I feel wired...
You’re probably reading this on a smartphone or tablet right now, at the same time as checking your social media feeds (don’t forget to follow @CareerMapNews). But what if you want to design those social media apps, build the hardware or maintain the networks? Read on…
About the ICT industry
This is an industry that’s changing by the minute, as more and more aspects of our lives get connected. You can control your central heating from your phone now, and it surely won’t be long before we can all summon driverless cars to come and get us with a single swipe. It requires a lot of skilled people to make this kind of thing happen, and they’re not all in Silicon Valley: there are opportunities in businesses, global organisations, tech startups…you name it.
What can I do?
Careers in ICT can go in many different directions. If you choose the telecoms sector, for example, you could be working with the broadband, mobile phone and satellite communications networks that form the foundation of the information age. That might mean anything from helping customers get their home broadband connection to running diagnostics on an orbital satellite.
Alternatively, you could be designing new software or apps, or perhaps creating websites for individuals and businesses. You might work for a search engine or social media company, or you might start your own: all it takes is one good idea, after all.
As the world changes and technology gets more advanced, we’re relying on it more and more. That means it’s important to keep that technology safe, so you might pursue a career in cybersecurity, helping to block viruses, protect data from hackers or advise companies on how to keep their systems secure.
We’re also using and storing more and more data. Things like cloud computing services and roles looking for patterns in the tides of data on the internet are only just getting started. The future could be very exciting, and you might be the one inventing it.
Being good at maths, physics or computer coding are all useful skills in this industry, but there are many other attributes that employers value. Creative thinking and problem solving, for example, or working well with other people; or perhaps a real passion for innovation and keeping up to date with the latest thinking in your field.
Training in this area is all about taking your raw talent and the things that interest you – whether it’s games, apps, mobile technology or anything else – and helping you put them to good use. You’re at a huge advantage because you’ve grown up with the internet and computers, unlike many of the people at the top of big companies. So get qualified, and show them what you can do.
Nobody really knows what all the jobs available in this sector will be in a few years’ time because it’s always evolving. But here are some examples:
IT and Telecoms
Support technician, helpdesk professional, line installer, software developer, network planner, web designer
IT clerk, data administrator, web technician, digital assistant
Network engineer, security engineer, security officer, governance officer
In addition, there are higher level and management roles, and even careers in the security services (MI5 and MI6) – although details about specific roles are kept secret, unsurprisingly. You’ll need to apply to the service to find out more (try not to do a Kingsman impression).
There are plenty of different ways to get the skills you need for the ICT industry. Time to plug in…
Work-based & work-related qualifications
Relevant NVQ and BTEC programmes include:
- Information Technology
- Interactive Media
- Creative Digital Media Production
Don’t forget: BTECs etc. can also pave the way for a degree.
There are relevant Apprenticeships at three levels:
- Level Two (Intermediate) – equivalent to GCSEs/Standard Grades
- Level Three (Advanced) – equivalent to A Levels/Highers
- Level Four / Five (Higher) – equivalent to Foundation Degree/Advanced Highers
- Creative and Digital Media
- IT Application Specialist
- Cyber Intrusion Analyst
- IT Software Web & Telecoms Professional
If you’re interested in degree level training, there are Degree Apprenticeships such as:
- Digital and Technology Solutions
- Cyber Security
- User Experience
New ones are being created almost as fast as we can type them up, so keep an eye out for more on sites like The Tech Partnership.
A Levels and Bachelors Degrees
Useful A Levels might include:
- Computer Science
- Music Technology
- Design and Technology
Already know that a degree is the way you want to break into the sector? Head to UCAS and find out what A Levels (or Scottish Highers/IB modules) you’ll need for the course that interests you.
Industry-specific degree programmes in this area include Bachelors programmes in Computer Science, ICT, Information Systems and Web Design & Development; you could also consider related programmes like Business Computing.
Life in the ICT industry
To give you an idea of how vital ICT is to almost every business operating in the UK, employers including O2, BT, Google, Royal Mail, Asda, the BBC and Network Rail all support training programmes like Apprenticeships, or work closely with unis, to train up the next generation. There are lots of opportunities out there – these are just the tip of the tech iceberg.
So, ready to move fast? You’d better be, because this is a rapidly changing industry. You’ll need to be prepared to work hard to keep up, but the good news is that you could be at the cutting edge of the tech industry – pretty soon, people might be working hard to keep up with you.
Everyone – individuals, companies, even pets with microchips – uses technology differently, which means that the same job role can vary hugely between employers. You might well be working in an office and using computers, tablets and so on all day; or you might be out in the field installing software or helping a business put in a new network.
Yes, there’s likely to be a fair bit of time working in front of a screen, or a tablet. Give it a few years though, and who knows? It might all be holograms, VR headsets and chatting with your colleagues in the US using your Google glasses. You might be based in one of those swanky Silicon Valley offices where they have ball pools and stuff; or building an empire from the local coffee shop with just your laptop. The code to the future is already in your head; you just have to tease it out.
You could work for:
- Telecoms companies
- IT support centres
- Media companies
- Software development firms
- Your own internet firm
Find Apprenticeships and jobs in the ICT industry near you at Careermap.
Visit The Tech Partnership to find out more about training options (including Apprenticeships and Degrees) and what it’s like to work in the industry.
1. The average tech salary in the UK is £50,663, according to the Tech Nation 2017 report
2. Reading (not London) has the highest proportion of digital tech businesses, followed by Bristol, Bath and Cambridge
3. The number of digital tech jobs is currently growing at more than twice the rate of non-digital tech sectors – 85,000 new jobs came online in 2015 alone