An information technology specialist, often called simply an “IT specialist,” works with computers and Internet networks in a variety of different settings. Most corporations have entire IT departments that help keep employees connected and websites in working order, though these are by no means the only jobs available. Schools, non-profit organizations, and basically all entities with a need for computer services and Internet technology employ people with IT expertise. These sorts of people often also work for computer companies themselves, providing help and support directly to clients. The day-to-day aspects of this job can vary, but in nearly all cases the work involves maintaining computer systems, keeping networks in working order, and being available to solve problems and address complaints as they arise.
Keeping physical computers in good working order is one of the most straight-forward aspects of any information technology specialist’s job. These people are usually the first ones to set up new systems in corporate settings, and they’re typically also responsible for helping new employees get set up and established with a work computer. Specialists sometimes hold courses or informal classes to help users get familiar with their machines, and usually have to be familiar with a variety of different systems and operating platforms.
Routine maintenance is also part of the job in most places. This usually means regularly checking machines for needed updates and making sure that programs like virus protection are up to date and in working order. Certain technical tasks like rewiring circuit boards and installing fresh memory chips may also be required.
Most computers are “networked,” which means that they are linked up to other machines either physically or through the Internet. Machines that are linked to each other in a more limited way usually are part of an “intranet,” which is a closed network within a corporation or business. This sort of setup allows users to quickly message or share information with each other that isn’t seen by the outside world. Connection to the larger Internet is much more global, and usually requires a slightly different system. In either case, IT specialists tend to be the ones who make sure that all computers and devices that need to be connected — including tablets and smartphones — are joined properly and safely.
Safety usually involves requiring passwords, but can also include things like building firewalls and cyber fences to protect information. Specialists are often in charge of setting up data protection measures to keep proprietary information that is stored in electronic format from being either accidentally distributed or intentionally hacked.
Troubleshooting and Problem Solving
Computers and network connections aren’t always straightforward, and often confuse people who don’t have expertise in the finer points of how they work. Many IT operators spend a lot of time troubleshooting and helping clients either understand their machines or solve problems. This can be as simple as retrieving a lost or forgotten password or as complex as reinstating a crashed website or debugging a computer that has been infected with a virus or other malicious code.
Different Work Settings
Most IT specialists go to work for private corporations, but this is by no means the extent of the job possibilities. Some specialists work for retail stores like grocery chains and spend most of their time traveling to different locations and working on-site; others staff remote call-in help desks where people with general questions about how to make their computers, phones, or other technology work can call for assistance. Computer stores and sales centers may also hire these sorts of people to help new purchasers get set up on their machines; they may also lead classes and orientation sessions for both personal and professional clients.
Required Training and Education
Most jobs in the IT sector require university-level education, and higher degrees typically lead to better pay and more advancement potential. An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in fields like computer science and engineering are typically good places to start, and many schools will offer all the way up to a doctorate in these fields. Many of the essentials needed for the job can be self-taught or learned through experience, though. It’s sometimes possible for people to get started in the field by proving their knowledge even if they don’t have a formal diploma.
Nuanced Military Definition
The term “information technology specialist” has a more specialized meaning within the United States Army, as it is the name of a military occupational strategy area dedicated exclusively to the maintenance, upkeep, and security of national defense computer systems. Uniformed personnel in this strategy area typically have to take specialized courses at military training facilities and have qualification requirements that are separate from those of civilians.