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Information Technology Specialist Jobs

Information technology specialists maintain computer-based systems, including networks and databases. Learn about formal training options for this position, and review some typical coursework. Read about career development and salary potential for information technology specialists.

What Careers Are Available As an Information Technology Specialist?

An information technology specialist is the expert of all things computers. This specialist usually works at organizations where he takes charge installing computers and connecting them to the local area network. Their job responsibilities will also include troubleshooting problems and servicing any other information technology needs. These professionals maintain the machines, the hardware, the software and any updates to the applications.

Information technology specialists install, maintain and fix information systems, that include all software and hardware problems. The following chart is an overview about entering this field.

Education Required Associate degree, Bachelor's degree preferred
Education Field of Study Computer science, Information systems, Computer engineering
Key Responsibilities Installing software, running diagnostics, resolving network issues
Certification Optional certification available
Job Growth (2018-2028) 10% (computer support specialists)*
Median Salary (2018) $53,470 (computer support specialists)*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What is an Information Technology Specialist?

As an information technology specialist, you work with computer information systems. Your job is to maintain, troubleshoot, install and repair these systems. Job duties may include testing software, running diagnostic tests, evaluating needs and implementing new information systems to confirm that information systems are operating properly.

Your job also includes ensuring that the system is effective for the organization's needs. This may include duties such as meeting with executives to go over current issues and develop solutions, setting up new systems and training employees. You may attend industry seminars to learn about new developments and ideas in information technology. Your job may also include managing, training and monitoring IT staff.

What Educational Requirements Do I Need?

Employers usually require some formal training in an IT program. These programs may allow you to earn a diploma, certificate, associate's or bachelor's degree. Depending on length of study, IT programs offer courses in computer applications and programming, website development, troubleshooting, system administration and mathematics.

In an IT program you will learn the common design of information systems and the importance of these systems in an organization. You may study common problems and address ways to solve these problems. Classes usually cover how to offer support services, including how to work with people who are not technically savvy with computers.

What Else Can I Do to Improve My Job Chances?

Due to the ever-changing nature of the IT industry, professionals must stay on top of current trends. Continuing education may include attending industry seminars, taking refresher courses or completing employer-sponsored training programs. These programs may cover new products, advancements, innovations and technology in the industry to help keep you up-to-date. Some programs may offer training in how to use new programs or software.

Many IT specialists obtain vendor or industry certifications to prove their expertise. Common certifications include CompTIA A+, Cisco Certified Network Associate and Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator. Most certifications are offered through software vendors and require that you pass a test as proof of your knowledge. Some vendors may also have education or experience requirements you must meet before taking a certification test.

How Much Can I Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2018 the national median annual wage for computer network support specialists was $62,770. The highest-paying field that year was in the natural gas distribution sector, which averaged $94,380 per year, while computer system design was the most frequent employer and averaged an annual salary of $70,800 per year (www.bls.gov). Payscale.com reported that as of November 30, 2019, the earnings for information technology specialist jobs in the 10th-90th percentiles were estimated at $37,000-$99,000.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

For these alternative career positions, you will be required to earn at least a bachelor's degree. Related ITS careers could include employment as a computer programmer. Programmers work for employers coding computer games or digital animation. They may become independent contractors debugging problems and repairing bad code for vendors. Of course another area could be employment as a computer system analyst where your skills will be put to use designing solutions to local technological information problems. Another alternative might be work as a computer network architect. Architects design and build (LANs) local area networks or (WANs) wide area networks. A more interesting career might be in database administration. This job requires you spend your time securing and keeping data for financial institutions or universities safe for their users.