The IT Environment. Section Three Careers in the Information Technology Industry

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1 Vocational Education and Training Training Toolbox Series Student Manual ICA11v1.0 Information, Digital Media & Technology Cert. 1, 2 & 3 ICA10111, ICA20111, ICA30111 The IT Environment Section Three Careers in the Information Technology Industry

2 EdSonic Publications Pty Ltd PO Box 975 COWES VICTORIA 3922 All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the written permission of EdSonic or an authorised representative. Authored by Robin Lick PUBLISHED IN AUSTRALIA

3 3 INTRODUCTION This manual is designed to be used by the student as further learning materials in conjunction with any classroom presentation and supplemented by the classroom presentation handouts. Introduction The materials in this manual is cross referenced in the classroom presentation handouts by page numbers. This allows the student to source additional information to that which was presented in the classroom. Alternatively, the teacher may instruct the student during any presentation to review the materials in this manual by referring the relevant page numbers.

4 4 Introduction Continued SELF ASSESSMENT At the end of each section you, the student, will be asked a series of YES and NO questions. If any question is unclear our you have answered NO, then you are encouraged to review the materials in that section again. The Self Assessment section is indicated with an icon.? Self Assessment

5 5 Table of Contents SECTION THREE CAREERS IN THE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY Section Learning Objectives Page 6 Section Introduction Page 6 Systems Analyst Page 7 The Database Administrator Page 8 The Telecommunications Manager (Network) Page 9 The Webmaster Page 10 The Chief Information Officer/Technical Officer Page 11 The Chief Knowledge Officer Page 12 The Independent Consultant Page 13 Programmer Page 14 Computer Scientists Page 15 Software Engineers Page 16 Hardware Engineers Page 17 Web Development Page 18 Sales and Marketing Page 19 Section Summary Page 20

6 6 SECTION 3 CAREERS IN THE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY WHAT OUTCOME CAN YOU EXPECT FROM THIS SECTION? This section is will give you a broad overview of the careers that are available within the IT industry. SECTION LEARNING OBJECTIVES On completion of this section you will learn: The titles of positions within the IT industry What the roles are of persons filling those positions SECTION INTRODUCTION As in many industries and professions, the IT trade is made up of people engaged in a wide range of activities. While system analysts and software developers are the most common professions in the IT sector, many specialise in narrowly defined areas of expertise within the IT industry. Examples are those that provide management consulting services that advise clients on how to use technology in their business, and these professionals may never touch a client s computer. In this section we look at some of the areas of specialisation within the IT industry. We will look at: The Systems Analyst The Database Administrator The Telecommunications Manager The Webmaster The Chief Information Officer/Technology Officer The Chief Knowledge Officer The Independent Consultant Programming Computer Scientists Software Engineers Hardware Engineers Web Development Sales and Marketing

7 7 SYSTEMS ANALYST A system analyst requires a broad range of skills. You will find that most system analysts started off as programmers. A systems analyst is partly involved in the analysis of the business or organisation s needs. Because of their programming background, a system analyst will usually participate in the programming of the business applications. A system analyst must possess strong communication skills. They need to be able to translate user needs into system concepts and convert those concepts into a working system. The biggest challenge a system analyst will face is people or organisations that resist change. Technology is constantly improving and offering better business solutions that when implemented, can cause stress within corporate or organisational cultures. Since employees including managers, resist change, system analysts must be able to convince them that the change will be of benefit to them. Thus, these types of IT professionals need strong persuasive and presentation skills.

8 8 THE DATABASE ADMINISTRATOR The database administrator is quite an important role. They manage all the information of a company or organisation. This can be both a very sensitive and powerful position. Since access to information connotes power, the database administrator must be technically capable, but also very politically astute. A database manager is normally responsible for the acquisition of database software applications, and is heavily involved in the decisions made as to how the data is to be used and by whom. The data administrator will be responsible for: Overall planning and design of organisational databases Establishing security measures protecting data and information Establishing backup measures and recovery measures in the event of system failure Designing and training persons in updating methods Integrating the database with other organisation information systems The database administrator also has the responsibility of designing data manipulation methods so that those accessing the data receive meaningful information.

9 9 THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS MANAGER (NETWORK) This is somewhat an overlap position when strictly speaking about IT or information systems. However information systems rely heavily on data transfer and data communications and this has created a specialised professional field within the IT sector. Generally the telecommunications manger is responsible for the acquisition, management, maintenance, and troubleshooting of computer networks. This position has become even more critical with the introduction of the Internet, and the reliance many organisations have on the web. The telecommunications manager or network manager is responsible for: The data and interactivity needs of the organisations current and future needs The most cost effective methods of creating a viable network Security of networks Internet access and Internet security Integrating traditional communication needs (telephone, video conferencing, etc) with the information systems Managing connectivity problems Choice of hardware and software acquisitions One of the most critical roles of a telecommunications or network manager is the network security. This includes the establishment of access codes and firewalls.

10 10 THE WEBMASTER The Webmaster is responsible for creating and maintaining an organisation s website and the organisation s intranet and extranet pages. With the rapid uptake of the Internet and the popular use of the Web as well as internal intranets the Webmaster s responsibility has increased dramatically. A Webmaster must not only be proficient in web technologies but also understand business strategies and security issues as well. The web resources within an organisation are very important business tools these days. The Webmaster must be able to creatively represent the organisation on the web. Many companies use the web for E-Commerce so the Webmaster must be well versed in web transaction software, payment processing software and security software.

11 11 THE CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER/TECHNICAL OFFICER If any organisation has created a position for a Chief Information Officer or a Chief Technical Officer, it immediate shows how much importance the organisation has placed on their information systems. The Chief Information Officer (CIO) is responsible for all aspects of an organisation s information systems. It is an executive position therefore requires the reporting to higher management, and is sometimes also a company Board member. Some companies or organisations call the Chief Information Officer their Chief Technical Officer. In larger organisations there is a separate position for a Chief Technical Officer who would report to the CIO. A person who holds the position of CIO must have both technical knowledge of current and developing information technologies as well as a strong business knowledge. This includes the ability to understand how current and new technologies can benefit the organisation when implemented. The Chief Information Officer position is a high paying job. It is also one of the most demanding positions. Typically the position requires: Overseeing all information systems research and development within the organisation as well as identifying technologies that will benefit the organisation. Overseeing and maintaining the information systems infrastructure including hardware, software and stuff. Being able to present new technical processes to an organisation that may be generally resistant to change. Must think like a Managing Director and be able to tie IT into the overall corporate strategy. Leadership of staff and the ability to inspire, foster enthusiasm for new projects and lead by example.

12 12 THE CHIEF KNOWLEDGE OFFICER This is a recently created position in many organisations. The typical types of organisations you will find the Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO) are those that rely heavily on knowledge and intellectual property. Examples of such organisations would be the larger management consulting businesses or accounting practises. The CKO is responsible for collecting, accumulating, organising and retrieving knowledge that are strategically important to the organisation. The resources include employees, databases, websites and commercial data resources available online or on media such as CD ROMs and other storage types. In service business such as accounting firms, knowledge is accumulated through interaction with clients. This knowledge is used to assist the firm to be more efficient by using knowledge gained from one client to help others. This type of resource reduces the need to reinvent the wheel with other clients who may need similar advice in the future. The CKO acquires the knowledge and works closely with the CIO or CTO who would oversee the implementation of the knowledge distribution through the information systems.

13 13 THE INDEPENDENT CONSULTANT Many companies turn to independent consultants for advice on virtually every aspect of their information systems, including advice on hardware, software applications, website development, just to name a few. There are many independent programmers contracted by software developers or organisations on a project-by-project basis, many times integrated with project teams comprising of regular employees of the company. Companies hire contractors or consultants in areas where they internally lack the necessary skills. Consultants can be of the technical type or the non-technical type. Consultants such as database designers or hardware specialists would be the technical type, whereas a consultant specialising in business process would not need in-depth technical knowledge and would likely be dealing with the higher management team. Many people turn to the consulting business after working for a company and gaining experience in a chosen field of IT. The typical consultant works from home using traditional communication methods with clients, such as telephone or and collaborative software. This promotes a more flexible lifestyle not usually possible when working as an employee for larger organisations.

14 14 PROGRAMMER Computer programmers write, test, and maintain the detailed instructions, called programs, that computers must follow to perform their functions. Job titles and descriptions may vary, depending on the organisation. Here we refer to computer programmers as individuals whose main job function is programming; this group has a wide range of responsibilities and educational backgrounds. In most cases, several programmers work together as a team under a senior programmer's supervision. Programmers write programs according to the specifications determined primarily by computer software engineers and system analysts. Many programmers update, repair, modify and expand existing programs. Programmers generally know more than one programming language; and since many languages are similar, they often can learn new languages relatively easily. In practice, programmers often are referred to by the language they know, such as Java programmers, or the type of function they perform or environment in which they work, such as database programmers, mainframe programmers or Internet programmers. Programmers test a program by running it, to ensure the instructions are correct and it produces the desired information. If errors do occur, the programmer must make the appropriate change and recheck the program until it produces the correct results. This process is called debugging. Programmers may need to continue to fix these problems throughout the life of a program. Programmers often are grouped into two broad types applications programmers and systems programmers. Applications programmers write programs to handle a specific job, such as a program to track inventory, within an organisation. They may also revise existing packaged software. Systems programmers, on the other hand, write programs to maintain and control computer systems software, such as operating systems, networked systems, and database systems. Programmers in software development companies may work directly with experts from various fields to create software either programs designed for specific clients or packaged software for general use ranging from games and educational software to programs for desktop publishing, financial planning, and spreadsheets. Much of this type of programming is in the preparation of packaged software, which comprises one of the most rapidly growing segments of the computer services industry.

15 15 COMPUTER SCIENTISTS Computer scientists work as theorists, researchers, or inventors. Their jobs are known for the need of a higher level of theoretical expertise and innovation, which they apply to complex problems and the creation, or application of new technology. Those employed by academic institutions, such as universities or research centres, work in areas ranging from complexity theory, to hardware, to programming language design. Some work on multidisciplinary projects, such as developing and looking for uses of virtual reality, in human-computer interaction or in robotics. Computer scientists in private industry work in areas such as applying theory, developing specialised languages or information technologies or designing programming tools, knowledge-based systems, or even computer games.

16 16 SOFTWARE ENGINEERS Computer software engineers apply the principles and techniques of computer science, engineering, and mathematical analysis to the design, development, testing, and evaluation of the software and systems that enable computers to perform their many applications. Computer applications software engineers analyse users' needs and design, create, and modify general computer applications software or specialised utility programs. Some software engineers develop both packaged systems and systems software or create customised applications. Computer systems software engineers coordinate the construction and maintenance of a company's computer systems and plan their future growth. Working with a company, they coordinate each department's computer needs-ordering, inventory, billing, and payroll record keeping, for example and make suggestions about its technical direction. They also might set up the company's intranets, networks that link computers within the organisation and ease communication. Systems software engineers work for companies that configure, implement and install complete computer systems. They may be members of the marketing or sales staff, where they serve as the primary technical resource for sales force and customers. They also may be involved in product sales and in providing their customers with continuing technical support. Computer software engineers often work as part of a team that designs new hardware, software, and systems. A core team may be comprised of engineering, marketing, manufacturing, and design people who work together until the product is released.

17 17 HARDWARE ENGINEERS Computer hardware engineers research, design, develop and test computer hardware and supervise its manufacture and installation. Hardware refers to computer chips, circuit boards, computer systems, and related equipment such as keyboards, modems, and printers. The work of computer hardware engineers is very similar to that of electronics engineers but unlike electronics engineers, computer hardware engineers work with computers and computer-related equipment exclusively. In addition to design and development, computer hardware engineers may supervise the manufacturing and installation of computers and computer-related equipment. The rapid advances in computer technology are largely a result of the research, development, and design efforts of computer hardware engineers. To keep up with technology change, these engineers must continually update their knowledge.

18 18 WEB DEVELOPMENT The growth of the Internet and expansion of the World Wide Web, the graphical portion of the Internet, have generated a variety of occupations related to design, development, and maintenance of Web sites and their servers. For example, webmasters are responsible for all technical aspects of a website, including performance issues such as speed of access and for approving site content. Internet developers or web developers, also called web designers, are responsible for day-to-day site design and creation. Developers need skill to understand the characteristics and qualities of the Web as a medium for communication so that they don't merely duplicate practices intended for print or other media. Web developers need a broader, more process-oriented approach in order to properly present the information content they wish to convey. The developing of information for the Web requires skills in planning, analysis, and design in addition to Web technical skills. In designing a web presence, the Web developer needs to take into account the website s purpose and audience. A good designer knows how to achieve the effects called for in the most flexible and efficient way. A web developer would need skills in hypertext, multimedia, Java and other programming languages as well as knowledge about how particular web structures affect an audience.

19 19 SALES AND MARKETING The IT industry sector offers high paying sales and marketing positions within organisations that manufacture and sell product and/or services related to IT. As with any type of product or service a successful business will have a sales and marketing team knowledgeable on every aspect, feature and benefit of the product or service which they are promoting. Most companies will train their sales force on the necessary details of their product or service. However, these companies will look for persons that have a strong knowledge of IT and in some cases strong backgrounds and experience in certain areas such as systems, software engineering or hardware engineering. Like most other industries, it has different distribution layers each offering career opportunities. A sales and marketing team for a large hardware manufacturer will likely be selling to a collection of dealers or distributors who sell to the consumer. Many manufacturers will have a dedicated team dealing directly with large companies and government contracts. Working within a distribution or dealership type company the sales team would likely be selling to the small to medium size business market as well as to the consumer. In all cases the person will need to have a sound knowledge of the IT industry, and specific knowledge on products and services they are selling. In addition to technical knowledge they would need to have strong communication skills both written and verbal.

20 20 SECTION SUMMARY We have merely touched on the many career paths a person can take within the information technology industry. Within the industry itself there are numerous speciality paths a person can take. It is fair to say though, the IT industry as a whole offers exciting social, financial and creative benefits for those wishing to enter into this field.

21 21? Self Assessment DID YOU LEARN? THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS ARE YES AND NO QUESTIONS. IF YOU CANNOT ANSWER YES TO EACH QUESTION IT IS SUGGESTED YOU REVIEW THE MATERIAL AGAIN. SECTION THREE SYSTEMS ANALYST Can you recall the skills a systems analyst should possess, and some challenges they might face? THE DATABASE ADMINISTRATOR Do you remember the role and responsibilities of a database administrator? THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS MANAGER (NETWORK) Are you able to describe some of the critical roles a telecommunications manager has in the IT industry? THE WEBMASTER Can you explain what roles a webmaster must be proficient at? THE CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER/TECHNICAL OFFICER Do you know the requirements a chief information officer is expected to fill? THE CHIEF KNOWLEDGE OFFICER Are you able to understand the job description of a Chief Knowledge Officer? THE INDEPENDENT CONSULTANT Can you remember why companies may require the skills of an Independent Consultant?

22 22? Self Assessment PROGRAMMER DID YOU LEARN? Do THE you FOLLOWING recall the different QUESTIONS types of ARE programmers, YES AND NO and QUESTIONS. the general functions they perform? COMPUTER SCIENTIST IF YOU CANNOT ANSWER YES TO EACH QUESTION IT IS SUGGESTED YOU REVIEW THE MATERIAL AGAIN. Are you able to describe the complex areas a computer scientist would work in? SOFTWARE ENGINEERS Can you explain various responsibilities a Software Engineer needs to accomplish? HARDWARE ENGINEERS Do you know how computer hardware engineers aid the advancement in Computer Technology? WEB DEVELOPMENT Are you able to understand the requirements a Web Developer would need to have? SALES AND MARKETING Can you recall the skills a person in sales and marketing of IT would require?

23 23 NOTES