Before you enter the IT industry as a graduate/trainee, you're likely to have an idea of where your interests lie. Whether it’s in web design, technical support or software development to name but a few, a graduate/trainee scheme will give you a good idea of what the job involves and how to progress into other, more senior roles.
Whether you choose to remain in that position or move into a different area of IT, you’ll have the chance to learn various skills and/or gain qualifications that you can use throughout your career. Another key benefit of joining a graduate/trainee scheme in IT is that you’ll gain valuable experience and training, possibly qualifications too, without having to fund everything yourself.
There’s a wide range of options open to you as a graduate/trainee. These include junior programmer, support engineer and analyst programmer through to PHP developer and application tester. As IT becomes increasingly important in business, you'll find roles in virtually every sector; from pharmaceutical and banking to retail and media.
Where your career takes you depends on what motivates you the most. You may find that you enjoy the technical side of the industry, so you might chose to move towards development or testing. Alternatively, you might prefer using your people skills to take a management position, such as IT or network manager.
Once you’ve joined a graduate/trainee scheme you will develop a huge range of skills you can apply to the IT role of your choice. There may be opportunities to continue developing your career within the same company, too.
For example, if you begin as a trainee analyst programmer, you can advance to become an analyst programmer and from there develop specialist skills in development languages such as Java, .Net, C++ and others.
If flexibility is important to you, there are many roles in IT that can lead to freelance or self employed work once you've gained experience. Among the opportunities are les like freelance web development or remote-access IT maintenance.
The skills required as a graduate/trainee in IT will vary depending on your chosen area, but empoyers will typically look for you to have:
- Problem solving skills
- Up-to-date knowledge of technologies
- Good organisational and time management skills
- For programming, knowledge of one or more programming languages relevant to the role
- Some may require experience with database management systems
- An ability to work to deadlines
- A good eye for detail
Most degrees will count towards a graduate/trainee scheme if you can demonstrate an interest in IT, but a relevant degree or qualification would help. This could be in computer science, information technology, computer engineering or information system management.
Without a degree, it’s possible to start a training scheme as an apprentice or by gaining a computer-based academic qualification such as BTEC/HNDs, GCSEs or specialist computer training qualifications.
If you already have experience at a junior level in the IT industry, this can also help to secure a place on an IT graduate/trainee scheme.
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With technology and the IT industry changing so rapidly, regular training is very important to stay up to date. Depending on your chosen profession, the company you work for may require you to learn new skills. For programmers or developers, this might be a new development language, or for other roles, it can even include courses in law, business or marketing for example.
Each company will have its own IT systems. These are updated frequently, so you need to stay on top of the latest developments. This kind of training is often a mixture of self-tuition via the latest manuals and information provided by the suppliers.
Hours and environment
Most of the time you’ll work between 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday. If a database or programme requires fixing quickly, it can sometimes be necessary to work out of hours, depending on your position and level of responsibility.
Whilst on a graduate/trainee IT course, it’s likely the company you're with will send you on a number of training courses as part of the graduate/trainee scheme.
The average IT trainee earns around £30,000. Your salary will be directly related to your qualifications and experiences, so once you've finished your training your salary will increase accordingly.
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