Training and career development: how a technology career may develop
IT now plays an integral part in every business and organisation and there are a number of paths to career development in the industry. Nowadays, you don’t necessarily need to be a computer science graduate to carve out a successful career. Recruiters employ graduates from the entire spectrum of degree disciplines who can demonstrate a serious interest in technology, with many recruiters preferring to hire graduates with previous work experience (not always within the IT sector).
On the other hand, there are also more traditional ways into the field. A computer science graduate might start out as a programmer, software developer, systems analyst or web developer. With a few years’ experience, however, these roles can develop in a number of different directions. Some might find themselves moving into contracting or consultancy (the flexibility of these roles certainly suits some people); others might use their people skills and organisational ability to move into a training role; while still more pursue increasing specialisation and expertise (ideally becoming totally indispensable in the process!).
In general, there’s a rich diversity of career paths open to graduates in the high-tech industry. The technology is ever-changing, which means that so too are the job prospects. Constant on-the-job learning is, of course, crucial, as is a wider general awareness of the field (ideally this desire to learn will be motivated by a genuine interest in the job). By keeping abreast of, and becoming expert in, new technologies, professionals can find their careers developing in ways they never predicted when they first dipped their toe in the IT waters. The variety isn’t just in the nature of the technology. The sheer range of potential workplaces, from huge international corporations to small flexible NGOs, means that skilled professionals have a certain amount of mobility and a good chance of finding an environment where they feel happy and comfortable.
How postgraduate study or professional qualifications can help
Over half of all permits issued in Ireland are for those working in the IT sector. This is because, according to most colleges and employers, not enough Irish students are graduating with computer science and maths degrees, and there are a lower number of PhD students here than many other western economies. This puts highly qualified graduates in a very good position.
Remember IT is one of the easiest fields to convert to. One-year courses are the normal route in, such as the Higher Diploma in Applied Science (Applied Computing Technology) offered by University College Cork, the Higher Diploma in Information Technology at the Maynooth University, or the Graduate Diploma in Information Technology at Dublin City University. Pure conversion courses, such as DCU’s Diploma in Information Technology, are designed specifically to fast-track graduates from other disciplines into an IT career.
For unemployed people in receipt of social welfare payments, many postgraduate courses in ICT are currently offered free of charge as part of the government’s Springboard initiative. Participants also get to keep their social welfare payments. Preference for acceptance to a course is given to the long term unemployed, though all people receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance or Jobseeker’s Benefit are eligible.
Multidisciplinary postgraduate programmes, such as University College Cork’s MSc in Bioinformatics, have also become very popular, reflecting the convergence of formerly distinct fields such as pharmaceuticals and ICT in recent years. Professional bodies, such as BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT in the UK and Northern Ireland, also offer industry-accredited courses such as the Professional Graduate Diploma in IT.
Professional bodies and trade associations
Technology in Ireland (IDA) www.idaireland.com/doing-business-here/industry-sectors/ict
BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT www.bcs.org
Institution of Engineering and Technology www.theiet.org
Technology Ireland www.technology-ireland.ie
Irish Computer Society www.ics.ie
InvestNI (ICT and electronics)
Science Foundation Ireland www.sfi.ie.
Further study and courses
Check out gradireland.com/careers-advice/postgraduate-study for a searchable database of computing and IT courses in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Visit springboardcourses.ie for information about that initiative.