An IT job sounds like a simple answer to a complex question. But in reality, the complexities are so great that many times it’s difficult to know which classification of IT work best fits one’s needs. Many professionals, when asked what exactly is an IT job, have no idea. One common response, heard among those who don’t understand technology or aren’t sure about the difference between IT jobs and other careers, is “I work with information technology.”
This answer is simple and helpful but misleading. Information technology is a broad field, encompassing software engineering, networking, computer systems, information management, computer applications, computer theory, documentation, and much more. This broad area of expertise can be applied in a variety of ways, from using information technology to design computer hardware to programming different types of software to use in network servers. The truth is that many people can perform the basic functions of an IT job, but those who possess the knowledge and skills of several different areas will stand out among the general pool of candidates for an IT job.
One of the more important categories of knowledge that someone working in IT should possess is a thorough knowledge of how information technology works. In fact, most jobs in IT require a good knowledge of how networks work, how databases work, how servers communicate, how monitoring software functions, how protocols are encoded, how security measures work, and how different types of technologies can be used to solve problems. Not only does this knowledge translate into the ability to utilize a broad range of technologies and systems, but it also makes it possible to work in a highly diverse environment. For example, a person working in IT might work in a network server room, a manufacturing plant, a university, or even a government agency.
Another very important IT skill is information technology maintenance. This type of worker understands the importance of keeping certain systems working at all times, as well as fixing minor glitches that might crop up on them. For example, servers may experience a technical glitch that requires the maintenance of the system’s software or a user may accidentally remove files that should not have been deleted. A computer technician helps maintain these systems by fixing hardware issues and also assisting users in altering system settings if needed. It is very important for these technicians to use the proper computer programs and software, and they must be skilled with all of the various components that make up an IT network.
Network servers are used to store data, and they can be networks of computers, but they can also be just one computer in a specific location. They usually connect to a central computer via a network cable, and they work closely with computer servers to control access to the files stored on them. Some companies use network servers to store information about their employees, which can be used for payroll purposes, training, background checks, and much more. Network servers can also be used to provide Internet access, which many businesses use today.
Computer networking is one of the key components of an IT job, because it is the means through which computers communicate with one another and with other devices. It used to be that networking was handled by personal computer users, but today it is done behind the scenes in networks that are set up by technology companies. This means that the technicians who help maintain networks do work for an employer, rather than a regular employee. Many times, companies also use computer networking in order to establish internal networks or to allow external users access to the company’s internal network. A good technician can accomplish all of these tasks, which makes it important for employers to choose qualified technicians who know how to set up networks effectively.
Another type of IT job is virtualization. Virtualization is when a computer is split up into multiple different processes and is no longer solely utilized for one single purpose. For example, some information technology departments at companies use virtual machines to allow their employees to work off site from home. However, not every business uses this process. Some simply create their own virtual environments using a program such as Hyper-v or Parallels.
While the field of information technology is a vast one, there are a number of jobs within this field that students interested in IT jobs should be aware of. The jobs range from support positions to technical support positions to management of networks. However, it is easy for a student to get an education in one of the many fields available to someone who is interested in becoming an information technology or computer technician. All he or she needs to do is find an accredited school and begin to look for classes.
Image by Bethany Drouin from Pixabay