Many people in the IT industry get start their careers in either graduate jobs or on trainee programmes. Why? Well it's the perfect way to learn and apply all the skills and qualifications you'll need to do well in your career while gradually taking on more responsibility in a controlled environment.
But what does a IT trainee actually have to do? We explain it all.
So, what will I actually be doing?
Although you'll probably already have some idea of where your interests lie - in web design, technical support, software development for example - starting on a graduate or trainee scheme will give you an opportunity to try the job on for size and get a good, solid foundation that will help you in any IT career before going on to specialise.
You'll be learning on the job. If you want to know more about your typical, daily tasks please take a look at our descriptions for individual IT jobs.
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The nitty gritty
Most of the time you'll work 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday. However it's quite common in the IT industry to work late or at weekends when there is a technical problem that needs fixing ASAP, or when there is a big project on the go which needs to cause minimum disruption to the business.
The job can involve lifting computer equipment so smart casual dress is usually OK, unless you are out meeting clients.
Getting onto a good training scheme will make sure you're in hot demand in the future. There are usually well structured career paths you can follow in your specialist area.
If you work in a more client-facing role then there will be opportunities to move out of IT and into a more general business role.
Money, money, money
The average IT trainee is on around £30,000. Your salary will be directly related to your qualifications and experience. Once you've finished your training you'll certainly notice an improvement to your pay packet.
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The good points...
One of the main benefits of joining a graduate or trainee scheme is that you'll get the best training, without having to pay for it yourself.
Getting good qualifications and experience are a sure fire way of making sure that you'll go on to have a successful career in the future.
...and the bad
Studying is par for the course on a graduate/trainee IT course. Although your company will build in time for you to attend training courses part-time or on day release, you should expect to do some homework and assignments in your own time.
Is there study involved?
Although there are fewer IT graduate and training job vacancies right now, there are many ways to get onto a scheme.
To get on a graduate training scheme you'll need a degree. Although most degrees will count (as long as you can prove you have experience and an interest in IT), it certainly helps if your degree is in a related subject, like computer science, information technology, computer engineering or information system management.
If you don't have a degree you could get onto a training scheme as an apprentice (www.apprenticeships.org.uk) or with computer-based academic qualifications including: BTEC/HNDs, GCSEs or specialist computer training qualifications.
If you've worked at a junior level in the industry, you might be able to use your experience to get a place on a training scheme.
Training is really important in the fast-moving IT business and employers are usually very proactive about offering it - especially if you're on a graduate or training scheme.
You'll need to keep up with all the latest developments in the IT packages your company uses. Because of the practical nature of IT administration and the information provided by the IT companies you'll often be able to teach yourself from manuals or can learn from other experts in your IT department.
OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?
It goes without saying that you'll need to have an interest in technology to do well on an IT graduate/trainee scheme. Problem solving is another common skill that employers rate, along with these:
- Good communications skills
- A commitment to ongoing training
Good time management
- Good organisational skills
- An ability to work to deadlines
- A good eye for detail