The IT sector is a highly successful market for NI and it covers a range of markets including data analytics, fintech, telecoms and networks, cyber security and internet of things. NI has attracted many high-profile global brands for over 15 years and the companies are continually impressed with the quality and commitment of Northern Ireland’s IT professionals.
From experienced hires to recent graduates, Northern Ireland’s talent continues to punch above its weight, helping attract major brands to set up shop here.
With a vibrant mix of over 1200 companies, Northern Ireland’s IT industry is booming! Did you know that there are over 100 global technology leaders who have established business operations in NI?
Global companies such as Deloitte, Bazaarvoice & Fujitsu have set up a base in Northern Ireland, taking advantage of the high calibre workforce, lower operating costs and government incentives available.
But there are also a number of local, indigenous firms such as First Derivatives, Kainos and FinTrU who have broken through the mould to become major players, exporting their services across the world, from the USA to Asia and everywhere else in between.
There has never been a better time to start a career in IT in Northern Ireland than right now.
Did you know that Belfast is the number 1 city in the world for fintech development inward investment projects? That means that Belfast receives more investment from foreign fintech related businesses (e.g: setting up their fintech company in Belfast) than anywhere else in the world!
This is a great achievement for such a small city and is a testament to the talent we have here. This has led to almost 900 international companies employing around 100,000 people in the region.
There are many different types of roles available, including: software or web developer, network engineer, software architect and database administrator.
These roles are all central to organisations and have become vital in today’s digital world where everything is online through desktops, mobiles, game consoles, satellite navigation devices and much more!
There are many different routes in to a career in IT. Many people choose to go to university and study a degree in Computer Science, Information Technology or Software Engineering for example.
Going to university to study an IT related degree gives you the advantage of being able to apply for more jobs when you begin your career. Many employers will ask for a degree in a related (usually technical) subject to be considered for a role, so having a degree allows you to keep your options open.
Queens & Ulster both offer various courses if you are interested in pursuing a career in IT and technology. You can do a more traditional course such as the two mentioned previously, or if you have something a little more niche in mind, they now offer courses in subjects such as Interaction Design, Animation or Games Design.
The less technical your degree, the more competition you will face when it comes to securing a job. Therefore, it is important to make sure you stand out. Make sure you do as well as you can in your A-Level exams to get a good grade and be able to go to a good university, and study a respected course.
Once you are at university, get involved with societies! A lot of the time, employers engage with societies, so you could end up doing a project on the side, gaining experience while you study (and making connections in the industry!).
If you decide that university is not for you, there are other ways you can get your foot on the IT career ladder. Apprenticeships are becoming more popular among employers, and they are basically a way for you to learn and earn. The employer will provide in-depth training which you learn, whilst getting paid and gaining hands-on experience while you are doing it.
The advantage of this is that you won’t be left with any student debt to pay when you complete it, and you will have several years of professional experience under your belt already! This could put you in a more competitive position than someone who has studied for 3 years and has no industry experience. At the end of the apprenticeship you also receive a recognised Apprenticeship qualification.
Perks and benefits vary depending on the organisation and the industry. IT professionals are needed in lots of different industries, from banking to retail, manufacturing to healthcare. Each industry will have their own perks and benefits, which will differ slightly.
Common benefits include: food allowance, travel expenses and flexible or remote working. A report from Glassdoor into the top 20 jobs for work/life balance included multiple IT roles, with software developer coming out in first place.
Culture is something that will differ between industries and sectors. For example, a web developer at a development agency will have a very different culture than a software developer in the NHS. The agency may be fast paced, working with lots of clients and juggling multiple projects, compared with the slower pace of working in as a developer in the public sector, working only on NHS systems.
A huge benefit of having a career in IT is the salary. According to a report from Tech Nation in 2017 found that digital salaries were on average 44% higher than the national average.
Getting on an IT graduate scheme you can also earn a hefty salary, with some paying up to £25,000, rising to £30,000 if you consider a career in London.