What sort of jobs are available in computing?

  Stuart Leyland 15:01 08 Sep 2004

Time for me to pin down a future job but I'm still not sure what options I have. I'm starting Sixth Form college tomorrow and I'm studying: maths, physics, computing and German with a view of going into the computing field. However, the problem is that I don't know what specific jobs there are.

I've thought about Systems Analyist but I'm not sure what skills would be needed for that. Would I be expected to identify the problem and solve it or would the solving be for someone else?

I've also considered IT consulting but I'm not really clear what this would involve. Would it be similar to systems analyist in that I would have to identify a problem and help people solve it?

I also read the title of "IT Manager" but I have no idea what this means or involves. At a guess I would say that it would mean being in charge of an IT department but couldn't be sure.

I guess what I'm asking for is some help, hopefully from people who work in the IT industry and could describe what sorts of jobs are available and what they do. Also, is there likely to be a need for these jobs in 5 years time (after I've finished college and university). Also, what qualifications or skills would be required for me to do this job?

A bit of background info if it helps. I've been meddling with computer since I was about 9. I've helped quite a few people solve problems including people over the internet in forums such as this. I've also built computers. I've created a fair few websites (not all of the most fantastic quality though!) and have coded in PHP and used MySQL (although I'm not much more than a novice at this). I've dabbled with Access for a school project.

I would be very thankful for anyone who can offer me some advice.

Kind regards.

  cga 15:58 08 Sep 2004

First let me say that I am glad I am not in your position. I retire in a few years and, althouth IT has been good to me, I cant wait. You did not want to hear that.

OK down to your questions:-

First leave out IT Consultant (advising others) or IT Manager (Managing others) for the moment as both need experience and will come in time if your inclinations go that way.

Systems Analyst is, in my view, not really an IT job. Sure, you need to specify what the IT systems will do but it is more about business solutions.

There are opportunities in all sorts of field and with smaller companies but, for the best chance, you need to be able to offer what large companies are looking for.

There are a number of different fields, UNIX and LINUX systems administration are quite hot at the moment. Technical support on windows systems and networks will be a strong requirement as well.

What type of work do you want? Support means dealing with people and can be satisfying but has its down side. Development and programming is more for the person who likes desk work but fits into a team.

The 5 year issue is more difficult. Almost any specific skill you learn now will have moved on in 5 years so it is better to learn general principals and decide a type of area to go into.

The only difficulty I see is this: 20 years ago IT was the province of the specialist. Today many are computer literate but many need help. In the future I see many branches of IT being just normal office tools with a reduced need for specialists.

I know my ramblings are not much help but I hope it has given you something

  Forum Editor 16:05 08 Sep 2004

for quite a while I would say that you're ideally suited to a job in IT Stuart - from what I can gather I think you have the right temperament.

The important thing with IT is not to get too hung up on one particular aspect of it - at least not in the beginning. If at all possible try to get some 'hands-on' experience in a working environment if you can - perhaps on a part-time or even an unpaid basis, and preferably somewhere that you can pick up some networking experience. Becoming a consultant is something that tends to happen when you have a good few years experience under your belt, and have something to offer by way of specialist knowledge. Consultancy work (as I know only too well) isn't easy - you're judged on your track record, and you need to rely on an extensive network of contacts, which can take years to develop.

Learn all you can about servers, networking, and network security matters Stuart - you'll almost certainly need to have those skills wherever you end up.

  Stuart Leyland 16:17 08 Sep 2004


Thanks very much for your input. I've never really used Linux or Unix so unless I start learning within the next 5 years, I think that's one area of work I won't be going into straight away! I've considered programming but I seem to have lost any motivation to start playing with PHP again. Hopefully this wouldn't happen in a job. Maybe it was just the language that didn't suit me or the way in which it was used. I will get more experience at programming over the next 2 years as that is more or less what our computing course covers at college. Your third to last and second to last paragraphs are quite interesting. I was told practically the same thing when I was choosing my courses at college. One of the teachers there never took a course dealing with computers but did maths and physics instead. Now, 20 or so years later, he's a computing teacher! He also mentioned about learning concepts rather than specifics.


Praise indeed! Thank you! Thanks for clearing up the IT consultant job issue. Maybe it's something I should aim for in the long term but should first start small and work my way up.

You mention getting experience in networking. Why networking specifically? Is it a major area nowadays, especially with national companies wanting to network their PCs together? How is the best way to do this? Try and join a local company or a bigger one?

Thanks for the replies so far, it's definitely been more useful than what I was offered by my careers advisor last year!

  recap 16:35 08 Sep 2004

Networking is big business Stuart.

Your College may have courses on basic networking, from there you can go on to University.

While at college/University you could volunteer your time at a company/organisation to learn networking gaining valuble hands on experience.

Some links relating to networking:

click here

click here

click here

click here

  Stuart Leyland 16:39 08 Sep 2004


Thanks for the information. Unfortunately, our college doesn't offer a course on networking. Maybe we'll cover it in computing but I doubt it. I am considering getting a job (once I find out how much homework I'm going to be getting) so I'll look into gaining networking experience from it. The only experience I've had with networking (beside our simple one at home) is at my old Primary School when I helped out for a week. I ended up recreating about 20 accounts so that we could set up different coloured backgrounds depending upon who was logged in!

  GANDALF <|:-)> 16:49 08 Sep 2004

A lot of jobs in IT are 'going abroad' so you need to be abreast of the current economic climate and there is a lot of developement into intelligent/self-healing computers. It is worth making yourself aware of future developements.


  spuds 18:01 08 Sep 2004

Out of curiousity, I put in a simple Google search. Came up with this wwwclick-4-offers.co.uk/c/OF/it_jobs Thousands of various job opportunties in IT and computing.

  spuds 18:03 08 Sep 2004

Sorry link error, try click here

  pcwhizz 22:10 08 Sep 2004

im tryin to work out my future just like stuart!

IT is deffentely a job im going to go into. I cud use a PC properly at age of five and i was formating and restoring computers at 8 years of age.

I get alot of people telling me the IT areas are satureted and its hard to come across a well paid job in IT.

I am excellent at Web Design, Windows Networkin, Basic Linux, Good amount knowledge of UNIX!

I seem to self learn myself quite quickly by playing around with different software and computer language!

But suppose IT is everywhere u go these days wotever job u do!

  VoG II 23:01 08 Sep 2004

From what I have seen of your postings here and elsewhere, you would be absolutely fine working in IT. However, as I undersrtand it, this is a fiercely competitive market and you might find it difficult to break in and make your mark.

You might want to consider a second (backup) position in which you do another job but become closely involved with computers. For example if you are interested in particle physics then CERN looks good :o)

I am a chemist but I spend most of my "regular" day at the office in front of a monitor. Not doing IT as such but using software to specify, help to implement and monitor, and summarise and analyse the results of research projects. Also to develop and use computer models where experiments are either impossible or "too difficult to do".

Incidentally, my dear daughter (who I know you have messaged with) has chosen psychology, sociology, business studies and English for her A-levels. A chip off the old block - .not.!

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