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What does an Information Technology Specialist do?

M. McGee
Updated: Mar 02, 2024

An information technology specialist, often called simply an “IT specialist,” works with computers and Internet networks in a variety of different settings. Most corporations have entire IT departments that help keep employees connected and websites in working order, though these are by no means the only jobs available. Schools, non-profit organizations, and basically all entities with a need for computer services and Internet technology employ people with IT expertise. These sorts of people often also work for computer companies themselves, providing help and support directly to clients. The day-to-day aspects of this job can vary, but in nearly all cases the work involves maintaining computer systems, keeping networks in working order, and being available to solve problems and address complaints as they arise.

Hardware Servicing

Keeping physical computers in good working order is one of the most straight-forward aspects of any information technology specialist’s job. These people are usually the first ones to set up new systems in corporate settings, and they’re typically also responsible for helping new employees get set up and established with a work computer. Specialists sometimes hold courses or informal classes to help users get familiar with their machines, and usually have to be familiar with a variety of different systems and operating platforms.

Routine maintenance is also part of the job in most places. This usually means regularly checking machines for needed updates and making sure that programs like virus protection are up to date and in working order. Certain technical tasks like rewiring circuit boards and installing fresh memory chips may also be required.

Network Maintenance

Most computers are “networked,” which means that they are linked up to other machines either physically or through the Internet. Machines that are linked to each other in a more limited way usually are part of an “intranet,” which is a closed network within a corporation or business. This sort of setup allows users to quickly message or share information with each other that isn’t seen by the outside world. Connection to the larger Internet is much more global, and usually requires a slightly different system. In either case, IT specialists tend to be the ones who make sure that all computers and devices that need to be connected — including tablets and smartphones — are joined properly and safely.

Safety usually involves requiring passwords, but can also include things like building firewalls and cyber fences to protect information. Specialists are often in charge of setting up data protection measures to keep proprietary information that is stored in electronic format from being either accidentally distributed or intentionally hacked.

Troubleshooting and Problem Solving

Computers and network connections aren’t always straightforward, and often confuse people who don’t have expertise in the finer points of how they work. Many IT operators spend a lot of time troubleshooting and helping clients either understand their machines or solve problems. This can be as simple as retrieving a lost or forgotten password or as complex as reinstating a crashed website or debugging a computer that has been infected with a virus or other malicious code.

Different Work Settings

Most IT specialists go to work for private corporations, but this is by no means the extent of the job possibilities. Some specialists work for retail stores like grocery chains and spend most of their time traveling to different locations and working on-site; others staff remote call-in help desks where people with general questions about how to make their computers, phones, or other technology work can call for assistance. Computer stores and sales centers may also hire these sorts of people to help new purchasers get set up on their machines; they may also lead classes and orientation sessions for both personal and professional clients.

Required Training and Education

Most jobs in the IT sector require university-level education, and higher degrees typically lead to better pay and more advancement potential. An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in fields like computer science and engineering are typically good places to start, and many schools will offer all the way up to a doctorate in these fields. Many of the essentials needed for the job can be self-taught or learned through experience, though. It’s sometimes possible for people to get started in the field by proving their knowledge even if they don’t have a formal diploma.

Nuanced Military Definition

The term “information technology specialist” has a more specialized meaning within the United States Army, as it is the name of a military occupational strategy area dedicated exclusively to the maintenance, upkeep, and security of national defense computer systems. Uniformed personnel in this strategy area typically have to take specialized courses at military training facilities and have qualification requirements that are separate from those of civilians.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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M. McGee
By M. McGee
Mark McGee is a skilled writer and communicator who excels in crafting content that resonates with diverse audiences. With a background in communication-related fields, he brings strong organizational and interpersonal skills to his writing, ensuring that his work is both informative and engaging.
Discussion Comments
By anon971345 — On Sep 25, 2014

It surprises me when these so called "IT specialists" attempted to do some real IT work or pretend that they know anything about IT when in fact most of what they accomplished were a product of google this or google that. Trust and believe some claimed they can do some network stuff even had the nerve to set up security controls when in fact they have zero experience. What is this world coming to?

By anon359696 — On Dec 19, 2013

I am interested in knowing how difficult it would be to access a home Signet QV-3030 Infrared Camera Surveillance system, set up in a personal home (with or without remote access) to alter a playback recording of the image with only 3/4 of the screen pixels altered? Like, 3/4 of the screen was blurry and you could not distinguish faces etc and other normally still features like walls and doors flickered, whereas the other 1/4 of the screen (in this case a lounge) was stationary and unaffected.

Is this something a layman might be able to achieve or would this kind of interference be limited to professional or highly skilled specialists?

By anon347264 — On Sep 05, 2013

How does an I.T. specialist apply word processing in their work?

By GraniteChief — On Oct 08, 2010

As an employer I have had very mixed results with the actual capability of individuals and employees and what they actually claim to know.

While there are other types of certifications that computer experts and technology specialists can obtain, there is no specific license for the title of information technology specialist.

Having such a regulation or professional certification could greatly increase the reliability at which these individuals could be considered for employment.

By JoseJames — On Oct 08, 2010

The reason that the title of information technology specialist is so vague in it's description is because the duties and responsibility that it encompasses is a broard array of technology products, services and industry.

Generally a corporation that is hiring a technology specialist will have a much more detailed and easily defined job description. Differing levels of specialist and their specific area of focus will often be included in such human resource documents.

Employers should be weary of information technology specialist resumes as the name can be very misleading as to the actual skill level of the individual. Most information technology specialist job opportunities will be much more stringent for hiring requirements then simply stating that you are a in fact a specialist.

M. McGee
M. McGee
Mark McGee is a skilled writer and communicator who excels in crafting content that resonates with diverse audiences....
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