Ten Typical IT Jobs for Graduates

Are software engineers and application programmers the same? We have ten IT job titles described and defined for your ease!
Nurhuda Syed
Editor, gradsingapore
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While the thrilling growth of the IT industry has resulted in the creation of many new and exciting roles, the wide range of job titles can get quite baffling, hinting little at the job scopes. The fact that most jobs do not have a standardised title makes things equally confusing for job-seekers.

Here’s a list of some of the more common job titles that you’re bound to encounter during your job search – described and defined. Aside from the job description, do check out the key skills crucial for each job. They may be able to tell you if you’re a good fit for the job and if you’ll enjoy the typical day-to-day duties.

#1: Software engineer

Also: Application programmer, software architect, software developer, systems developer

Briefly: As a software engineer, a big part of your responsibilities lie in designing, programming, and testing system-level software – such as the operating systems, database systems, and embedded systems – to meet a particular need.

Although you’ll be working primarily with software systems, knowledge about how hardware functions and its software compatibility is also essential.

You will need to be meticulous in your work as the job is typically highly complex and technical in nature. You will also be expected to work closely with clients and colleagues (e.g. system analysts) as you assess systems and propose solutions.

Most software engineers are hired by electronics and telecommunications companies, and will require a background in computing, software engineering, or related qualifications.

Key skills:

  • Teamwork
  • Analytical skills
  • Logical thinking
  • Attention to detail

#2: Systems analyst

Also: Systems developer, systems engineer, solutions specialist

Briefly: Systems analysts help clients solve problems with their businesses by designing new IT solutions or modifying and enhancing existing systems with new features/improvements.

They start by assessing the client’s needs and their existing IT infrastructure. They then provide a proposal consisting of details such as suggested system requirements, operation systems, and user interface upgrades.

This often includes an analysis of the cost and time needed to implement the project.

A successful systems analyst should have a good mix of commercial and technical knowledge to propose feasible and relevant IT solutions to a client. Your work might involve interacting with clients throughout the development process, so good communication and interpersonal skills are vital.

Key skills:

  • Good communication and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to extract and analyse information
  • Persuasive
  • Commercial awareness

#3: Business analyst

Also: Business architect, information specialist

Briefly: A business analyst’s role is typically less technical than a systems analyst. Core duties include identifying potential improvements that can be introduced to processes and business operations using IT, and work tends to be more client-facing.

Business analysts are generally responsible for assessing a customer’s needs, gathering and documenting the necessary requirements, and then creating a project plan to design the resulting technology solution.

Business analysts would thus need technology understanding, but not necessarily a technical degree.

Key skills:

  • Communication and facilitation skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Project management
  • Problem-solving skills

#4: Technical support

Also: Helpdesk support, applications support specialist, maintenance engineer

Briefly: Technical support officers specialise in maintaining the overall IT infrastructure of an organisation, troubleshooting tech issues as and when they crop up. Depending on your role, you will either assist your clients (or colleagues) on-site or through the phone. In some companies, you may also be asked to take charge of more than one area of expertise.

Some recruiters, especially those in high-tech or specialised sectors, may look for specific experience and knowledge, but most will require you to have a good grasp of basic IT skills.

Key skills:

  • Technical knowledge
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Good communication skills and diplomacy
  • Teamwork
  • Patience

#5: Network engineer

Also: Hardware engineer, network designer, network support

Briefly: Network engineering encompasses a broad range of responsibilities involving the setting up, administering, maintaining, and upgrading of a variety of systems and network infrastructure for their users. Some network engineers may also be involved in areas like security, data storage, and disaster recovery strategies.

Work can get technically demanding, so you will need a good grasp of technical knowledge. Employers typically hire graduates with telecommunications or computer science-related degrees. You will acquire several specialist technical certifications as you progress in your role.

Key skills:

  • Specialist network knowledge
  • Good communication skills
  • Planning and analysis skills
  • Problem-solving skills

#6: Technical consultant

Also: IT consultant, information specialist

Briefly: Technical consultants use their technical knowledge to advise customers on how they can leverage on IT to improve their businesses or overcome obstacles.

Their level of involvement in the IT implementation/upgrading project is dependent on the client’s preferences. Some stages of involvement include assessing the existing IT infrastructure; procuring a contract; designing, developing and implementing IT systems; as well as after-sales support.

Recruiters typically prefer graduates with a technical degree, though not always necessary.

Key skills:

  • Good communication and presentation skills
  • Technical knowledge
  • Commercial awareness
  • Project management
  • Good time management and organisational skills

#7: Technical sales

Also: Sales manager, account manager, sales executive

Briefly: Technical sales is possibly one of the least technical roles in the industry. Complementing their sales skills with IT knowledge, technical sales personnel need to be able to translate the value of their IT products (e.g. hardware, systems, IT services) into commercial worth to convince their clients to make the purchase.

Work will mostly involve making phone calls, meetings, conferences, and proposal drafting; and like all salespeople, there will also be targets to meet. Clients will expect pre- and after-sales services as well, and it’ll be up to you to coordinate with your colleagues from the technical department to provide training or follow-up services.

While a technology degree isn’t essential for this line of work, you will need to have good technical understanding of your products.

Key skills:

  • Good interpersonal and communication skills
  • Good persuasion skills
  • Product knowledge and commercial awareness
  • Drive
  • Problem-solving and analytical skills

#8: Project manager

Also: Product planner, project leader, master scheduler

Briefly: Project managers organise and make use of available resources (e.g. people, time, finances) to ensure that IT projects achieve its goals within the allocated timeframe and budget. Depending on your involvement in a project, you may be in charge of an entire project from start to finish, or manage part of a larger plan.

The role of a project manager isn’t usually assigned to fresh graduates as it requires the experience and knowledge of an industry veteran. A project manager will also need to have the charisma and soft skills to keep his or her team together, usually developed only after spending some time within the sector.

Key skills:

  • Good organisation and time management skills
  • Good communication and interpersonal skills
  • Good decision-making skills
  • Problem-solving abilities
  • Able to work well under pressure

#9: Web developer

Also: Web designer, UX designer, multimedia programmer

Briefly: Web developers cover a wide range of duties related to the building and maintaining of an organisation’s website. This includes creating the website design and layout. Work can get quite technical as it involves a lot of programming on the back-end, but a good sense of creativity is essential when designing the user interface of the website.

This role requires specialist knowledge and a strong foundation in several coding languages.

Key skills:

  • Communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Creativity
  • Attention to detail

#10: Software tester

Also: Software quality assurance analyst

Briefly: Software testers run automated and manual tests on a programs and software to ensure it is reliable and fully functional. Testers will then have to feedback the project leader so that fixes can be made.

Some testers may be asked to be present during the early stages of product development to help programmers anticipate potential pitfalls before actual coding begins.

Key skills:

  • Analytical and investigative thinking
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Creativity
  • Good communication skills