What's an ITPro?


Most people these days know what developers are, but many people don't realize there are technical careers even if you aren't into coding - the ITPro career path is another great option for people who love technology. 


If you're not sure if you're an ITPro, or what an ITPro is, or if it's something you'd want to do, check out this article by @Anoop C Nair about IT Career Options IT Pros Vs. DevOps Vs. Developers

Special added bonus - what is DevOps. 



If you're an ITPro, or would like to be, or would like to support more women being ITPros, come check out our User Group for ITPro Women. We welcome anyone, any gender, even Developers! Our first meeting is Friday, May 18, via Skype


10 Replies

I am glad Anoop spent a few paragraphs explaining what an IT Pro is in terms of our necessary design, implementation, access, and control of a company's networks, devices, operating systems, etc., before saying "IT Pros are the folks who look after Infrastructure for Developers." Because that sentence makes me cringe.


It kind of sums up what I've experienced as an opinion about IT Pro versus a developer, we just maintain the environment for the developers. It's more, without us, they couldn't access the internet, file shares, or the printer.  ;)

Hey Callahan!

Thanks for sharing (as always!) :) I'd love to know how you would typically respond to someone who asks what your role as an IT Pro is! For example, if a college student were to ask you, "So what do IT Pros do?", what would you say?

I've recently talked to a number of college students majoring in computer science, and while they acknowledged that they knew there were "other roles" in tech outside of coding/development, they couldn't pinpoint exactly what is it that IT Pros do other than keeping systems running, which I think HIGHLY understates all the amazing (and truly important!) work that IT Pros do!
Best Response confirmed by Dawn Wertz (Occasional Contributor)

Hi Shona (and Callahan and Cathy!),

If I were to try and explain to a college student about what an IT Pro might do (other than coding), here's some examples of things I might say:

  • Do you like working with people?  People use technology!  Sometimes they need help fixing a problem, or for someone to show them how to use tech effectively. Do you help your family or friends with their technology?  Then you've already started down the path as a Support Specialist!
  • Do you like puzzles and problem solving? Companies have lots of different technologies that they need to use together - why not help them figure out how all their technical pieces fit together? System and Network Architects keep all these services working together.  Every organization has a different environment and new tools being added every day, so you'll never run out of new challenges!
  • Are you a task master and like keeping things organized and on schedule? Check out IT Project Management!  Deploying new technology can be a big task that involves many people - someone needs to keep that ball rolling!
  • Want to protect and defend - virtually?  IT Security Analysts are the last line of defense in a constant game of cat and mouse! They police environments to ward off and fight against attackers using their detective skills and staying one step ahead of the bad guys.

@Adrienne Andrews - LOVE this!

This is AWESOME! You would be so great at writing job descriptions for IT Pros indeed - I love how simple yet important these roles you've described are! :) Sharing this with our D&T college ambassadors!
Thanks, and please do share! Sometimes IT jobs sound like they're so... technical... that we forget about the human aspects around them - but in truth, it's all about the humanity around technology. :)
100% agree!!! Couldn't have said it better :)

Strange- I sent in a reply earlier after I received Shona's response, but it didn't seem to post. So here it is again. I chose to answer the question more indepth than a simple ad format. I felt that maybe a complete answer from someone who is earnestly an IT Professional, would be the clearest way to answer this question. I can follow up with an elevator pitch if necessary.


What do IT Pros do?


Well, what Developers do, generally, is use a workstation, on a network, often accessing the internet, to use tools that have been installed (usually by IT) to write code to develop a product. They cannot do their job without these minimum of resources. I am simplifying, but this is basically it. They are responsible for creating stuff. Important stuff, but on resources made available to them somehow.


What the IT Pro does—is everything else related to computers. Make those and all other digital resources available to users, including developers.


IT is responsible for ALL the layers of the OSI model. Heck, we have to KNOW what an OSI model IS. Developers only work at the top layer, maybe the top two. We work in ALL of them (even their layers because we have to install and maintain the software they create, all the software the companies uses by any creator).


IT is responsible for all digital activities in a company. Physical, Virtual, and in the Cloud.


To be a little more detailed… From the physical layer- the literal equipment used to do anything computer related, including wiring, wiring closets (and the planning the power for them, UPS, and air conditioning), Routers, Firewalls, Switches, Access Points, VLANs, printers, VOIP phone systems, and often physical security systems such as cameras and security cards, to protocols for using those devices (like SIP, DNS, TCP/IP, and DHCP), up to the application layer. Disaster recovery for all necessary layers is a responsibility as well.


So to support the developer for example, what workstation he is using? What are its physical specifications, it’s warranty, it’s IP address? How is that workstation getting on the network? Wired or Wireless? If wireless, what is the SSID, what access point is he accessing, what are the security policies for that access, is it part of a VLAN? Is the IP address the workstation using static? If not, where is the workstation pulling it’s IP from? What range is it using? Are there any policies or filters applied to that range?


Does that workstation have antivirus/antimalware? Is it up to date? How is it up to date? How is it licensed? Licensing is the responsibility of IT. What are the backups for the workstations (and servers, and switch/firewall/router configs, etc.)? How many types, local, cloud, offsite? How often? How long stored? How often tested? How quickly recovered? Planned downtime based on scenarios?


Are there group policies applying to the workstation when it starts for the day (assuming it is on a domain)? Any update servers on the network?  Do they have Update policies?


The developer has to have an account to log in. That’s Authentication. IT manages that, Active Directory (for example, that is not the only authentication server out there), requires IT to have a physical server (or a physical virtual server on the network, a whole different set of skills for planning the physical server, storage, and more), on the network, with Windows Server installed, promoted to a domain controller, defining the internal domain (and the internal namespace if there are any internal web sites on offer- all domain stuff has to be planned, btw, by IT), setting up DNS, DHCP, FSMO roles (which can be moved around if there is already an existing domain), etc. For user accounts, a naming convention has to be used, security groups considered, password policies, group policies, access control, and the like.


For all the servers on the network, physical needs for the hardware must be accounted for, location secure, temperature controlled, power needs considered, disaster protection and recovery planned for. Does the developer need IIS to build apps, do they need Dynamics or SharePoint? IT is responsible for finding the hardware (virtual or physical), the licensing for their OS, the deep mastery of those Servers/Server Components so they can be configured for the developer to use. Is the developer’s email on an Exchange server on-premises, or in the cloud, or hybrid? Is authentication hybrid as well, so AD is synchronized with Azure AD? Does the company have O365 subscriptions? Everything O365 is managed by IT. All workstations are planned for, purchased, set up, OS and software installed, updated, licensing recorded, and managed by IT.


And don’t forget that printer paper, cartridges, mice, keyboards, and monitors are also considered reasons to call IT.


Everything on the ground or in the cloud is managed by IT. The developers would not get there without IT, the developers would not have workstations and servers to develop on without IT.


I think you can see why I find implying to young women that the only thing out there for women in technology is to *code* as very limiting, almost insulting. When there is literally everything else technology needs to function in IT. From managing network hardware, network topology physically and digitally, security, licensing, system management, software management, server management, and more. IT does it all. Most beginners won’t start with everything. They’ll be hired into an existing system, maybe supporting tickets for users on one OS, using a small set of products. Or they’ll be helping the F5 (load balancers, another job of IT) guys, or managing the content filters for a large school district. There are thousands of jobs for someone in IT.


So where do they start in learning? Well, if you’re going to be legit, and follow the OSI, they need to take their CompTIA certification first. It teaches them hardware (never, ever disdain the physical layer) and software (particularly Operating Systems). Then take the Network+, and optionally, Security+, and all the basic Microsoft MTAs. That gives the brand new IT Pro the fundamentals, the terminology, the context to understand what their coworkers are even talking about, what their bosses are even asking for. It lets them see how the whole system works. Because that’s what it is. An enormous system, like an ecosystem on our planet, or systems in the body. Each part touching the other, impacting the other. And mastery of the whole thing is really needed for an office to work productively. For a developer to work productively.


There’s plenty to learn in IT, to do in IT. It’s just that most offices take it for granted. It’s so ubiquitous, it’s invisible. No one thinks about the oxygen they’re breathing. No one thinks, when they’re at work, where exactly their internet access coming from. They just assume it’ll be there, and it is. IT does that.

I love this too! So compelling - can I pull your and Adrienne's replies into a blog post for the community? That way we can post on social and tell the world about IT Pros! :)

Absolutely, Shona!


@CA Callahan - Nice write up!  That's great information for those who may be more driven by a clear desire to be involved with IT just from a technology standpoint - my approach was just a bit different in that the intention was to get someone to think about their own personality traits and consider how those might translate in to the IT world, and hopefully provoke some thought by someone who had never even considered a job in IT before. I think what we're both saying, though, is that there are plenty of options for anyone - whether they only want to stick their toes in to the waters of IT, or dive in head first!