Deciding on a career can be a challenging task, especially if you decide that you want to work in the Information Technology (IT) field. Like the medical field, those working in IT need a broad knowledge base, a wide range of skills, and a positive attitude towards work and learning. Of course, like medicine, there are also many career paths in IT.

Just as a doctor can be a general practitioner or specialize in a specific area, the same is true in IT; you can be the “expert of everything” for a small business, or specialize in a specific subject area. There are a wide variety of specializations, such as security, networking, and virtualization.

To pursue a career in the IT field, there are a few important characteristics that are vital to your success. First, you must love learning. The amount of knowledge that you need to have is nearly limitless, as technology changes so quickly that you will spend the rest of your career learning. If you don’t love, or want, to learn new things, IT may not be the career path for you.

You also need to have the right attitude. You need to be dedicated and hard working. A career in IT involves working long hours, as maintenance and upgrades have to be performed after hours when there’s no one using the servers. If there is trouble with a system, there’s no choice but to keep working until that system is up and running again, or until you create a workaround so people can keep working while you fix the actual problem. Downtime for a business means lost money, so you need to do everything you can to keep it to a minimum.

Problem-solving and analytical skills are also highly important, since every day brings a different set of problems and challenges. Being able to solve problems efficiently helps keep the company running smoothly and making money.

Reliable and up-to-date documentation has to be kept for system configurations, so good technical writing skills are essential. As you have to interact with many different people every day, good customer service and communication skills will go a long way in providing the best possible tech support.

Choosing a career in IT can offer a rich and fulfilling career for those who love to work in a fast-paced, demanding environment. No matter what business you can think of nowadays, there are always IT professionals working in the background to keep things running and accessible. Could one of them be you?

This article first appeared in Memorial University’s student newspaper: The Muse

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