01/31/2024


must have IT skills

 

Today, information technology (IT) plays a major role in almost every aspect of our lives and everyone needs skills to succeed in a digital world, according to Bernard Marr of Forbes. From the way we communicate to the way we work, computers, artificial intelligence (AI), data visualization, and machine learning have become an integral part of our daily lives.

Pursuing an IT career no longer restricts you to the tech industry, however. The IT field is now intertwined with everything from healthcare to education to government agencies. But there are certain must-have IT skills that programmers should have.

 

Technical IT Skills

Working in IT demands a unique set of technical skills. IT professionals run the gamut, with specialties ranging from information security to building software. They tend to be data-driven, analytical individuals.

However, the IT space is constantly changing and advancing. An IT skill set isn’t simply acquired; it is sharpened and increased with time and experience.

Ideally, there are seven must-have IT skills that aspiring programmers should work to develop:

  • Programming knowledge
  • Network security
  • Database design and management
  • Operating systems
  • Hardware and computer architecture
  • Data analysis
  • Project management

 

Programming Knowledge

With a firm grasp of programming languages such as Java, Python, or C++, an IT professional can develop software applications that cater to specific needs. Software development projects may include creating mobile apps, building desktop programs, and developing web applications.

Whether a task involves designing a user-friendly interface or implementing complex algorithms, a programming language come into play throughout the entire project lifecycle.

 

Network Security

Networks allow computers and devices to communicate with one another. IT personnel must be familiar with the functions and purposes of network components, which may include servers, routers, switches, and firewalls.

IT professionals also troubleshoot network issues, optimize network performance, and implement effective security measures to protect sensitive data. This knowledge is key for providing technical support within a company and enabling intrusion detection.

 

Database Design and Management

Companies use databases to store and retrieve vast amounts of data efficiently. Consequently, some IT projects may call for technical skills in database design, implementation, and management. These IT skills are fundamental for ensuring data integrity, optimizing database performance, and creating effective backup and recovery strategies.

IT professionals may also use technical skills to design and implement data models or contribute to other data visualization work. This work is pivotal for equipping organizations with accurate and reliable data, which is then used to inform decision-making.

 

Operating Systems

Many IT tasks require familiarity with an operating system (OS). Whether an organization uses Windows, MacOS, Linux, or even cloud-based operating systems, IT and help desk teams must be well-versed in the nuances of a operating system to perform their jobs.

With a deep understanding of an operating system, IT experts can diagnose and resolve software-related issues, optimize system performance, and ensure compatibility between software and hardware components. They can also implement security measures to protect systems from malware and unauthorized access.

 

Hardware and Computer Architecture

IT specialists must understand computer architecture to diagnose and resolve hardware-related issues. Familiarity with computer architecture makes it possible to optimize system performance by selecting the right hardware components and configuring them appropriately.

Computer architecture knowledge is also helpful during the troubleshooting of hardware failures and developing hardware maintenance strategies. In addition, this type of knowledge is useful for determining compatibility between hardware and software.

 

Data Analysis

Data analysis skills enable IT pros to contribute to strategic planning and innovation, making them indispensable skills in today's data-driven business landscape.

"Modern-day, data-drive businesses need to engage in intelligent data analytics to stay competitive and secure. Data analytics should be a cornerstone for every competitive business."
Dr. Andre Slonopas
Faculty Member

Project Management

Project management skills are of paramount importance during the software development process. Project management involves carefully planning, executing, and overseeing tasks to ensure teams meet objectives within their set timelines and budgets.

Other skills related to project management may include coordinating with diverse teams and managing resources. Navigating the intricacies of IT initiatives often involves integrating new technologies as well.

Consequently, IT personnel are instrumental in propelling work forward while fostering innovation and growth among teams.

 

Soft Skills

While technical skills are central to IT work, soft skills are equally important. To be effective, those who aspire to work in IT should possess several soft skills such as:

  • Problem-solving
  • Communication
  • Adaptability
  • Attention to detail
  • Organizational/time management skills
  • A passion for learning

 

Problem-Solving

Information technology experts often encounter complex problems. Finding adequate solutions requires analytical thinking and a degree of innovation.

For example, a software developer may come across a bug in the code that's causing a critical system malfunction or affecting application security. In this scenario, problem-solving skills are put to the test as the developer analyzes the code, identifies the issue’s root cause, and devises a workable solution.

Being able to apply critical thinking and creative skills to find bespoke solutions to nuanced, unexpected problems is what sets exceptional information technology professionals apart.

 

Communication

IT specialists must be able to explain technical concepts to non-technical individuals. They may find themselves working with other teams on various tasks.

Members of these other teams may not have the same skills that software engineers, data analysts, or network engineers will possess. As a result, technical information may need to be carefully explained to them.

Their jobs may even necessitate interaction with clients or end users who lack IT skills and need tech support. Being able to communicate highly technical concepts in a clear, understandable manner is an important skill.

 

Adaptability

Technology is evolving at such a rapid pace. Less than 20 years ago, terms such as “big data,” “cloud computing” and “machine learning” were all relatively unknown concepts. Today, they’re as commonplace in the IT world as data itself.  

IT pros must be open to change. Change may come in the form of new tools, updated programming languages, or even modifications to frameworks. Regardless of what form it takes, though, change is something IT personnel can never escape.

"Adaptability and virtues should be the foundation, not an afterthought, for a successful business. Embracing change, whether technological, administrative, or managerial, is crucial for businesses to stay competitive in the market."
Dr. Andre Slonopas
Faculty Member

Attention to Detail

Paying close attention to detail helps prevent errors and ensure accuracy when completing any task. For instance, think about cybersecurity analysts; they conduct thorough security audits of companies’ systems. 

For cybersecurity analysts, attention to detail is crucial for identifying vulnerabilities or weaknesses that hackers could exploit. Meticulously examining every aspect of a system is the only way to ensure all required security measures are in place and that the company's data remains protected.

 

Organization/Time Management Skills

IT specialists use time management and organizational skills to handle multiple tasks simultaneously and meet deadlines efficiently.

For example, overseeing the development of a mobile application means managing a team of developers, designers, and testers, as they all work on different aspects of the project. Effective time management and organization help everyone work towards a common goal and complete the project within the specified timeframe.

 

A Passion for Learning

A passion for learning is a must in a field that is constantly evolving. For instance, data scientists who work with large datasets need to keep up with all the latest advancements in data analysis techniques and tools.

Possessing an eagerness to learn will make work even more satisfying. It’s important to explore new methodologies, attend relevant workshops and conferences, and engage in continuous professional development.

 

Navigating IT Educational Paths and Certifications

There are a host of IT programs to consider for a comprehensive understanding of various concepts, including algorithms, data structures, software engineering, and computer architecture. You may wish to pursue a bachelor's degree in computer science or a master's in information technology, for instance.

You may even seek certifications to help demonstrate your expertise in specific areas of computer technology. Certifications such as CompTIA A+, Network+, Security+, and Cisco CCNA validate your proficiency in hardware, computer networks, and cybersecurity.

There are also more niche credentials, like the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Developer certification. An Amazon Web Services® Certified Developer certification validates skills in designing, building, and deploying applications on the AWS platform.

By obtaining industry-specific certifications, a bachelor's degree or a master's degree, IT pros can position themselves as experts in specific domains. Earning these credentials not only demonstrates an understanding of specific course material; each may represent a commitment to learning and professional development.

 

How to Develop IT Skills While Gaining Real-World Experience

Education and certifications are a great first step, but gaining practical experience will help you to strengthen your IT skills. There are three ways to gain practical IT experience: internships/entry-level positions, personal projects, or open-source work.

 

Internships or Entry-Level Positions

Internships or entry-level positions may allow you to apply your theoretical learning in real-world scenarios. You can gain hands-on experience working alongside experienced professionals and immerse yourself in day-to-day operations.

An internship or entry-level job could be a great place to learn from others’ expertise, observe their problem-solving techniques, and gain valuable insights into the IT industry. You may have the opportunity to exercise your skills in teamwork, communication, and problem-solving as you create new professional connections.

 

Personal Projects

Creating websites, mobile apps, or software applications further develops your IT skills. Whether you are developing a personal blog, building a mobile game, or designing a web-based tool, this type of work allows you to explore your creativity and experiment with different technologies.

You may sharpen your problem-solving skills at the same time. As you work, challenges may arise that require you to research, learn new programming languages, or explore different frameworks.

This process of self-directed learning not only expands your technical proficiency, but also demonstrates your commitment to staying up to date with the field’s latest trends and technologies.

 

Open-Source Work

If you want to collaborate with other IT pros, learn from experienced individuals, and expand your network, look for ways to contribute to an open-source project. If you are involved in software development, for instance, you may gain exposure to different coding styles and receive helpful feedback from your peers.

Belonging to a community means you can engage in thought-provoking discussions, share your software development knowledge, and learn from others’ experiences in areas such as cloud computing or data analytics. You can help foster a collaborative and supportive environment, all while networking with others in the IT world.

Over time, you may glean insights into different career paths, needed skills, and industry trends. You might even hear about possible jobs involving programming, cloud computing, data visualization, desktop software development, or other areas of the IT world for people with the right skills.

 

How to Stay Current in the Tech Industry

Keeping a pulse on the latest trends, advancements, and innovations in IT is vital. There is a massive amount of technology being released – and updated – on a regular basis.

 

Read Industry News Journals

One way to stay current is by reading industry publications and following technology websites. You may also want to subscribe to newsletters, blogs, or podcasts that provide updates on emerging technologies and trends.

For instance, if you're interested in cloud computing or machine learning, you may want to follow a blog, receive a newsletter, or listen to a podcast that talks about the latest trends in cloud computing or machine learning.

 

Attend Workshops

IT experts attend conferences and seminars. These events permit networking with industry experts and enable attendees to focus on gaining insights into cutting-edge technologies.

 

Participate in Online Forums

Engaging in online communities, forums, or coding competitions helps foster collaboration and knowledge-sharing with among IT experts.

 

Ready to Develop Your IT Skills?

Working with technology requires a combination of technical IT skills, soft skills, practical experience, and a commitment to ongoing education.

With the right combination of technical skills, soft skills, and education, IT enthusiasts can start to gain invaluable, hands-on experience.

If you are considering an information technology degree, you may wish to explore taking a course in our IT degree programs as a way of developing relevant skills. Our online programs feature courses led by industry experts, and classes start monthly.

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