Can you imagine going through an entire day without using a computer? If you want to work in Information Technology, the answer is no.
In simple terms, Information Technology refers to the use of computers and software to manage information but the IT industry is much more complex than that. For example, the person you call on to help install or upgrade your Windows Operating System and network your computer to the printer across the hall requires a completely different set of skills than the person who creates and manages your company’s webpage.
Regardless of the position, IT professionals focus on improving the usability and efficiency of technological systems and processes while ensuring their organization’s computers and networks are free of bugs, glitches, and interruptions that would negatively affect business.
Skills, Degrees and Certifications NeededThe type of skill required to be successful in the IT industry will vary based upon the position, however some common skills that all IT Professionals should possess include communication, team work, and problem solving/trouble shooting.
- Technical (i.e. programming, debugging, database design)
- Ability to function in a fast paced environment
- Time management
- Commitment to continuing education
Because of the IT industry's focus on continuing education, many positions may require a Master's Degree for career advancement. A great way to learn about whether or not graduate school is the right step for you and which programs you should consider is by conducting informational interviews with professionals who are in your field of interests. Should you decide that graduate school is your next step, you can use Peterson's advanced search feature to identify degree programs that align with your career interests.
The type of certification required to advance professionally in your career will vary based upon your level of experience and the position you desire. Below are a few certifications for entry level positions in the IT industry.
To identify certifications that align with your career interests, you can use this certification locater
What Employers Are Involved in This Industry?
There a wide variety of federal, private, educational and non-profit IT employers.
Below is a list of employers that have hired Mason students in the past.
- Freddie Mac
- Booze Allen Hamilton
- Computer Sciences Corporation
- Department of State
- SRA International
- Lockheed Martin
- The MITRE Corporation
- Electronic Arts
- U.S. Army
- Metro Star Systems
- Micron Technology
- Northrop Grumman
How are IT Departments Structured?
There is not a standard structure for an IT department because of the wide range of industries and organizations where an IT department is housed.
In general, most people in the IT field will work directly for a company within an economic sector (i.e. education, health care, finance, etc.) or they will work for a Computer and Data Services companies that outsources IT services to organizations that don’t have in house IT staff.
At the top of an IT organizational chart, you are likely to see a CIO (Chief Information Officer) or CTO (Chief Technology Officer) followed by senior and middle managers (Architectural Engineer, Senior Programmer, Senior Engineer, Lead Programmer, Project Managers and finally entry level staff (Junior Software Engineer, Application Programmer, Tester, Technical Support Analyst.)
- TechAmerica: Technology trade association.
- eLearning Guild- Community of practice for designers, developers, and managers of eLearning
- Association for Educational Communications and Technology-Organization that links professionals with an interest in the application of educational technology to the learning process.
- Association of Information Technology Professionals: Society of professionals in information technology
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Computer Society professional association dedicated to advancing the theory and application of computing and information technology.
- Association for Computing Machinery-Organization for computing professionals, delivering resources that advance computing as a science and a profession
- Information Systems Security Association – NOVA Chapter-Organization of information security professionals and practitioners
- The Volgenau School of Engineering Alumni Group
- Information Technology: Networking, Forum and Jobs
- IT Specialist Group