1.5 million employees currently work in the IT industry, but the sector still needs an estimated 150,000 new entrants every year. Could you be one of them? From web designers to database administrators, there are many rewarding and lucrative IT jobs open to you if you have the right skill set. We take a look at five of the best software programs to consider learning if you want to kick-start your IT career.
Used by: website designers.
Website designers are responsible for designing the layout, appearance and usability of websites. While this career path doesn’t necessarily require formal qualifications, it does require knowledge of specialist software such as Photoshop.
Photoshop has been used in the design industry since 1990 and designers often use it to create individual site elements and website mockups, as it’s much easier to make changes if you’re not using HTML. These visual elements are then combined with coding to bring websites to life.
Interested? You can either gain the skills you need by taking a web design course, or you can teach yourself. Adobe themselves offer a range of expert-led Photoshop tutorials that will get you started.
What can you do with Photoshop?
Resize photographic images without loss of quality
Adjust brightness and colour
Crop and retouch images
Combine multiple elements to create a composite image
Add depth by layering images
Remove and reorganise objects and backgrounds
Amalgamate two or more images to create a scene
Add artistic filters
Use advanced brushes to paint curves and lines
Create 3D art
Adjust font width
Simulate real-life paintings
Oracle Database Software
Used by: data analysts, database administrators, application support analysts, oracle developers, software developers.
Research from IBM shows that we create approximately 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day, much of which is gobbled up by companies that are keen to gain insights into their business and their customers. Storing and organising this data in databases allows companies to manage, retrieve and analyse it effectively. Database software also protects the information in databases, ensuring that it’s consistent and accurate.
The software company Oracle began making systems for storing data in the seventies, and their database management system is now the world’s most popular. Oracle’s database is a relational one, which means that relationships are maintained between the different tables into which the data is organised.
The programming language you’ll need to master Oracle and other relational databases is SQL (Structured Query Language). SQL makes it easy to manipulate data and it’s also the language used in other database software such as MySQL and Microsoft’s SQL Server.
Used by: data analysts, Excel specialists, data administrators and project managers.
Excel spreadsheets are used to display financial information and other types of data. In a business context they can be used to calculate profit and loss, work out repayment plans, keep employee records, manage financial data and much more. Built-in templates include calendars, planners, balance sheets and financial reports.
If you’ve already come across spreadsheets you’ll know that they use grids of cells within columns and rows to manipulate, organise and perform calculations with data. The data can consist of numbers, text or formulas and Excel’s AutoSum tool is able to add, count or find the average for a particular column, row or group of cells.
This clever software program also carries out ‘what if’ analysis, which involves finding out how data is affected if one variable is changed. In addition, Excel sorts data in order to find particular information and imports data that needs to be analysed.
One of the most useful aspects of Excel is that it enables users to present data in a visually interesting way. You can choose to present it as a pie chart, a doughnut chart or a bar graph, and you can also highlight particular cells by making their contents colourful, bold or italic.
Employees in many different industries need a basic understanding of Microsoft Excel, but if you want to become an IT professional, you’ll need to move beyond the basics.
What can you do with Microsoft Excel?
Formatting Excel worksheets
Cross referencing tables
Using the IFERROR function
Creating flat data tables
Using the Vlookup function
Using LOOKUP functions
Using the ROUND function
Using the IF function
Used by: web designers, web developers.
WordPress is a content management system, which means that once a website is built, the owner can control and edit it themselves. While it’s perfectly possible to create your own website using WordPress’s pre-designed themes and plugins, advanced users will be able to customise these themes or even create their own.
Each of the many WordPress themes on offer has its own layout and style, but developers can add their own code, enabling them to tweak both the look and the functionality of web pages. It’s also possible to transfer across design elements created with software like Photoshop.
WordPress also features over 45,000 plugins, which are small pieces of code that add extra functions to a basic WordPress website. Popular plugins include galleries, contact forms, security plugins and social media sharing buttons. Website developers often create their own plugins too.
Five Free WordPress Plugins
This handy plugin enables you to optimise your content, images, keywords and meta descriptions. It also analyses the readability of your content. A paid version with more advanced features is available.
WooCommerce powers more than 30% of online shops. The free version calculates the cost of shipping and taxes, as well as enabling you to accept payments via PayPal, credit card, cash and bank transfer.
Typekit fonts for WordPress
This Adobe service gives you access to high quality custom fonts. Simply sign up for a free account with Typekit to get started.
This popular plugin allows you to create multiple galleries which you can add to posts and pages. You can also customise layout, animations and thumbnail size.
Shareaholic enables your visitors to share articles, purchases and comments from your website to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more. You can choose the location of the sharing buttons and even make them stand out by adding a headline to them.
Used by: SEO specialists, website designers, digital analysts and data scientists.
Google Analytics provides insight into how visitors find a particular website and how they behave once they’ve arrived. These insights can help business owners to track the success of their online marketing and improve their website’s conversion rate.
Once a website owner has installed Google Analytics they can access the Google Analytics dashboard. This shows a range of useful data relating to website traffic, usability and performance. Here are some of the main features that are measured.
This relates to the number of visitors to your website, whether they’re new visitors or returning ones. Each session is recorded in 20 minute intervals.
This is the average amount of time a visitor is active on your website. It also takes into account how long a visitor stays active on your site.
If a visitor leaves a website after only viewing the page they landed on or without triggering any other events, Google Analytics will register a bounce. A website’s bounce rate is the number of single page sessions divided by the total number of sessions. It’s expressed as a percentage.
A conversion happens when a website visitor completes an action you want them to complete. You can set up tracking for a range of actions and conversions could be primary (such as buying a product) or secondary (such as signing up to your newsletter).
Performance by Device
This allows you view how many sessions originate from a Smartphone, desktop or tablet.
Have we tempted you to join the Information Technology sector? With job vacancies predicted to continue increasing, it’s a great time to become an IT professional. And if you need to sharpen up your software skills before you begin your job search, why not check out our wide range of IT courses today?