Professional development: why it matters for IT professionals

Whatever your IT background or skillset, your work as a technical manager or specialist will never be just about technology.

 

 

Sure, your expertise in IT is invaluable, but often what really sets you apart in the industry is versatility. That means a truly successful IT professional will possess a diverse range of skills, including some not directly related to IT. Among other things IT professionals need to be business-savvy, adept with technology, strong communicators and good leaders.

Yes, it's a lot. That's why it's important to not only refresh your skills, but also develop new ones through ongoing professional development. Luckily, there are plenty of professional development courses out there. As a freelancer, unfortunately you won’t have the luxury of being able to get your employer to pay. But that shouldn’t not deter you: it’s still more important than ever to continually develop your skills and set yourself apart from others.

Not sure what courses to take? Here are some key skills that every IT professional would benefit from developing or brushing up on:

Systems/tools/technology

Love it or hate it, technology is increasingly important and is likely to be a major part of your work. Learning to use different software, programmes and tools and staying up to date with new developments will keep you current and competitive. Particularly for the luddites among us, intensive or crash courses are often the best way to go. They will give you a properly in-depth understanding of different computer systems and tools. And if you are technologically-inclined, consider the potential leg-up you could get by developing a niche in IT and management/leadership – it would make you something of a rarity.

Sales, marketing, operations

The clients you serve as an IT professional will inevitably be diverse, so staying up on all facets of business will prepare you to help any client in any industry. Basically, by understanding the nuts and bolts of things like sales, marketing, manufacturing and the supply chain, you'll be able to provide better overall support. Consider, then, taking a course in sales management, market research or supply and demand strategy.

Process/continuous improvement methodologies

Financial results are produced through business processes, so if you understand how to measure or improve processes, it adds tremendous value to your clients. A course in a methodology like Six Sigma will stand you in good stead. Supplementary courses are a great way to complement your existing skills or learn new ones.

While all of this extra learning and professional development might seem like arduous extra work in the short-term, the perspective and qualifications you will gain could very well get you more business in the long-run.  

This blog is sponsored by QA, who are the UK’s leading IT training provider. They offer a huge range of courses that can aid your development as an IT professional. As an IPSE member you can get a discount of up to 45 per cent on their courses, which cover areas such as technical IT, project management, business systems development, service management, office applications, leadership, management and business skills. Find out more here.

 

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Guest blog: QA IT training