The IT industry is vast, with hundreds of career opportunities and plenty of room for personal growth and achievement. It also happens to be in high demand for the foreseeable future. Many organizations, businesses, and even smaller teams need IT professionals with experience across a variety of languages, devices, platforms, and software.
But because it’s so massive, and because there are so many choices, that makes it a difficult career path to choose. Boiling your options down to a single opportunity is difficult, especially when the list of choices is seemingly endless. Information technology — or the general industry — is much too broad to focus on. What do you want to do specifically?
Would you like to be a software developer? Are you more interested in modern cybersecurity or network operations? Would you prefer to be a support analyst or consultant for any number of IT firms? Then, there’s the matter of skills. What would your IT and tech talents be best suited for?
Of course, these are a mere handful of the opportunities available. So, let’s keep things simple by looking at some jobs college grads and newbies can dive right into.
What Are the Best IT Jobs for Recent Graduates?
Before we dive in, it’s important to point out that in any career path — even in the IT industry — you must put in the time before you begin getting the most rewarding opportunities. That’s not to say you will not see a reasonable salary, nor that’s it’s impossible to find enjoyable or fulfilling opportunities when you’re just starting out. There’s always the chance you’ll land something exceptional, above and beyond anything else, but that’s more luck than anything.
Just know that to succeed, even in IT, you’ll need to be laser-focused on your work and personal growth. Provided you have that covered, here are some of the best career opportunities for you right after graduation.
1. Software Development
Typically, software developers build applications, programs and websites using a variety of established processes. Other names for the career path include software architect, software engineer, web developer, mobile, and apps developer, systems developer, and test automation developer.
Your primary responsibility will be to write and test code using development tools, the most common of which is an integrated development environment. Often, teams and companies decide upon a single or select few programming languages, as well as development tools. You may need to relearn or work with new systems, so you’ll need to be flexible for sure.
The work may also require collaboration, interactions with clients and colleagues and a proper grasp of time management and self-discipline.
It is possible to become a developer with no official credentials or minor certifications, but you’ll have more opportunities if you enter the field with a computing or software engineering degree. Some employers are willing to train potential hires who demonstrate the appropriate interest and technical aptitude.
2. Systems Analyst
Executives and operations managers generally don’t have a background in IT, nor are they well-versed in modern technologies and IT systems. Therefore, it makes sense to rely on knowledgeable professionals who can guide the appropriate teams in the right direction. That’s where a systems analyst — also called a systems developer or systems engineer — comes into play.
Your responsibility in this field is to monitor and assess existing systems and develop strategies and requirements for implementing new ones. For example, you might look at the greater hardware and software in use at a firm and come up with more effective ways of using it.
Analysts may also help train users and teams and monitor them over time for effectiveness, helping optimize the entire system.
Since many organizations are spread across state lines or even countries, systems analysts typically must travel to different locations. If you’re in an enterprise setting, your work may include clients and remote teams.
To be a systems analyst, you will need a degree in either a technical or IT subject. Computer science is a safe bet, yet there are some degrees specific to the analyst field. It also helps to have robust knowledge and experience working with computers, remote and enterprise-based technologies and networking.
3. IT Support Analyst
When it comes to technology of any kind, troubleshooting is a major component of dealing with hiccups, hardware and software failures or even basic human error. IT support analysts exist as a means to facilitate this process, and provide support via a variety of channels.
This career path is also sometimes called a helpdesk analyst, support analyst or technical support adviser. You’ll need a good amount of tech and computer knowledge, as well as the ability to communicate freely. A good deal of problem-solving and a healthy dose of patience are also necessary.
There are both consumer-facing and enterprise-level IT support opportunities, which means it’s up to you whether you work with individual consumers, or in a more professional and corporate setting.
Whatever the case, you’ll need to provide support over the phone, via email and social media, through IM and direct chats or sometimes in person. It just depends on the support structure your employer offers and the kind of systems and software you’re working with.
Graduates of almost any computer-related discipline can get into IT support. In fact, it’s one of the few fields in IT you can enter with a certification or experience-based resume. That said, employers in the space tend to prefer those with an IT-related degree over certifications.
4. Network Engineer
A network engineer — also called a hardware engineer or network designer — has a direct and hands-on role with modern systems and networking hardware or software. It also happens to be one of the most technically demanding and heavily involved career opportunities in the entire IT industry. That explains why salaries tend to be higher and more aggressive, upwards of $50,000 right out of the gate.
This career path alone offers a variety of options, from network security to monitoring, installation and maintenance. Ultimately, your role will be to administer, maintain and upgrade various network-based hardware and systems. You’ll need to have experience with communication systems, local area networks, wide area networks, wireless and wired technologies and networking equipment such as routers, modems and bridges.
Network engineers also get involved with security assistance, data storage and cloud computing, disaster recovery and hardware scaling.
Because of the highly technical nature of this career path, it’s best to have a computer science or telecoms degree, along with a handful of technical certifications. Many employers will sponsor your training and certification, but not all do, so keep that in mind.
5. Web Designer
Web designers primarily work on forward-facing websites or online applications. You may also hear people call this role multimedia programmer, UX designer, video game designer or app developer.
The beauty of web development is that the work doesn’t confine you to a single role. Websites and web applications encompass everything from education to shopping, gaming or entertainment.
Web developers in a traditional sense technically fill a separate role, but there is a considerable amount of crossover. Like a software engineer or software developer, they are more often involved with backend development of various support structures. For example, by using a popular content management system such as WordPress, anyone can build, customize and launch a website. However, it takes a web developer to dive into the coding and innards of the platform. Web developers, as opposed to designers, often develop plugins and add-ons.
You don’t need a degree or official credential to become a web designer, though it does help if you have a technical degree or a degree in digital media design. A well-established display of your talents — usually via an online portfolio — is essential, though.