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Who Does What Job in IT?

October 1, 2018

With this post, I am starting a new series on who does what job in IT and what their job titles are. You probably agree with me that there’s a fair amount of abstraction in job titles. I am focusing on the titles and the duties that come with them. Lets explore this.

Project Management is Straightforward
Over the last few weeks, I have written about projects and project managers. It is pretty easy to understand that in IT, project managers manage projects. This is generally true, however, there are circumstances where the necessary project management tasks—planning, directing, solving problems and communicating—are handled by different members on the project team. In this case, no one has the title of project manager. In addition, they are generally part-time in their project management responsibilities as they are doing other project duties as well.

This distributed approach to handling the management of a project evolved by trial and error, or perhaps it was in response to experiences with incompetent project managers. Poor project management technique and execution is, after all, responsible for many project failures, so the people managing these failed projects didn’t have the necessary skills to meet the challenges of the project. They gave project management a poor reputation.

What About the Other Jobs in IT  
Project managers are just one type of IT job. Let’s look at the categories of IT specialist and IT architect. I call them categories because each has different variants. Here are some examples of IT specialist job titles from Indeed:
  • IT specialist
  • Senior IT specialist
  • IT specialist (CompTIA Security+ certified)
  • IT support specialist
Here are some examples of IT architect job titles, again from Indeed, that I put together from job postings:
  • IT architect
  • Senior IT architect
  • Solution architect
  • Enterprise architect
  • Principal architect
  • Software architect
  • Technical architect
Why are these two types of IT jobs so important?

IT Specialist
IT specialists are the people who carry out the plan. They are execution oriented. They install products, configure them and, when necessary, they train other people how to use them. That’s not to say that they don’t plan or communicate or do other important activities. But when your laptop dies and you are having trouble getting the replacement machine to restore your backup, it’s an IT specialist who helps you out.

If you are looking for a job, the vast majority of the open jobs are at the entry level. Fifty percent of that amount are mid-level IT specialist jobs and 20 percent of that amount are at the senior level. Here is a breakdown of the number of open jobs for IT specialist on by experience level (salaries for this job range are from $30,000  to $90,000):
  • Entry-level: 51,026
  • Mid-level: 26,437
  • Senior-level: 4,587
For more than 35 years, I was an IT specialist. Early in my career, I installed products and trained people. As my skills developed, I moved on to other types of work—project management, offering development, portfolio management—but I retained my IT specialist job title and certification. It wasn’t always easy, but I kept my technical skills fresh.

IT Architect
IT architects are harder to describe than IT specialists. That is reflected in their job titles (see list above). IT architects spend time running sizing tools, writing technical solution descriptions and developing designs and documenting them in detail. These are just a few simple examples.

Depending on the company that they work in, they might participate in activities that develop the costs of products and solutions and work with the people who price them. They can spend a lot of time convincing non-technical people of the wisdom of their technical work. This is because their work can result in the spending of a lot of company money, so careful review is necessary. Basically, most technical aspects of products and solutions, at the design stage, are handled by people with the IT architect skill set.

By experience level, there are fewer jobs available for architects as shown by the data below:
  • Entry-level: 2,893
  • Mid-level: 15,428
  • Senior-level: 8,330
However, IT architect jobs pay better than IT specialist jobs, with the range from $80,000 to $130,000. Companies with a tech focus cannot do without a core of highly skilled IT architects whose job is to help shape the company’s technology future. I was never an IT architect, but I worked with many who had the title. They were always in the center of the technical activity of the project and were typically highly skilled. Without their contribution, most of my projects would have never been completed and products and services never would have reached the marketplace.

Posted October 1, 2018| Permalink