Thinking seriously about a career in ICT?
Then you probably like to keep up with the latest technology, enjoy analysing problems and creating solutions. With ICT qualifications, you're heading for a solid-state career.
Preparing yourself for a career in ICT requires vision and imagination. The evolution of disruptive technologies is constantly creating new fields to enter so exploring options and different pathways is a smart move.
So it's time to move forward with your career planning. Here is some useful info to help you start building your skills right now.
What skills do I need?
Most ICT professionals provide specialised services to clients or other parts of their organisation. They often need to work collaboratively in a fast-paced, ever-changing environment.
ICT professionals require a range of skills - some are common to all ICT roles, while you may need specialised/ technical skills for some roles.
ICT professionals typically need:
- problem solving ability and creativity
- critical thinking and and sound judgment (of people, ideas, strategies)
- team work and interpersonal skills
- communication skills
- ability to work under pressure / meet deadlines
- adaptability, flexibility and an eye for detail
- STEM skills
It's never too early to start work on building these skills if you want a career in ICT.
Building skills to succeed
Start by building your skills early on in your secondary education.
There are some essential "soft skills" that all ICT professionals need. Here are 10 essential "soft skills" fyou can start building through your school work, your hobbies, sports or part-time work and even within your friendships and social networks:
Communication skills (written and oral)
Writing reports and documents in a suitable style is essential for the job. Documents need to be created to help solve solutions in the future. You will need to discuss problems, give feedback and be able to speak about technical issues in ways the client and users can understand.
You need to be a good listener and obtain a clear understanding of what the user requires and how to meet the client's needs, to produce an efficicient ICT outcome.
As an employee you must be trustworthy. You might have access to sensitive data and it is important you don’t misuse it.
You'll need the ability to work effectively in a team. You need to be sensitive to the needs of others, reliable, supportive and co-operative, so that ideas are freely shared for the best outcome.
Adaptability & Flexibility
Software and technology change fast, so you need to be able to adapt to change. You may need to adapt to new working methods. Also, projects often overlap or you may need to swap between teams, so you need to be flexible and able to cope with change.
Attention to detail
You need to spend time thoroughly checking work to avoid mistakes. For example, people involved in entering data into a live computer system need to work with a high level of accuracy, as incorrect data leads to incorrect information.
In ICT you need to come up with new ideas for jobs and new ways to solve problems. You will need to possess a strong visual sense and good spatial awareness as well as sound technical knowledge.
Good problem solving ability
Approaching problem solving in a systematic and logical way is essential for many ICT roles. Many organisations require new employees to take aptitude tests.
Work under pressure
The ability to meet deadlines is essential. It is possible that you will have to work long hours to fix a problem that needs to be resolved as soon as possible. Work should not be left to last minute.
Work flexible hours
In certain jobs you need to be able to work flexible hours. For example if you work for a multi-national organisation in London but your users are located in America, you need to be able to provide support for them. Sometimes a job will need you to be on call so you will need to be available if a job pops up.
Complete your work experience in an ICT related workplace. First, do some research about the differences between working in a smaller or larger company:
- A small company may give you the opportunity to be exposed to more areas of ICT within the one role.
- A larger company may give you a broader feel for how different ICT roles operate and how they ineract with operational areas such as sales, marketing, product development, work programming, system testing, cyber security etc.
- Alternatively, you could work in an organisation that is not itself an ICT company. Many organisations leverage ICT for their business, such as transport and logistics, finance, banking or a retail head office. These could open up many more options for your career.
- The tasks you undertake as part of your work experience may not be your dream job, but you'll get an understanding of the day-to-day work of an ICT professional or how ICT is leveraged in business. It's a great opportunity to see what others are doing in that workplace too.
- Look at the employment section of newspapers or on job websites. Search for ICT jobs, read through the role descriptions and consider whether the role matches your interests, skills and capabilities.
- Look at the career websites in Find out more > Useful links.
What school subjects can help?
Your Careers Adviser can help you decide and you can do your own research as well. The diversity of the ICT industry and the growing number of careers and roles means there are plenty of specialisations you can consider. Understanding your own skills and aptitude is important - select VCE subjects that match these and your ICT interests.
STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) are a must - so stick with your STEM subjects right through to the end of year 12 to maximise your options for higher education and beyond:
- In 2012, it was estimated that 75% of the fastest growing occupations require STEM skills. These include ICT occupations where STEM skills are essential, such as systems analysts, software and applications programmers, database and systems administrators, and cyber security specialists.
- In 2014, Bureau of Statistics figures showed STEM skills jobs grew at 1.5 times the rate of other jobs in recent years, with the fastest growing occupations requiring STEM qualifications including those in IT, engineering and science.
Other subject areas to consider are Product Design and Technology (formerly Design and Technology) and subjects that will strengthen your "soft skills" as these are also essential for ICT professionals.
University courses may vary, so their course guides will explain the subjects you will be studying at their uni and their course outcomes. To help you to decide which VCE subjects may be useful to you, research the courses and pathways that will best get you where you want to go. Make sure you consider what flexibility is available to transfer from one discipline or course to another, in case you find you're not enjoying your first choice.
Use VCE to achieve your personal best results. While ATAR isn’t everything, you will have the widest possible choice of options if you achieve the best results you can. You will also learn about your own potential - it’s great preparation for the effort that will be expected of you at university.
Before choosing VCE subjects, do some research on your course options at different universities. Our LEAP Partner Universities websites all have a special LEAP landing page with shortcuts to their courses, entry pathways, scholarships & financial assistance, student support services and more...
If you're aiming for a specialised degree, your subject choices can be even more focused. University courses may vary, so their course guides will explain the subjects you will be studying at their uni and their course outcomes.
You should also check the VTAC publications web page, go to the Publications for Year 10 and 11 students and browse to the VICTER publication for the year you'll be applying for entry. It lists all Victorian Universities' pre-requisites for entry into their courses.
Explore options and pathways
ICT is diverse field, so you should first understand the ICT areas and specialisations - check out our ICT > glossary to help you decide which area sounds right for you.
If you're unsure which direction you want to take in ICT or just want to keep your options open, consider a degree such as Bachelor of IT, or Bachelor of Computer Science which will give you transferable skills. You can choose specialisations as you progress through your course and get a better feel for the areas you are best at and enjoy the most.
If you're aiming for a specialised degree, your course choices can be more focused. There are lots of options for ICT studies at university and many options for double degrees, combining ICT studies with other areas including the business, design, engineering, health, law and science areas. University courses with similar names may vary so look closely at their course guides, which will explain the courses and subjects you would be studying and the expected course outcomes. Also check out our ICT professions snapshot - facts and figures on the ICT - Getting started page, to see what employment trends are predicted.
When researching your options, consider those recognised by industry professional organisations such as the Australian Computer Society (ACS), giving you an advantage in the job market. Also find out what flexibility is available to transfer from one discipline or course to another, in case you find you're not enjoying your first choice.
Visit Open Days
It is a good idea to visit open days held on metro and regional university campuses. Download our Open Day Calendar (PDF 79Kb) to plan your visits and our Open Day Hints and Checklist (PDF 100Kb) for tips on what to do and ask at an Open Day.
Build your skills in a LEAP activity
See the LEAP activities you can get involved in, to skill up and prepare for a career in ICT.
Are you ready to make the leap?
Have you now specified your tech career plan? Then go to Making the Leap for some final hints and tips to refine your build phase.