November 20, 2012

So you want to be in IT? IT as a career field certainly has plenty to offer. Unemployment in IT is at historically low levels, as low as 3.3 percent according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s a constantly changing industry offering new challenges and obstacles for its workforce. But how can you be sure it’s a field that’s right for you? Which traits do you need to be successful? Here are six traits that any IT professional will need in his/her career.

1.       Patience is a Virtue…and a Necessity

The most frequently mentioned trait was patience, and it makes complete sense. Anyone interested in going into IT should understand this: something, whether it is a server, proprietary software or anything in between, will break. “You will need patience with people and patience with your equipment,” one consultantsaid. “Getting angry and frustrated will not help you succeed.” Adam Billmeier, a Systems Manager at Landmark Structures also recommends having a sense of urgency, but showing patience and not rushing to judgment or a solution when a problem arises.

2.       Communicating with different levels of users

Communication skills, along with many other soft skills, are becoming increasingly important in IT. Billmeier says IT needs to “give the users the level of information they want or need to answer a question or put the problem/solution in context.”

3.       Curiosity and the Desire to Learn 

Because the IT field changes rapidly, professionals of all levels need to be able to adapt quickly, and have the curiosity to learn and ambition to learn every day. Billmeier believes you have to have a “desire to know the answer to ‘how does this thing work?’” That desire will keep you up-to-date on the latest trends and sharpen your skills. Your knowledge is like a muscle, if you don’t exercise it by learning new technologies, your skills will stagnate.

4.       Prioritizing Multiple Tasks

No this is not multi-tasking. If you’re not sure why multi-tasking should not be the key, take a look at our previous blog post about it. Bryce Katz, of Katz Computer Consulting, says IT professionals must instead “recognize that you will have multiple tasks running in parallel with each other. Good IT folks become adept at managing their time and rapidly switching between tasks…each of these tasks gets my FULL attention while it’s at the top of the queue.”Katz said he has learned to do what any IT person must learn. Don’t try to do three tasks at once, but “simply cycle through the queue very, very fast.”

5.       Solving Problems Using Incomplete Data

Sometimes, you won’t be able to get one-hundred percent of the data you want to make a decision. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to make the correct choice. “A gift for arriving at correct conclusions from incomplete data helps,” an IT manager said. “Solving for ’X’ with known data that is perhaps less than comprehensive” can be an acquired skill, but it’s a natural skill that many successful IT people have. If you can’t apply good problem solving principles you’re in the wrong field.

6.       A Passion for Your Field

Does this trait only apply to folks in IT? Not at all! But that doesn’t make it any less important. “What we say around here is you need a passion for IT if you don’t love it then you won’t last,” Network Administrator J. Horton said. “Tech is always changing and we have to be current on it all the time, you never stop learning. Eat, sleep and breathe IT!”

Which traits do you think a successful IT professional needs? Can all of the traits be learned or do they require a natural talent? Tell us in the comments section!

Posted By: James Sweeney

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