Information Technology Specialist: Job Description and Requirements

Information technology specialists work in positions using computer-based information systems. They work with both software applications and computer hardware.

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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.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer support specialists, who share many responsibilities with IT specialists, could expect an increase of 18% in job opportunities from 2010-2020. Similarly, network and systems administrators could expect an increase of 28% during the same time period. Computer network support specialists earned an average annual wage of $62,960 in May 2012, while network and systems administrators earned an average of $76,320 per year, reports the BLS.

Requirements

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
  • Mathematics
  • Engineering
  • Statistics
  • Operations research

Entry-level positions require demonstrated computer knowledge and skills. Experience with multiple programming languages and diverse software and hardware is often expected.

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. Certifications are voluntary but attest to knowledge and documented abilities for prospective employers. 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).

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