Contributor, Benzinga
September 1, 2020

Do your friends always ask you for computer help? If so, an IT job may be perfect for you. IT jobs are among the fastest-growing jobs in the United States, with an expected employment growth rate of 28% by the year 2026. We’ve compiled a short guide to help you in your IT jobs search, with information on the type of IT jobs available, how much they pay and where to find one. 

Main Takeaways: Getting a Job in IT

  • There are many job titles that fall under IT. A better understanding of the extensiveness of this field will help you narrow down where in IT you want to work.
  • Freelance and network to get exposure. If you don't have relevant work experience and want to move into IT, showcasing your skills is a great way to get noticed.
  • Get an internship and make a portfolio. As you get more work experience, begin to culminate your work into a portfolio to show employers.
  • A specific skill set is needed for a job in IT. This includes mathematical thinking, project management, communication, and more.

What is IT?

Information Technology (IT) refers to anything related to computer technology, such as the internet, computer hardware or software and networking. People who work with these technologies can work independently or as part of a corporate IT team. The first programmable computer was introduced in 1936 but it wasn’t until 1974 that Apple and IBM came out with the first personal computers and IT jobs came to the forefront. 

The World Wide Web was introduced in 1991, starting a revolution and securing IT as one of the most desirable careers of our time. More than 3.2 billion people use the internet, up from 738 million in 2000, resulting in huge demand for IT services. 

What’s the Difference Between IT and Computer Science?

IT pertains to solving and simplifying business processes using computer programs and applications. IT workers typically assist and support employees and organizations via phone or email and help them solve technological problems. 

Computer science is the process of creating usable computer programs and applications. Computer science workers usually work independently to write code and apply complex algorithms.

What are People with IT Jobs Responsible For?

A successful IT department is integral to a company’s success as it relates to IT infrastructure, including computers, printers and other related machinery and programs. Since most business tasks are performed online (through email, creating documents and websites) it’s imperative that IT systems are maintained and monitored. Here are a few typical tasks performed by people with IT jobs:

  • Monitor and maintain hardware and software and making sure the network is up and running. 
  • Applying operating system updates and troubleshooting.
  • Managing IT initiatives, which may include the rollout of new software programs, new product launches and website reconfigurations.
  • Software design and development, testing, installing and support.
  • Supporting and assisting end-users (including employees and customers) with technical issues.
  • May oversee an IT team or other supporting teams.

Do I Need a Computer Science Degree to Work in this Field?

It’s possible to get an IT job without a degree, but most employers expect IT workers to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, management information systems, business intelligence, computer information systems or a similar field.

If you have an MBA in a major such as information technology, you’ll be much more marketable. In addition to a bachelor’s degree, it’s also a good idea to earn certifications.

  • Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA): This basic certification enabling users to install, operate and configure enterprise-level routers and switches.
  • Network+: This globally recognized certification verifies the ability to design, manage and troubleshoot wired and wireless networks.
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP): This credential verifies the ability to protect organizations from cyber attacks. 
  • Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE): This certification verifies user authorization to maintain specific technologies such as SharePoint and desktop infrastructure. Certifications must be achieved in each individual category.
  • CompTIA A+ Technician: This certification enables technicians to maintain PCs, printers, mobile devices, laptops and smartphones. 

The more education and certifications you have, the more likely you’ll get an IT job with higher pay. Of course, if you specialize in an area such as computer networking, you’ll be even more marketable to prospective employers. 

Types of IT Jobs and Titles

Let’s take a look at some sample IT fields and titles that can fall under the larger IT umbrella.

Entry-level IT jobs. Entry-level IT jobs, called business analysts, computer support specialists or entry-level business analysts, require a college degree in computer science or a related field and require little or no experience. Common jobs performed in this category include help desk support, business analysis and technical support.

Software engineer. A software engineer, which could also be called a QA software engineer or software design engineer, is responsible for the daily maintenance of computer systems and servers. Typical tasks include installing, configuring and maintaining multiple servers as well as managing upgrades and resolving outages.

Computer technician. A computer technician, also called a computer repair technician or computer network technician, works with hardware and software and troubleshoot problems for customers. Computer technicians can work independently and run their own computer repair businesses. Duties might include installing software programs, configuring operating systems and assembling entire computers.

Management information systems. Management information systems jobs involve organizing computer resources and systems efficiently. Information systems managers (also called computer systems analysts or database administrators) manage an IT team tasked with creating, maintaining and managing computer systems. 

Security director. A security director is a senior-level executive that can also be titled IT security director, security site director or security and privacy director. A security director oversees all IT security measures across an organization. He or she manages an IT security team focused on computer systems security, handles security threats and enforces user compliance, among other job functions.

Enterprise architect. An enterprise architect collects and analyzes data generated by a company. Common job titles include systems architect or network architect, and typically, each enterprise architect analyzes the number of emails a company sends annually and evaluates trends and decides how the organization can use them.

Salary Ranges and Expectations for IT Jobs and Projected Growth Rate

Since there are so many different types of IT jobs the salary range varies significantly.

Median Annual Salary
Projected Growth Rate by 2026
Computer Support Specialist$53,47011% (faster than average)
Computer Systems Analyst$88,7409% (average)
Database Administrator$90,07011% (faster than average)
Information Security Analyst$98,35028% (much faster than average)
Software Developer$105,59024% (much faster than average)
Computer Network Architect$109,0206% (average)

Of course, salary also depends on your credentials and experience. Health care and cybersecurity are among the most in demand. There’s currently a global shortage of 2 million cybersecurity professionals, according to ISACA, a non-profit information security advocacy group. 

Since nearly 30% of all breached organizations lose revenue, businesses have a huge need for security analysts and cybersecurity specialists. 

How to Get a Job in IT

Assuming you have the right education and certifications, how do you find a job in the IT industry? Here are some tips to help you jumpstart your job search:

  • Network. Connect with like-minded job seekers as well as employers who are seeking IT workers. Also, attend local business networking events and join professional organizations such as the Association of Information Technology Professionals and the Association for Computing Machinery.  
  • Register with a staffing agency. There are staffing firms that specialize in IT jobs such as Aerotek and Robert Half International. These agencies will help you tweak your resume and place you in a job that pays well and matches your experience.
  • Freelance. While you’re looking for a full-time gig, consider freelancing. Search for “remote” or “freelance” IT jobs in popular job search engine and you’ll find thousands of available jobs, many of which you can do working remotely. Freelance IT consultants can make $50 or more an hour, so this is an option worth considering.
  • Spread the word. Let your friends, family members, professors, fellow students and colleagues know you’re in the market for an IT job. Try to get a referral from friends already in the industry. 
  • Get an internship. Are you in college or a new graduate? Search for IT internships at reputable companies. Often, you can earn a paycheck and add valuable experience to your resume.
  • Tweak your resume. Have your resume evaluated by a professional resume writer. Highlight any IT-related coursework and projects you’re proud of or highlight your best IT projects and results. Bring your education and certifications to the forefront.
  • Keep learning. Make sure your professional certifications are current and keep up-to-date with the latest industry knowledge and terminology. Even if you’ve got a college degree, it can’t hurt to keep acquiring specialty certifications or take online courses in other areas. 
  • Create a portfolio. Portfolios aren’t just for creatives anymore. If you’ve developed apps or built your own computer, document everything and include photos. Show the results you achieved with the end products. There are inexpensive online portfolio services that will get you started.
  • Check live listings and apply. Post your resume on legitimate job search engines and apply for jobs you’re targeting by entering specific keywords. Make a wishlist of companies you’d love to work for and check out job openings on their career pages.

Stay positive, patient and persistent and be sure to follow up with a thank-you note after each interview. 

Top 5 Skills to Be Successful in Information Technology

A degree in computer science isn’t enough to be successful in an IT job. Here are our top 5 skills you’ll need to stand out among your competitors:

1. Mathematics

You need to have exceptional math skills to work in the IT industry. On any given day at an IT job, you may need to interpret and analyze statistical data output.

2. Project Management

Many IT tasks are project-driven, so possessing good project management skills are important. Sample IT projects include new software rollouts and computer system upgrades.

3. Communication

IT professionals are required to effectively communicate with clients, leaders, colleagues, suppliers and other business stakeholders. Since many IT projects and issues are complex, you must be able to communicate information in layman’s terms. 

4. Troubleshooting

You will be under a lot of pressure to fix the problem quickly when computer programs freeze or a network is down so business functions can get back to normal. You’ll need to quickly assess, diagnose and resolve technical problems with an efficient troubleshooting process.

5. Analytical

You’ll also need exceptional analytical skills. Every single task you’re given will require you to analyze and resolve complex problems. You may be asked to analyze and interpret large amounts of data and then present it to your company so it can make an informed decision. 

Go for IT

Computers are everywhere and all businesses depend on smooth, efficient operations. There will always be a big demand for IT professionals, so if IT is your thing, now is the time to look for a job. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there will be 557,100 new IT jobs available by 2026. A job in the IT industry provides job security as well as an attractive salary. It’s safe to say you can create a solid plan for retirement if you choose an IT job, so go for it.  

Want to learn more about IT? Check out Benzinga's guides to the best computer networking courses, the best data analytics courses and the best computer science books. Or, check out our live listings for mechanical engineering jobs.