Information Technology Career Cluster Overview
Do the following statements describe you? Your computer is your favorite possession. You like to program for fun. People often come to you when they are stuck with a computer problem and need some help. You keep up-to-date on the latest software and hardware by visiting computer stores and reading computer magazines.
If that sounds like you, a career in information technology (IT) might be the right choice for your future. The information technology cluster contains jobs that deal with the development, installation, and management of computer hardware, software, and multimedia. Hardware refers to the computers and peripherals (such as keyboards, external drives, speakers, and printers) that have become a standard part of just about every home and work environment. Software refers to the programs that enable users to write papers, browse the Internet, download music, play games, and so forth. Multimedia in this instance refers to Web content.
Information technology careers can be found in almost every industry, from construction to medicine. Computers have become an essential part of how the world does business. Information technology professionals ensure that an organization’s technology needs are met, and that help is available when problems occur.
Information Technology Career Pathways
The information technology cluster is composed of the following four career pathways: information support and services, interactive media, network systems, and programming and software development.
Information Support and Services Career Path
People who work in this pathway help organizations select the correct information technology for their needs. They may also install IT systems, write and update documentation about those systems, and help people troubleshoot IT problems. Examples of careers in information support and services include database specialists, technical writers and editors, and technical support specialists.
Interactive Media Career Path
Jobs in this pathway deal with the design and creation of interactive multimedia products and services. Interactive media workers design and create Web sites for business, schools, and other organizations. Many organizations use the Internet and company intranets to share information with employees, communicate with customers, and track orders. Examples of jobs in this cluster include computer and video game designers, graphic designers, multimedia sound workers, and webmasters.
Network Systems Career Path
Computer networks are the lifeblood of most organizations. Networks provide a means for people to share information while working on different computers in the same building or in different locations altogether. Jobs in this pathway deal with the design, installation, and maintenance of computer networks. Typical jobs in this pathway include computer network specialists, computer systems analysts, and telecommunications technicians.
Programming and Software Development Career Path
People who work in programming and software development create the programs and software packages people use for business, education, or just for fun. Working in this pathway, as with most other areas of the information technology cluster, requires a good understanding of various computer operating systems and programming languages, as well as the needs of the audience for whom the software is intended. Although many programmers and developers specialize in one language or operating system, having a good general knowledge of the field can prepare a job candidate for a wide variety of positions. Examples of jobs in this pathway include computer and video game designers, computer programmers, graphics programmers, and software designers.
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Exploring Information Technology Careers
Most people who are attracted to the IT field already have an interest in computers. Learn as much as you can about various computer programming languages and operating systems. This can help you decide which area of this field appeals to you most. For example, if you enjoy writing computer code and working on your own, you might think about becoming a computer programmer. If you are more interested in computer animation and enjoy working with a team, then working in software or video game design might be a better choice for you. The most important thing is to use computers regularly. Take any computer classes your school offers, and keep an eye out for computer camps that local organizations might sponsor in the summer. This could be a great way to learn more and meet others who share your interests. Reading computer and software magazines is another great way to learn more about the field.
Many jobs in the IT cluster require at least a bachelor’s degree. There are also many different kinds of professional certification programs in this field, some of which may be requirements for the kind of job you want. Besides helping you advance in the field and earn more money, earning professional certification is a way to show that you are keeping up-to-date with the latest advances in information technology. Keeping up with the rapid developments in the field is an essential part of being an IT professional.
Information Technology Careers Outlook
The information technology cluster is one of the most promising in terms of available jobs. Employment for many computer professionals, such as software engineers, systems administrators, computer systems analysts, and database administrators, is expected to increase much faster than average through 2016 as technology becomes more sophisticated and organizations continue to adopt and integrate these technologies, making job openings plentiful. Faster-than-average growth is predicted for computer support specialists and network administrators.
The expanding integration of Internet technologies has resulted in a rising demand for professionals who can develop and support Internet, intranet, and World Wide Web applications. Growth in these areas is expected to create strong demand for computer scientists, engineers, and systems analysts who are knowledgeable about networks, data, and communications security.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment of programmers should grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2016. Employment of computer equipment operators is expected to decline, since advances in automation continue to increase, reducing the need for such workers.
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