A certificate or an associate's degree are usually required to work as an information technology specialist, although a bachelor's degree is often preferred by employers. Some of the optional certifications that can help increase job prospects involve training in Oracle, Cisco, and Microsoft. The services that information technology specialists provide can include handling hardware and software issues, or monitoring networks and databases.
Information technology specialists work in positions using computer-based information systems. They work with both software applications and computer hardware. Entry-level positions require demonstrated computer knowledge and skills. Experience with multiple programming languages and diverse software and hardware is often expected. Certifications are voluntary but attest to knowledge and documented abilities for prospective employers.
|Required Education||Certificate or associate degree required; bachelor's degree preferred|
|Optional Certifications||Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle, Certified IT Specialist|
|Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)*||10% (for computer support specialists)|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$53,470|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Information Technology Specialist Job Description
Information technologists generally design, operate or maintain technology products. Not limited to employment with technology companies, information technology (IT) specialists may work with any businesses, agencies or organizations that use technology or manage large amounts of information. Regardless of the sector they work in, IT specialists usually provide similar services related to software, hardware, databases, Web resources, networks and enterprise systems.
Duties of an information technology specialist can include network management, software development and database administration. IT specialists may also provide technical support to a business or an organization's employees and train non-technical workers on the business's information systems. Advanced information technology specialists may design systems and assess the effectiveness of technology resources already in use or new systems that are being implemented. Additionally, they will determine the practicality of changes and modification of systems.
IT specialists will also work with external partners, including consultants, agencies and vendors, to arrive at the most appropriate system or integration of multiple systems. With information technology constantly changing, specialists must stay up-to-date on emerging technologies and the potential effectiveness of these advancements in their current system.
Salary and Career Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer support specialists, who share many responsibilities with IT specialists, could expect a faster than average increase of 10% in job opportunities from 2018-2028. Similarly, network and systems administrators could expect an average increase of 5% during the same time period. In May 2018, the BLS reported a median salary for network and computer systems administrators of $82,050 per year.
Training for an IT specialist can range from a few months in a certificate program to a doctoral degree. A majority of information technology specialists have completed a bachelor's degree program or higher, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Majors that prepare a person for work as an IT specialist include:
- Computer science
- Information science
- Operations research
Information technology specialists may earn certification on particular systems or technologies used regularly. Cisco, Oracle and Microsoft offer certification for their IT products. Three levels for the Certified IT Specialist credential are offered through The Open Group and are independent of any software vendor or hardware manufacturer. According to the U.S. Census Bureau other requirements might include training and experience in communication systems and networks, Internet and intranet development, data encryption and security (www.census.gov).
IT specialists are expected to have a firm grasp of several programming languages, as well as experience dealing with a range of software and hardware types. Computer science, information science, engineering, and operation research are all majors that may lead to a career as an information technology specialist. IT specialists can demonstrate proficiency in particular areas by completing professional certification programs.