July 16, 2024


Digitally first class

What, exactly, is information technology?

What, exactly, is information technology?

Information technology professionals provide hardware, software, and one-on-one device support. Although most people’s interactions with IT involve computer issues, the work extends far beyond that. IT departments usually have three areas of responsibility –– operations, infrastructure and maintenance, and management. IT operations generally encompass engineering, database administration, or development. 

IT roles include:

  • Operations engineers: Operations engineers install, run, and manage networks, servers, and external services such as cloud computing. 
  • Database administrators: These professionals create and maintain systems that store information.
  • Development operators: DevOps engineers combine software engineering with coding skills to build software, improve it, and perform software deployments. 

Does IT include cybersecurity?

Some people within and outside of technology-related careers consider cybersecurity an IT-related job. As with other professions, job titles and responsibilities sometimes overlap. As a result, IT and cybersecurity workers may collaborate or handle some of the same responsibilities. 

But when analyzing essential job skills and responsibilities, IT and cybersecurity professionals take different approaches to safeguarding digital information. Cybersecurity tends to focus more on protecting the data itself than the infrastructure supporting it. As with cybersecurity, the number of people responsible for IT depends on a company’s resources. One person may handle multiple responsibilities –– or even everything IT-related.

Information technology jobs

More than 12 million Americans worked in the IT sector in 2019. The net employment of people in technology-related jobs grew by 307,000 workers, up 2.6% from 2018. Some IT positions require advanced degrees, while others have entry-level opportunities. Here we’ve featured some of the most popular information technology jobs.

Chief information officer

CIOs typically hold executive-level status and manage an organization’s overall IT functions. Their responsibilities include directing the IT staff to ensure technology and cybersecurity functions stay efficient, safe, and up to date. If there is no chief information security officer at the organization, the CIO may also oversee cybersecurity staff.

Cloud architect

These professionals design and implement cloud-based IT infrastructure for organizations. As part of that work, cloud architects must work closely with others to make sure the services meet an organization’s needs. They’re also responsible for cloud security and risk management.

Computer support specialist

Computer support specialists provide one-on-one technical assistance for computer users in an organization. People who do this job walk people through resolving computer issues. They may also provide support for overall IT or cybersecurity functions.

Database developer

Database developers create and operate computer databases that process and securely store information. They work with others to design database systems that support an organization’s needs. This may involve using coding to design systems and performing troubleshooting and maintenance.

IT security analyst

IT security analysts work to protect computer systems from cyberattacks by creating and implementing security strategies. Their responsibilities may include installing firewalls to protect digital data, and developing disaster recovery plans in case of a major data breach or loss. They may also work with penetration testers to identify system vulnerabilities.

Network administrator

Network administrators are responsible for operating an organization’s computer networks. Their duties include installing and maintaining an organization’s digital networks. Their work also includes managing devices that use the network, and keeping apps, like email, working.

Systems analyst

Also known as system architects, computer systems analysts study an organization’s computer systems and procedures. Their responsibilities include setting up new hardware and software and working with managers to ensure IT is meeting the organization’s needs. A key part of this job involves ensuring the organization’s IT systems meet business needs.


Also known as web developers, webmasters are responsible for a website’s overall look and function. That includes designing the site’s user interface, and handling technical aspects, like writing code or integrating graphics or video. Additional responsibilities include creating test versions of websites, and updating published content. Entry-level work in this role typically requires a bachelor’s degree.

In conclusion

Information technology is a broad, diverse, and growing field. Although IT professionals might help reset an account password or install a new printer, their responsibilities extend far beyond these important but basic tasks. IT workers use a variety of skills and apply their knowledge to develop real world solutions for all types of corporate and personal technology concerns.

What are some jobs in information technology?

Common jobs in information technology include database administrators, web developers, computer programmers, network architects, and computer research scientists.

Which IT jobs are in demand?

In-demand IT jobs for 2021 include database administrators, systems analysts, and mobile application developers. Other top jobs include software developers, network administrators, and help desk specialists.

This article was reviewed by Brian Nichols

A head-and-shoulders photo of a bearded white man in a grey suit with a blue tie.

Born and raised in upstate New York, Brian Nichols began his IT education through a vocational high school where he focused on computer science, IT fundamentals, and networking. Brian then went to his local community college, where he received his associate of science in computer information science. He then received his bachelor of science in applied networking and system administration from a private college. Brian now lives in Kansas City, where he works full-time as a DevOps engineer. Brian is also a part-time instructor in cybersecurity. He’s passionate about cybersecurity and helping students succeed. 

Brian Nichols is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network.