Information Technology is a broad term describing a computing sector that includes installing and maintaining computer systems and designing and operating databases and networks.
There is the potential for employment almost anywhere that computers are used for commercial purposes. IT professionals may be employed by a particular company or business, may be self-employed or may operate in a consulting position. Some examples of IT positions can include Database administration, Programmer/analyst, Network specialist, Information systems operator/analyst, Software engineer and Technical support.
Many Canadian colleges and institutes of technology offer two-year diploma programs which provide an ideal base for a career in Information Technology. And because this is such a wide-ranging and all-encompassing profession, the ability to find a position in one’s other fields of interest, aside from IT, is an added bonus.
Colleges and institutes, with their unique connections to industry, provide real-world practical experience in addition to education. Co-op or practicum placements allow students to truly practice their trade and make connections in their field of interest.
Steve Chattargoon is the Chair – Digital Media & IT at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT). He is a graduate of the NAIT Computer Systems Technology program and after graduating, ran his own IT business focusing on enterprise computer systems development and network management. He explains, “In today’s society, it would be safe to say that Information Technology (IT) is ubiquitous and plays a critical role in the way we are entertained, how we access information in our work life, how we access information regarding our banking and health records, and the way we connect with each other. Examples of everyday use of IT include accessing our banking information, online boxing day shopping, Skyping with a loved one, the Fitbit or Apple watch you wear, booking a trip or even checking in for your flights. The list is limitless.”
Chattargoon says that a career in IT is suitable for people with a passion for technology, who are problem solvers and multitaskers with good communication skills and a love of learning, “IT professionals are also creative in how they see the world and how IT could be utilized to tackle real-world problems.”
Between Chattargoon’s experience as a business owner and his knowledge of the industry as an educator, his prediction for the future of Information Technology is sure to be on point.
“There is a need for more individuals to enter a career in IT. First, the field of IT is vast with many different areas that an individual could work in, and there are not enough students entering IT programs. Second, the way that we are consuming IT is increasing with more and more organizations creating new systems to serve the needs of their tech-dependent customers. Lastly, there is a bubble due to retirement that needs to be addressed by producing more graduates in IT,” Chattargoon says.
While the pressures of tight deadlines and long hours are common stressors for IT professionals, a decent starting salary of approximately $48,000 per year as well as the ability to see practical applications arise from one’s own keystrokes can be incredibly rewarding. In many cases, IT professionals are able to operate remotely, allowing them to work from virtually anywhere in the world.
“IT is a fun and exciting career. You are consistently immersed in creating the future, and there is no industry that I can think of that doesn’t require the need for an IT professional. In a nutshell, I can work anywhere and on anything, “enthuses Chattargoon. “If we think about the future and IT, tech dependency comes to mind. We are now dependant on our technology to give us information when we want it and how we want it and with that companies are looking to IT professionals to develop new ways of engaging their customers. Overall it is a very exciting time as this new future is rapidly being created in real time.” With a front row seat on the cutting edge of the future, a career in IT is perfect for those with a sense of adventure in addition to a love of technology.
By Jackie Fritz