations. Although many will have opportunities in IT, these types of companies tend to look for strong knowledge and skills in one area in particular.
The IT industry changes quickly and looking ahead is difficult. Some jobs and skills will always be safe, others will be a passing fashion and the difficulty is knowing which is which. It's probably safe to say that the web is here to stay but it is such a broad topic that it's impossible to say which of the competing technologies will still be here in ten year's time.
Industries are easier to predict. The decline in manufacturing means less demand for production control software but all industries - manufacturing, services, and entertainment - are still doing their accounts, so companies producing financial software suffer less than most. Government will also carry on through good times and bad so public service is another safe bet.
Once you've settled in a role you can begin to consider your long term-plans. In most companies this will mean a move into management; very few organizations have parallel career structures that allow technical staff to reach senior positions within their own specialty.
A high number of IT professionals work as freelance contractors often working on a project basis for employers. Being a contractor allows you to pick assignments. Salaries tend to be higher, and there is the opportunity to work on a wider range of projects, but there is less job security and you won't have the benefits of paid holiday and company pensions.
Information technology is an integral part of almost every business today. The IT industry is ever changing and is very susceptible to changes in the economy, something which has been evident over the past few decades, and borne out of the fluctuating IT job market. Despite the recent downturn there is still a demand for good graduates and not just those with technical degrees. Employment forecasters predict that there is little doubt that the industry will recover as organizations adapt to change.
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