What is an Information Technology Specialist?

Information technology specialist is an umbrella term used to describe professionals in titles covering the full spectrum of computer tech specialties. IT specialists land above technicians yet below managers on the corporate ladder to play mid-level roles in the setup and maintenance of organizations’ computer networks. Different IT specialties include cyber security, network administration, auditing, web development, software design, mobile computing, and big data. The demand for information technology specialists is skyrocketing with positions expected to rise 12 percent through 2024 for 488,500 new U.S. jobs across IT specialties, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Several specialist titles like information assurance analyst and webmaster even made CNN’s “100 Best Jobs in America.” If you’re an analytical problem-solver who’s fond of computers, here’s what you should know about information technology specialists.

What Information Technology Specialists Do

Daily responsibilities can vary across functions, but most IT specialists share the common goal of installing, modifying, and improving the hardware or software systems that keep businesses connected. Information technology specialists perform duties as assigned to customize the computer network to suit the unique needs of each user. Typical tasks include providing support to tech glitches, procuring computer equipment, analyzing network stats, administering security protocols, establishing backup media, and recommending IT upgrades. For example, database administrators are IT specialists who organize digital data on everything from patient records to shipping logistics. Computer programmers are other IT specialists who generate the code for interactive software without bugs.

Where Information Technology Specialists Work

There are currently 3.9 million jobs in the United States across industries for information technology specialists. The majority work unsurprisingly in computer systems design and related services. IT specialists commonly employed by private sector organizations who need computer support. Fortune ranked Google, Genentech, Ultimate Software, KPMG, Intuit, SAS, and Cooley among America’s “100 Best Companies to Work For.” Specializing in information technology is also possible at telecommunications firms, schools, banks, data processing companies, manufacturers, and hospitals. Most IT specialists are employed full-time in traditional office settings with several hours spend behind computer screens. Today’s digital workforce also offers IT specialists telecommuting jobs from home.

How to Become an Information Technology Specialist

Breaking into the IT field beyond the technician level usually requires post-secondary education for a two-year associate or four-year bachelor’s degree. Accredited colleges offer a slew of Bachelor of Science  majors like information technology, computer science, network administration, IT security, and data mining to choose from. Actual lab experience using computing languages, especially C++, SQL, Java, and HTML, is essential. Amazon, Oracle, Yahoo, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, and Apple are just a few tech companies offering great IT internships. Information technology specialists could also stand out by getting professionally certified. For instance, you could become an AWS Certified Solutions Architect, Citrix Certified Associate, Certified Information Systems Auditor, or Cisco Certified Networking Professional.

Related Resource: What is a Cyber Security Specialist?

Overall, information technology specialists claim various titles for implementing data and networking systems that help businesses run more effectively. PayScale reports that the median yearly wage for IT specialists is $54,606, or $18.87 per hour. Becoming an IT specialist is frequently the first step toward advanced positions like systems administrator, senior project manager, IT program director, and Chief Information Officer (CIO). Demand is heated for computer-savvy college students to consider becoming an information technology specialist and helping process massive amounts of electronic data.