With ICT off the curriculum, you may think the question "Why study ICT?" is redundant. But with university and college courses available in this and a range of related subjects, it's worth thinking about.
And if you already have a GCSE or A-level in ICT, you'll be pleased to know that it can still stand you in good stead for a range of career paths.
How Can ICT Help My Career?
From smartphones and wifi, to hashtags and instant messaging: over the last 20 years, technology has dramatically changed the way in which we live and communicate. Does your interest in technology extend beyond the hardware? Are you curious about how digital information is spread? Maybe you just want to know more about computers and how, when and why people use them? If so, ICT could be the course for you.
What is ICT?
Information communications technology (ICT) refers to the study of any technology that uses telecommunication to store, transmit or access digital information. It focuses on the way that modern technology affects our society and how we communicate.
Ok, so it might sound a little complicated, but if you enjoy browsing the internet, happen to own a smartphone or often spend time watching digital television, you’ve already got a pretty good handle on the types of technology ICT covers. Furthermore, if you’ve ever talked to someone on Skype or WhatsApp, or sent an email or text rather than a letter, then you’ve probably also got some idea of how modern technology has changed the way we interact with each other - especially if you remember the days when a text message seemed high tech!
Hold on a sec... IT, computer science and ICT are the same thing, aren't they?
Nope. The most important thing to remember here is that ICT isn’t all about computers. Whilst IT focuses on hardware and the way computers process data, and computer science focuses on theory and programming, ICT takes a broader approach and focuses on the way in which digital information is communicated. Sure, computers still play a big part, but ICT also looks at how devices like telephones or audio/visual networks can be used alongside computers. It’s basically a combination of IT and telecommunications.
Confusion happens because all three subjects overlap and share similarities (think chemistry and physics), but it’s best to remember that ICT is actually more about how we use technology - including computers and programs - whilst IT and computer science are often about theory and how computers and programs work.
Better yet, try to think about the three subjects in terms of cars. In this scenario, ICT would be the equivalent of driving a car, whilst IT and Computer Science would be more comparable to designing and building a car. Get it?
What skills will I get if I study IT?
With any computer or technology based course, you’re obviously going to develop some pretty solid practical skills - in this case, programming, database security and networks. Plus, ICT is great at helping you build project management and numeracy skills, and it will also encourage you to think logically in order to solve problems. Best of all, these are all things that potential employers love. Sounds good, right?
What careers is ICT good for?
A university or college course in IT will give you good IT knowledge, ace analytical skills, and excellent problem-solving skills. This means that when it comes to potential careers, the world is pretty much your oyster.
IT career options include:
- Web designer
- Systems analyst
- Computer games developer
- User experience developer
ICT graduates could also look for employment in the media (broadcast engineer, multimedia broadcaster, sound technician) military (armed forces technical officer, intelligence officer, satellite technician) or finance (credit analyst, commodity broker, financial risk analyst). How’s that for choice?
What subjects do IT and ICT go with?
If you’re looking for GCSE or A-level options, business studies can be a useful option because ICT is important to virtually all modern businesses. Sociology and psychology can also be interesting combinations - especially given the way that communication has changed, and the amount of time we spend on our smartphones and computers.
However, if you’re looking for more "traditional" options, you can’t go too far wrong with subjects like maths, economics or any one of the sciences - all of which tend to complement the practical skills that come with with ICT.
What degrees and other qualifications do I need ICT for?
If you’re already planning to study ICT at university, it might be helpful to know that although you don’t have to have studied ICT at GCSE or A-level, it’s probably a good idea. Most universities will also expect you to have a minimum grade of C in GCSE maths (and possibly science). ICT not your cup of tea as a degree subject? Not to worry.
According to the Russell Group, an ICT A-level can help you get accepted to study computer science, engineering, electrical engineering, business studies and surveying. You can also study for a BTEC in IT and there are BTEC apprenticeships available in software, web & telecoms and creative digital media.
For more information on what subjects to study at secondary school, check out the Study section of our website.