Careers in Information Technology (IT)
Information technology has entered and benefited all sectors of industry. IT professionals design, support, and maintain computer hardware and software for various industrial and individual applications and are much sought after for their expertise and experience.
The National Association of Software and Service Companies has predicted a 12 percent increase in Indian software exports in 2015-16 to $112 billion. Probably, the only, or at least the biggest, hurdle in the country achieving this growth rate is the shortage of skilled and competent IT professionals.
What better indication of the excellent prospects for IT professionals can there be?
Top educational qualifications for IT jobs
Hiring managers of companies in India look for a bachelor’s degree either in information technology or in computer science, which are the two basic qualifications for an IT job.
These degrees (BE or B.Tech.) differ slightly in their features: while the degree course in IT focuses on the communication and business areas of computing, the computer science course may involve more of the scientific aspects of computing.
Other bachelor’s degrees that are widely accepted by hiring companies include Bachelor in Computer Applications (BCA) and Bachelor of Science (BS) in Computer Engineering.
You can also pursue Master’s degrees, such as M.Tech., MCA, and M.Sc. in Computers, and Master’s in Systems Management. Certification, diploma, and PG diploma programmes from reputed institutions are also available.
Those interested in an IT career need to particularly focus on mathematics, physics, and chemistry after their class 10. After class 12, they would require to take national-level or state-level entrance exams for admission to IT courses in colleges or universities.
How they perform in these tests decides their course and college, and perhaps their career prospects, to a large extent.
There are hundreds of engineering colleges offering IT courses in India, and obviously, a degree from a reputed college carries more weight. The Indian Institutes of Technology, the National Institutes of Technology, and the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, are the most sought after institutions.
There are many other reputed government and private colleges with accreditation from the All India Council for Technical Education, the National Assessment and Accreditation Council, and the University Grants Commission.
Besides these degree colleges, there are institutions offering certification and diploma courses, including the National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology (NIELIT), which is under the central government.
Along with a formal degree or diploma, you will need such individual attributes as a willingness to learn, an ability to work hard, an analytical mind, good and communication skills.
A solid foundation in maths right from your high school is essential if you want to do well in college and secure a good entry-level position in a well-known company.
After graduation, the question of whether to go in for an advanced degree abroad would occupy the minds of most bright students, howsoever briefly.
Some industry insiders are of the view that job experience in a particular specialisation rather than a foreign degree might be handy if an IT graduate wants to build a career in India.
However, they add that for teaching positions, either in India or abroad, acquiring an MS or a similar degree from a good foreign university might be a good idea.
Career paths in Information Technology jobs
Career paths in the IT industry can be broadly classified into the two main fields of hardware and software. Under hardware, you have manufacturing, maintenance, research and development, and management.
Under software, you have manufacturing, development, programming, software testing, and maintenance and support. Among related areas are computer operations, database administration, sales/marketing, and data-centre management.
Popular job designations include computer hardware engineer, software engineer, information systems manager, programmer, network systems and data analyst, systems analyst, database administrator, systems administrator, support specialist, computer and information scientist, school/college computer teacher, and college or university professor.
Companies also advertise positions in the areas of networking, web designing, search engine optimisation, computer programming, gaming, system/database administration, software testing, security, desktop support, technical writing, e-commerce, and software training.
Freshers are naturally concerned about the outlook for their industry and their career prospects. Information technology workers have been able to do relatively well even during times of recession, though, indeed, job and salary cuts have been widely reported.
However, as mentioned before, most companies use information technology widely and IT professionals continue to be in great demand, especially those with good skills, talent, and aptitude.
Typically, if you are a fresher straight from a university, you will undergo training for a certain period and then be designated as a software developer or programmer, for example.
Depending on your work and the skills you develop, you can become a project leader in about three years. If you are selected to work onsite at a customer’s organisation abroad, you may be considered for a manager’s role directly, and promoted, without your having been a project lead.
Many IT professionals working in Indian companies get a chance to work at customers’ work sites abroad, and this gives them exposure to international working conditions and work culture.
These days, as you progress in your career as a junior IT professional, you can hope to be given the choice of continuing in the technology stream or shifting to the management stream, depending on your outlook and personal interests.
The individuals who want to continue to be a core part of technology development are identified as “individual contributors” and allowed to continue in that stream without being pressured to shift to the management stream for promotion to senior positions.
Information Technology Salaries
The average salaries in the IT industry depend on your job profile, your place of posting, and your knowledge, experience, and skills.
A junior software engineer (as a fresher) can expect to earn between Rs. 1.2 lakh and Rs. 3.6 lakh annually, an associate software engineer about Rs. 2 lakh to Rs. 7.5 lakh, a senior software engineer Rs. 4 lakh to Rs. 12 lakh, and a lead software engineer Rs. 5.5 lakh to Rs. 16 lakh.
A project manager in software development can hope to earn between Rs. 7 lakh and Rs. 20 lakh, a product manager (software) between Rs. 6.25 lakh and Rs. 26 lakh, and a software development manager between Rs. 10 lakh and Rs. 34 lakh.
The annual salaries for some of these positions in the US are as follows: junior software engineer – $35,000 to $72,000; associate software engineer – $46,000 to $92,000; and senior/lead software engineer – $77,000 to $145,000.
With the introduction of new technologies such as cloud computing, and the requirement of talented personnel growing, the salaries are likely to continue their upward trend.
Details of salaries according to job title and experience and other interesting data and useful information about IT jobs are available at www.payscale.com.
Read about the following IT Jobs
- Applications programmer
- Project manager (IT)
- Database administrator
- IT business analyst
- Software quality assurance & testing
- Information security officer
- Software trainer
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