As the world has become increasingly interconnectedand digital systems more important to businesses of every shape and size, the demand for IT graduates has also increased. IT and communication systems underpin almost every industry and business niche within the UK, meaning there are opportunities to work in virtually any sector you might be interested in.
There are a number of major employers that can be said to exist within the IT (sometimes called ICT) sector itself, and names such as IBM, Microsoft, Accenture, Cisco, Logica, Google and Oracle will be familiar to the majority of IT graduates. Employers within the industry could include IT consultancy firms and service providers, telecom companies and software and tech development companies. At the same time, other industries also require IT specialists and, while some will outsource to third party service providers, others will operate their own IT services in-house. Opportunities exist in a wide range of industries, including financial services, manufacturing, the public sector and retail. Some areas such as the gaming industry combine elements of IT with other areas including creative, marketing and retail.
Along with the opportunities to work within a wide range of different fields, IT graduates can also enjoy the freedom of working as employees or on a self-employed freelance or contractor basis. Many programmers, developers, digital designers and other professionals within the IT sphere prefer to work on a contractor basis, choosing their current and future projects on their own terms. Graduates looking to follow this route should be aware that it can be difficult at first as experience and a proven track record can help in landing further contracts. They should also familiarise themselves with tax implications, including taking IR35 advice, which deals with issues for contractors who do not meet HMRC’s definition of self-employment. However, contracting can be an extremely rewarding way of working.
Whether they work within IT or another industry, in employment or as contractors, some typical roles for IT graduates include:
Also known by alternative names including application programmer and software architect, software engineers normally design and program system-level software such as operating and database systems. This can involve consulting with colleagues or clients to identify the exact solutions required and may therefore require more than just technical skills.
A systems analyst analyses business problems and designs information systems to solve them. This role typically requires a good mix of business knowledge and technical skills.
As the trouble-shooters of the IT world, these professionals respond to problems experienced by colleagues, business customers, general consumers and other end users, helping them to solve problems as they arise and also installing and providing instruction on various hardware and software systems.
This is a pretty broad term as it encompasses all the elements required to design, build and maintain websites, as well as the entire infrastructure they require.
There are, of course, many other roles under the umbrella term of IT. It continues to be a fast-moving and exciting area of employment, as well as one that is vital to the wider economy.