What is IT and the internet?
Whether it's how we buy things to how we communicate with friends, so much of our lives now take place online. But who builds the software and apps we take for granted every day - and what happens if our devices stop working?
The world of computing, often known as IT (Information Technology) and the Internet, is one of the fastest growing industries around. It is filled with quick-thinking programmers, engineers and designers tirelessly working to build new software, sites and programmes to help you work, learn and play in new and exciting ways.
What IT and internet jobs can I do?
There are lots of roles to explore in this field. Some jobs could even involve learning a new language…
Programming and development
Computer and software programmers, developers and engineers work with different computer languages (ie codes) to build software for people to use, from word processing to complex computer security. Check out our list of free online coding courses.
Web developers: Web designers and developers also use codes to put together websites. They spend a lot of time designing the right look for the site, often with the help of a graphic designer, as well as making sure it does all the things you want it to do. Check out our art and design career zone for more information.
Games developers use code to build apps and games but they also work with artists, writers and animators to create stories and characters.
Electrical engineers create the kit (hardware) that software runs on. This means building circuits to create new devices which perform a specific function, as well as creating new computers, smartphones and printers.
IT support staff soup up your computer with new technologies or try and fix problems in your PC's operating system, troubleshooting issues and creating better ways of using technology for work.
Network engineers link up groups of computers so people who work together can communicate better. Your school will have its own computer network.
IT consultants and analysts support organisations to make sure they have the right hardware and software to do their work. You could work with people who are new to technology and need lots of help getting started. Almost every business employs IT support, as most of us don’t have the know-how to fix our computers when they stop working or if we click on a dodgy link and unleash a virus.
Database programmers and administrators will build programmes to store all the info your business generates and keep it safe.
You could become the envy of all your friends as a professional games tester and get paid to try out new games, assess their difficulty and spot faults.
This is about promoting stuff via the internet, whether that's through social media, making content easy to find on search engines, or paying to advertise online.
It's a bit different from offline marketing because you need to have particular insight into online technologies – even if you're not the one doing the technical wizardry. This means understanding what makes websites work well and how people behave on the internet.
Roles include social media management, web content management, search engine optimisation consultant, user experience analyst, and pay-per-click account manager.
Read our complete guide to digital marketing jobs.
Is a career in IT and the internet for me?
If you're curious about the technology behind the devices and apps you use every day, or have already had a go at building an app or a website yourself, this could be the career for you.
You’ll need to be able to work with real care and attention to detail, particularly when using code.
You’ll also need lots of patience if you have a role that directly supports clients.
Creativity and a desire to discover new ways of doing things are important too.
How can I start an IT and internet career?
You don’t always need a degree to work in many of these areas, but experience is important.
To work in programming you’ll need to be fluent and confident using the latest computer scripts and codes like HTML5, Java and Unified Modelling Language.
You don't necessarily need advanced coding skills to work in a non-technical area such as digital marketing.
The great news is you can build experience right at home by putting together a blog, designing an app and experimenting with ways of increasing your social media following.
- GCSE: IT, Applied ICT and maths are your core subjects at GCSE, which means you have to take them, and you should aim for a 4 or higher. You should aim for 4+ in English as well.
- A-level: You should also study maths, ICT or computing at A-level or a BTEC/NVQ in IT Users.
- University: Useful degree subjects include web development, web content management or computer programming.
- Apprenticeships: IT apprenticeships are a good way to go straight from school into an IT career, and if you're more interested in using the internet to sell stuff, a digital marketing apprenticeship could be ideal.
- Vocational: On-the-job training is normally available for graduate trainees or IT apprentices and digital apprenticeship schemes for school and college leavers.
Boost your programming knowledge and explore your interests by taking a free online course or joining a hackathon. There are plenty to choose from, from web design to app building and animation.
Check out our jobs board to see what jobs are available now in IT and the internet.
What IT and internet qualifications are available?
You can boost your skills with professional development courses from organisations like the Association of Computer Professionals (ACP) or the British Computer Society, where you can become a Chartered IT Professional.
Did you know these IT and internet facts?
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg became the youngest billionaire in the world at the age of 23. And he didn’t even finish his college degree!
In 2011, Apple became the most valuable company in the world.