What Is Information Technology?

What is IT_ 1 (1)Information technology (IT) is the use of computer systems or devices to access information. Information technology is responsible for such a large portion of our workforce, business operations and personal access to information that it comprises much of our daily activities. Whether you are storing, retrieving, accessing or manipulating information, IT greatly impacts our everyday lives.

Information technology is used by everyone from enterprise companies all the way down to one-person businesses and local operations. Global companies use it to manage data and innovate their processes. Even flea market sellers use smartphone credit card readers to collect payments and street performers give out a Venmo name to gather donations. If you use a spreadsheet to catalogue which Christmas presents you bought, you’re using information technology.

What Are the Types of Information Technology?

Information technology is a broad term that involves the use of technology to communicate, transfer data and process information.

The different trends within information technology include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Analytics
  • Automation
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Cloud computing
  • Communications
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data/database management
  • Infrastructure
  • Internet of things
  • Machine learning
  • Maintenance and repair
  • Networks
  • Robotics
  • Software/application development

This list is by no means exhaustive and new applications for technology are constantly emerging.

What Is the Role of Information Technology?

Information technology plays a prominent role in business and provides a foundation for much of our current workforce. From communications to data management and operational efficiency, IT supports many business functions and helps drive productivity.

Why Do We Need Information Technology?

Information technology drives much of what we do in our personal and professional lives. It is the foundation of our communication, technological advancement, innovation, sustainability and recreation. We use information technology on a personal level to connect and communicate with others, play games, share media, shop and be social.

From a career perspective, information technology is largely responsible for much of our business operations and spans nearly every industry. From healthcare to food services, manufacturing to sales, and beyond, we rely on IT to help connect us to others, store and manage information and create more efficient processes.

IT Career Opportunities

According to Cyberstates 2020, there were 12.1 million technology-based jobs in 2020, which continues to grow year over year. Careers in IT span many different areas, from computer hardware and software development to networking, computer repair, technical support, cybersecurity, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, data science and so much more. What originally began as a siloed department, information technology is now considered a critical business function that impacts nearly every aspect of an organization.

What Exactly Is an IT Job?

An IT job is any position that involves the implementation, support, maintenance, repair or protection of data or computer systems. Those involved in development, deployment or support of the systems or applications others use are the most common examples of IT jobs. If you like problem solving and being an active learner, a technology job could be right for you.

Examples of IT Jobs

IT jobs run the gamut. Here’s a brief rundown of some IT job possibilities. Keep in mind that these positions can also be industry specific, so you could work one of the following roles in an industry of your choice.

Hardware-based IT jobs could include any of the following:

Software-based jobs might involve developing applications or programs and may include the following:

  • Software developer
  • Software engineer
  • Programmer
  • Mobile application developer
  • Web developer
  • Product owner/support

IT jobs that involve data protection or incident response fall under cybersecurity and may include the following:

Jobs in information technology that involve data collection, storage or analysis fall under data jobs, which may include:

As with any industry, there are several IT jobs that are leadership positions. These may include jobs such as:

What IT Jobs Pay the Best?

Typically, IT jobs pay more based on complexity or leadership level. For example, if an IT position requires a high level of technical expertise, a degree in computer science, or is an executive position, you are looking at a higher wage.

According to Salary.com, here are some of the highest paid IT jobs.

  • Computer and information systems managers earn a median wage of $146,360
  • Cloud engineers earn a median wage of $136,479
  • Cybersecurity engineers earn a median wage of $134,340
  • Computer and information research scientists earn a median wage of $122,840
  • Computer hardware engineers earn a median wage of $117,220
  • Computer network architects earn a median wage of $112,690
  • Software developers and software QA analysts and testers earn a median wage of $107,510

See how much you could earn in different IT jobs with our IT salary calculator.

What Is the Easiest IT Field to Get Into?

Fortunately, IT professionals are in fairly high demand. Some IT fields are easier than others to enter. Other fields can be very competitive or require highly specialized skills.

Here are some of the easiest fields to enter in information technology, most of which can be accomplished without a bachelor’s degree and will have readily available job openings.

  • Technical support
  • Computer repair/technician
  • Desktop support
  • Network support

IT certifications prove to employers that you have the skills needed for technology jobs, even if you don’t have a degree. CompTIA A+, an entry-level IT certification, is the industry standard for establishing a career in IT and covers the foundational skills needed to get your first IT job and build a successful IT career.

Learn more about how to get into IT without a degree.

What Are Good Entry-Level IT Jobs?

If you’re looking for an entry-level IT job, you might have good luck starting with the following:

  • Computer repair specialist
  • Help desk
  • Web developer
  • Technical support

Is Information Technology a Good Career?

The short answer is yes, absolutely! Information technology provides careers in varying levels of complexity and allows you to work in nearly any vertical industry you like. Because information technology is the foundation for much of our business operations, the options are boundless. Wages also afford a good standard of living and there is little chance that your job will become obsolete.

Information technology isn’t just a good job. There are so many opportunities for advancement and continuing education that allow you to take control of your career pathway. For example, you could start as a Tier 1 help desk technician and advance to Tiers 2 and 3 as you gain experience and improve your skills. Or you could move from the help desk to network administration, cybersecurity or any number of other IT specialties. The world is your oyster!

Getting Started in Information Technology

If you want to get started in information technology, IT certifications provide a foundation of knowledge, test for specific skillsets and let you showcase your technical skills. Depending on the path you take or the specialty you’re interested in, you may choose to get a two-year, bachelor’s or master’s degree to make yourself more competitive, but it’s not always necessary. The beauty of a career in IT is that you can begin without a formal education and work your way up or choose to expand your skills as you see fit.

IT Industry Certifications

There are a variety of IT certifications that can help you break into an IT field. CompTIA provides vendor-neutral certifications, which means the skills covered by our certifications prepare you to work on any vendor’s products.

Adding on a vendor-specific certification, such as those from Amazon Web Services (AWS), Cisco and Microsoft, allow you to home in on those platforms and equipment.

CompTIA certifications are developed with job roles in mind – the skills covered by our certifications are the ones used by IT pros every day. In fact, IT pros and managers contribute to the development of CompTIA exams to ensure that our certifications are relevant to today’s IT workforce. See what kinds of IT jobs you could get with CompTIA certifications.

Other IT certifications also align with specific IT jobs, such as: Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) and Certified Data Professional (CDP).

Which IT Certification Should I Get First?

It’s a good idea to get foundational knowledge first and then build on those certifications once you’ve identified your areas of interest.

The best IT certifications to start with would be:

  • CompTIA IT Fundamentals+ (ITF+)
  • CompTIA A+
  • Microsoft 365 Fundamentals
  • Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA)
  • Systems Security Certified Practitioner

Are you intrigued? Take our quiz to see if IT is right for you.

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