Although only a few decades old, the information technology or IT field is as broad and deep as industries that have been around for centuries. IT job categories, titles and specialties abound – so many that anyone investigating IT as a career is likely to be very, very confused. What’s the difference between a Network Engineer and a Network Support Analyst? Between a Web Developer, a Web Designer and a Web Technology Specialist? Just what does a Database Administrator do?
Although labels and responsibilities tend to vary from employer to employer, here are some common IT job titles and their descriptions. Consider these when looking for an IT career that best suits your interests, talents and temperament:
Database Administrator – A database is any collection of information that a company or organization keeps on file (e.g. customer names, addresses, inventory, etc.) The Database Administrator (DBA) is in charge of organizing, maintaining and updating this database and creating systems so that people authorized to view, add or remove information are able to do so as quickly and as easily as possible.
Internet Solutions Developer - This is a “catch-all” description for a person responsible for devising and executing Internet-based projects. The job usually involves working with programs that allow the public to view and interact with a company, organization or agency’s Website.
IT Project Program Manager – This is a managerial position requiring some years of experience in the IT field. The IT Project Program Manager is responsible for finding solutions to IT-related problems and then implementing those solutions, often with the help of a team.
Network Administrator – A “network” is any collection of computers that are linked either to each other or to a central server so that information can be created, shared and updated. The Network Administrator is generally responsible for making sure than an existing network runs smoothly and for adding or removing hardware (computers, printers, etc.) and software (programs, applications) from the system.
Network and Security Specialist – The Network and Internet Security Specialist is the person responsible for making sure people who use a computer network only get access to that information they are allowed to see, that information in the network database’s is protected and properly preserved, and that the network cannot be accessed (or “hacked”) by unauthorized individuals, wherever they may be.
Network Engineer – The network engineer is usually responsible for 1) Designing new computer networks, 2) Actually creating these networks, 3) Installing the computers and software that connect to the networks and, 4) Ensuring the network is able to grow and function as needed.
Network Support Analyst – A Network Support Analyst is much like a Network Administrator in that he/she is responsible for keeping an existing network operating as needed, but has fewer managerial responsibilities. The Network Support Analyst may also be responsible for monitoring how people actually use the network, identifying problem areas and then recommending and implementing solutions.
Software Developer/Engineer – “Software” is the set of instructions that make a computer do what you want it to do. The Software Developer/Engineer is the person who writes the instructions, also known as “code,” for these computer programs/applications. Software Developer/Engineers may work “in-house” developing customized programs for a specific employer or client, or may work on programs that are then sold commercially.
Technical Support Specialist – Computers and networks invariably have problems, and it’s the Technical Support Specialist’s job to identify these problems and find a way to correct them. Technical Support Specialists often work at “help desks” where they communicate with company employees or customers by phone, IM or email.
Web Developer – Web Developers create, maintain and update the functional aspects of Websites, be they on the Internet or on a company’s internal Intranet. When designing a new site, they’re usually responsible for creating its architecture, navigation and interactive functions. They may also be responsible for creating programs or applications designed specifically for the Web.
Web Designer – While the Web Developer is concerned with the technical aspects of a Website or Web-based application, the Web Designer is responsible for how such a site or application actually looks. This is an artistic position that requires training and experience in graphic design and layout – and perhaps even animation — as well as the technical aspects of Web operations.
Web Technology Specialist – This position combines the responsibilities of the Web Developer and Web Designer. The Web Technology Specialist needs to not only the technical aspects of Websites and applications, but also needs to frequently handle the design and graphic aspects as well.
If you are considering career training in Information Technology, you need to understand these (and other) job descriptions so you can pursue the education and training that will qualify you for the kind of IT job that fits your talent and personality.