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Our guide to IT courses

Over the last couple of decades, IT has changed the world entirely. We’ve become more connected, more advanced and more reliant upon technology than ever before. While we all probably agree that computers have been one of the best inventions of the 21st century, for some they can still be a source of confusion and frustration. Help is at hand though. There is an abundance of IT courses out there ready to assist even the biggest technophobes in getting computer-savvy, as well as more advanced courses for any techie types who want to make a career in computers.

 

IT courses for beginners and pros

From basic courses that will teach you how to use Word or send an email, to training that will get you to the point where you can confidently work as an IT technician, there are IT courses available at all levels. The breadth of courses you can take emphasises the importance of reading the course description before you sign up for anything too quickly. You don’t want to find yourself studying how to set up an entire network when all you really wanted was to create a basic spreadsheet.

 

Specialise

IT courses don’t just teach you how to be an IT technician, they will show you how IT works and how it functions in business, but if you want to get ahead in the industry, specialising can certainly help.

Some courses might focus on certain software like Microsoft Office or operating systems like Linux or Mac, and at the end you will get a certification to show you know them inside and out. This sort of accreditation can really help your CV stand out in the world of IT work. However, one issue many IT professionals have is the fact that new systems and software are often being released and therefore you will need to retake courses every few years in order to stay up to date on any new features.

 

IT jobs

As technology has advanced, the number of jobs in IT has increased, and there’s no sign of this stopping. Below are just a few of the most popular jobs for those with IT training under their belt.

IT trainer – this is a role that involves teaching other people how to use IT. This might be on formal courses like the ones you’re probably about to look at or it might involve training new people in the IT that a particular company uses so they can do their jobs.

IT support manager – this role involves working for a company and maintaining computer systems on a network. This might also include ensuring telephone systems are work effectively. You’ll be a full time employee, making sure that the tools your colleagues need to do their jobs and keep the company functioning work properly.

IT consultant – this role could see you working in a freelance capacity with different companies, advising on different aspects of IT. You might find yourself setting up systems and training staff as a one off, coming in a couple of days a week to advise on new technology, or providing cover when IT support is away.

 

Impress your teacher

The big buzzword in IT at the moment is cloud computing – this is the idea of virtualisation whereby more than one computer can be run from one physical piece of hardware. Mention this to your teacher and they’ll be impressed by your background knowledge and will hopefully tell you more about the possibilities.

 

Before taking an IT course

We chatted to IT manager, Kevin McLaughlin who has worked in IT for over fifteen years. He offered up some tips for anyone interested in following in his footsteps…

 

1.       Find out what type of IT job the course will train you for – some focus on becoming an IT technician, but others will just look at how businesses use IT and then you will do on-the-job training when you get employed. If you’re hoping to specialise in a certain operating system or type of software, but you want to do one of the broader IT courses, check that the syllabus covers the area you’re interested in beforehand. I started by taking an information technology course at undergraduate level which gave me a good grounding in all areas of IT before I went on to work in support.

 

2.       Get to know your own computer beforehand. As with most things, practice makes perfect. Have a play around with the settings on your desktop computer at home and get to know what’s possible. Look at how everything is connected at the back and which plugs go into which sockets. It’s the simple things like this that, if you get to know them before hand, will help you get ahead. I was always helping my dad with his PC because he didn’t have a clue to use it!

 

3.       Don’t be afraid to ask questions – even if you think you might sound silly. Working in IT support, I get a lot of queries about things I find really simple, but if you’ve never been told how to do something, these things aren’t that obvious. Asking lots of questions while you’re still learning will mean you can help others much more effectively. 

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Awarding organisations for IT courses

  • Edexcel Ltd
  • One of England, Wales and Northern Ireland's most prominent examination boards, Pearson PLC’s Edexcel offers a number of different qualifications, from the academic GCSEs and A levels to the more vocational NVQs and BTECs. Many schools and colleges up and down the UK offer Edexcel qualifications, as well as businesses who wish to educate their employees. They also have a strong presence internationally with their BTECs being recognised in over 80 other countries. In recent years, Edexcel have been keen to make use of new technologies in their testing and marking.

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