DevWith the job market in its current state, students and parents are looking for professions that will provide stability and growth for kids coming out of school.  When it comes to information technology (IT), there is a lot of confusion related to what jobs exist and what students should be preparing for.  This article is meant to clear up this confusion and give the basics on the jobs that one could expect to hold in the field of IT.
Note that this article will not get into some of the specifics of newer technologies such as big data, cloud or mobile technologies.


The most stereotypical and known IT job, a developer position is where someone will go to create the next new software application or connect one system to another.  This job involved coding, which includes a variety of languages including Java, .NET, and even COBOL (a much older language).  Companies today are trending towards hiring mobile developers and with the speed of change in technology, this role is going to be needed more than ever moving forward.

Even if you do not go into a developer role, it is important for every role listed below that you have a reasonable understanding for how the technology works.  Taking classes in school are often not enough - you should actually go out and build your own website and see what goes into each and every webpage.
If you're not convinced yet, hear it from Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg here, who are advocating that every high school teaching coding going forward.  If you look at the success these two have had, it's pretty hard to argue:


The cousin of the developer role, engineers deal with the hardware systems within IT.  This is a broad spectrum and could include networks, servers, databases, security, etc...  Engineering roles are purposely specialized, and are often perfect for the type of people who like to take things apart and put them back together again.
As technology involves, important concepts like cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS) will be driven from these types of roles, and it will be important to bring the best and brightest into this workforce.

Business Analyst (BA)

The BA role is responsible for writing requirements for how a software application could work.  In order to hold this position, one should have strong writing skills, listening ability, and be able 


to communicate with audiences at every level.  They are the middle-person between the business who uses the system and the developers who are responsible for building how the system will work.

Quality Assurance (QA)

The QA role is more commonly known as testers.  They are responsible for testing a system to make sure that it works according to the requirements.  A person going into this role needs to be meticulous with building a test plan that takes into account all of the possible uses of the system.
Of all of the jobs on this list, this role is the one that is most easily outsourced and would not be one that I would particularly recommend going in to - although it helps to have some experience in the job to know how it works.

Project Manager (PM)

A PM is responsible for making sure that a project stays on schedule, on budget, and is meeting the business expectations for what is being delivered.  A person looking to get into this role needs to be extremely organized and have superior communication and relationship management skills.  They will be the first person to blame when a project does not go as expected, and for this need to be very accountable.
Typically, successful project managers do not jump into the role without performing another one on this list first.  The reason for this is that if they are managing timelines and estimates for a project, it's hard to tell if someone is right or wrong with what they're telling you if you have not done something similar in the past.  A PM who can not 'talk the talk' will have trouble gaining respect within their project team.


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Production Support

The production support role is responsible for fixing issues that occur once an application or system is working live. They generally consist of people who are expert within the systems they support and will be able to solve any problem that occurs.  This is again not a role that people typically go into as their first IT job.

IT Management

The last role, the IT management position is a team leader who handles much of the people management responsibilities of the team.  These include writing reviews, handling disciplinary actions and other issues that arise with their employees.
Like a PM, a manager is one of the first people who will be held accountable if something goes wrong with a project or application.  They typically work their way up the ladder, performing a few of the roles on this list, and gaining experience to handle a variety of situations.
In conclusion, there are a variety of IT positions that one can aspire to when coming out of school.  There is a shortage of critical thinking and IT leadership that companies are desperately trying to fill before the Baby Boomer generation fully hit the retirement age.  Once this occurs, opportunities will become available at even a faster rate than today, and strong performers will be setting themselves up for a successful career. 
Hopefully this answers questions or hesitations that you may have had about the IT profession.  Feel free to leave comments or ask any additional questions below!
Adventures of an It Leader
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