Get Your Dream IT Job: Different Roles in the IT Field

- select the contributor at the end of the page -
So you want a job in the IT field, but not sure how to go about it? Well you found, so you are definitely on the right track, but there are a lot of questions out there and you might not be sure where to go next.

Some might say the golden age of tech is over, but I am a firm believer that if you have talent and you are willing to work hard at it, you can find exactly the right position you want, doing a job you love.

Today, I'm going to go through some basic information that will get you started down the path to your dream position.

What Part Of The IT Field Do You Want To Play In?

The term "IT Field" is very broad and covers quite a few disciplines. Some of these include:

  • Desktop Support
  • System Administrators
  • System Architects
  • Networking Engineers
  • Computer Programmers

The fun thing about all these is that they all require different skill sets, so it is important to decide what area you want to work on early in your career, though that doesn't mean you can't switch later in your career.

Let's take a look at some of these more in-depth.

Desktop Support Technician

The front line of the IT world, the Desktop Support Technician is usually the one that users interact with the most. Using a combination of phone, remote desktop, and desk side support they handle the most basic calls, up to some fairly complex issues.

Desktop technicians sometimes get a bad rap, because some companies hire anyone that can basically turn on a computer and give them a script to follow when people call in. Because of this they are sometimes thought to be clueless, but there are many talented people in these positions that could move to more advanced levels of support, like interacting with users and helping out.

I would venture that a majority of technical IT people got their start in a desktop support role. It is a great position to learn troubleshooting skills and get exposure to a wide variety of software and hardware issues.

Learn more about becoming a Desktop Support Technician.

System Administrators

This is a wide category in itself, and encompasses a lot of different support options. There are system administrators that strictly work at the OS level, supporting the various versions of Windows Server.

Beyond that there are System Administrators that specialize in a certain type of software or even specific software products. For example I know Messaging System Administrators that work on all types of e-mail systems, but I also know of Lotus Notes or Exchange System administrators which specialize in just that application.

The System Administrator will usually be in charge of administrating and maintaining the environment that he works in. Some of the usual functions can be user maintenance which would involve creating and disabling users, changing user passwords, and user security permissions. Beyond that it also involves system maintenance which would vary with tasks such as upgrading and patching systems, checking performance of your application, and generally being very proactive in monitoring your part of the environment because you are ultimately responsible for it.

They are also an escalation point for the Desktop Support role if there are high level user issues that need to be dealt with that are beyond the Desktop Supports ability or permission rights.

Learn more about becoming a System Administrator.

Network Engineers

These guys are the glue that holds all the other positions together. They design, implement, and manage the networks that allow all the servers and clients to communicate.

These networks can be either Local Area Networks (LANs) or Wide Area Networks (WANs) depending on their specialty. Working mostly with routers and switches they do a lot of command line work and usually spills over into some *nix systems. Dealing with the network, will usually mean working off hours to make any changes or upgrades as to not affect the users, so note that Network Engineers will usually work after hours.

The benefit of being a Network Engineer is that if you are good at it, you will always be in demand. 99% of the businesses in the world depend in some form on a network, and from large to small they need someone to work on it. The downside is that getting into this field is a bit more difficult than some of the others at the start because of the cost of the equipment to practice on.

System Architects

The System Architect is charged with designing and implementing the systems that the System Administrators run and in some shops they are one and the same.

When I am talking about System Architects, I am not just talking about a small business setup with 20 users; these positions are at the high end of the spectrum and design systems to handle thousands of users.

Much like an administrator they usually specialize in a certain type of software or application. The System architect is a senior position and is often a consultant that works with a variety of companies implementing custom solutions.

Computer Programmers

Often in a league of their own, with countless programming languages and specialties, programmers are a necessity in our current computerized world.

They create and maintain the software programs that run on today's computers and devices. Often considered problem solvers, they take a problem and take a systematic approach to devise a solution and write the solution in a language that a computer can understand.

Surprisingly, the entry to programming can be pretty easy depending on the language. Usually you start learning an easier language and then build on your proficiency to learn the harder ones. Programmers are also able to do quite a good amount of freelance and consulting work, outside of a normal 9-5 position.

So What Do You Want To Be?

Now that I have given you a brief overview of the main areas of what I consider the "technical" IT positions, my next few articles in this series will give more in-depth information on each of them including learning resources, salary and job expectations, along with general roadmap for starting.

If you would like something specific covered, please feel free to leave a comment.

Get our content first. In your inbox.

Loading form...

If this message remains, it may be due to cookies being disabled or to an ad blocker.


Dave Lawlor

Dave Lawlor has been working in the IT field since leaving the U.S. Army in 1996.  Working his way up from printer hardware repair to running a corporate datacenter for a multinational corporation, Dave has seen many environments throughout the years. Focusing on web sites and search engine optimization the last few years, with the release of Server 2008 it has renewed his passion for the Wintel platform and server technologies. David also runs where he posts free videos and walk-throughs for a variety of server technologies. David currently works as a freelance technical consultant and writer for a variety of companies in the Chicago area. (MCTS, MCP, A+)