Career Guide to Becoming an Information Technology Specialist
Learn more about a career as an information technology specialist. Find out what type of education is required, who employs these specialists, and how much you're likely to earn if you pursue this career path.
Career Information at a Glance
Information technology specialists are responsible for overseeing the use of a company or organization's computer network system. They advise individuals on how to properly access relevant information and provide assistance when technical problems arise. In the table below, you'll find the education requirements, projected job growth, and the median income for individuals that work in the field of computer support.
|Education Required||Most positions require an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree|
|Education Field of Study||Computer science, engineering, information sciences|
|Required Skills||Problem-solving skills, communication skills, patience, customer service skills|
|Projected Job Growth (2020-2030)||9% (for all computer support specialists)*|
|Median Income (2020)||$55,510 (for all computer support specialists)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Do Information Technology Specialists Do?
Information technology specialists, commonly referred to as IT specialists, are responsible for maintaining the computer network system that companies use in order to conduct business. They play a significant role in the internal functioning of a company because they are tasked with ensuring that workers have access to the necessary tools and information within their computer system. When problems arise, it is essential that an IT specialist is able to work collaboratively with individuals in order to troubleshoot any technical issues efficiently; this ensures that workers do not face technological setbacks and can maintain productivity. They are also responsible for providing regular maintenance operations to a network's internet systems.
What Type of Degree Should I Earn To Become an Information Technology Specialist?
While there are no standardized post-secondary education requirements for becoming an IT specialist, many employers require that applicants hold a bachelor's degree in a related field. Because IT specialists must have in-depth knowledge of computer systems and how they function, studying computer science, engineering, or information sciences all provide students with necessary applied coursework. Those individuals seeking entry-level positions may find that an associate's degree with relevant computer-based coursework is sufficient in order to gain initial work experience in the field. It is very common for IT specialists to continue their education throughout their careers in order to keep up with the rapid advancements in the field of technology.
What Skills Do I Need For This Career?
Problem-solving skills are at the core of the work done by an IT specialist. When technical issues arise, they must be able to quickly identify the problem and determine the most effective means of finding the necessary solution. This must be done efficiently in order to ensure that business productivity is not lost due to a technical issue. Communication skills prove essential to this career as well; they are tasked with listening to an individual's technical problem and then finding ways to best relay technical information to individuals that do not have the same knowledge of computers. They often times have to ask additional questions to find the root of the issue, so phrasing questions in a way that are easy for others to answer plays a role in their success. Patience proves important as well, as technical issues can be complex and affect a multitude of different systems. Finding the correct solution does not always happen during the first try, maintaining focus and patience allows an IT specialist to consider alternative solutions.
Who Employs Information Technology Specialists?
Because almost all large companies and organizations use computer systems to conduct their business, IT specialists are employed in a variety of different fields. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the largest employer of IT specialists in 2018 were from the telecommunications industry. IT specialist jobs are also commonly found in fields such as computer systems design and related services, finance, data processing, and management. Because these types of companies often function beyond the standard 9-5 hours, it is common for IT specialists to work nights or weekends.
What is the Salary, Job Growth, and Career Prospects for Information Technology Specialists?
As of May 2020, the BLS found that individuals working as computer support specialists earned a median annual income of $55,510. Between 2020 and 2030, the employment of computer support specialists is projected to grow by 9%, which is as fast as the average for all other occupations. As computer usage within companies continues to grow, the amount of technical support that will be required is likely to grow as well. Job prospects for individuals that have earned a bachelor's degree in a relevant field and have obtained technical work experience are expected to have the best outlook for finding positions.