How to get an IT job

Dan Mason, Senior editor
September, 2016

Whether you're looking for an apprenticeship, entry-level job or graduate scheme, there are opportunities in the IT sector throughout the UK

Where to find IT jobs

You can search for graduate jobs in IT or visit the websites of major IT and telecommunications companies to find out about their graduate schemes. Vacancies for entry-level and graduate jobs can also be found on specialist recruitment sites including:

Jobs in IT roles within the public sector can be found on websites such as:

In addition, you can search for IT vacancies on general jobs websites. While the number of opportunities within IT companies may be relatively small, employers across all other sectors require graduates to fill IT and computing roles within their organisation, and many larger firms offer technology-related graduate schemes.

Jobs in IT can be found in all parts of the UK, but particularly in its larger cities. The Experis Tech Cities Job Watch report for the second quarter of 2016 identifies ten cities that are building a reputation as 'technology cluster hubs' where established firms and start-ups tend to group together. These are:

  • Birmingham
  • Brighton
  • Bristol
  • Cambridge
  • Edinburgh
  • Glasgow
  • Leeds
  • London
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle upon Tyne.

IT apprenticeships

Taking an apprenticeship allows you to earn a salary while learning on the job. It is a way of gaining a recognised qualification and entering the IT sector without going to university. Apprenticeships can lead directly to employment; according to Tech Partnership, the sector skills council, 90% of apprentices stay in jobs after completing their training.

Employers offer apprenticeships in many different areas of IT, such as cyber security, software development or networks. There are four levels of apprenticeship:

  • Intermediate - equivalent to five GCSE passes at grades A* to C.
  • Advanced - equivalent to two A level passes.
  • Higher - equivalent to a foundation degree and above.
  • Degree apprenticeships - equivalent to a Bachelors or Masters degree.

They last between one and four years depending on their level. The minimum wage is £3.30 per hour for apprentices aged 16 to 18 and those aged 19 or over who are in their first year. If you are 19 or over and have completed the first 12 months of training, you are entitled to the National Minimum Wage rate of £6.70 per hour.

Large companies in sectors including IT, telecommunications and finance all advertise relevant apprenticeship programmes on their websites - for example BT, IBM, Lloyds Banking Group, Microsoft and Virgin Media.

You can also search for IT apprenticeships, or browse the opportunities on the GOV.UK Find an apprenticeship service.

How to improve your computing skills

For some job roles you will need a degree in IT, maths, science or engineering, although you may be able to enter more business-focused careers (for example IT consultancy) with a degree in any discipline.

Postgraduate study is generally not essential. However, it does provide a chance to specialise in a particular area of IT, and may give you an advantage in the job market. If your first degree is not in IT, a Masters in information technology could allow you access to the industry. Search for postgraduate IT courses.

For information on entry requirements and relevant qualifications for particular roles, see graduate jobs in IT.

Gaining work experience will help you when it comes to securing a job. Many IT-related degrees include industrial placements, during which you can develop the skills that employers are looking for.

Alternatively, you can find placements and internships (short and long term) advertised on company websites and job sites. For smaller companies, you can apply for work experience speculatively. To find work placements and internships in the IT sector, search for work experience.

Many IT jobs demand specific technical skills, such as proficiency in a certain programming language, software application or method of project management.

A July 2016 report by the sector skills council, Tech Partnership, showed that more than a fifth of advertised digital vacancies were seeking candidates with knowledge of the Agile methodological process. An understanding of SQL Windows, SQL Server, JavaScript and .NET were among the other common requirements. The most sought after qualification was a degree, followed by Cisco and Microsoft certifications.

Therefore, to increase your chances of securing a job it is a good idea to continually improve your skills and keep them up to date. There are many different short courses and certifications available, while joining a professional body will give you access to networking opportunities and industry standard qualifications - read about IT training to find out what suits you best.

Technical CV for IT jobs

Technical CV for IT jobs example PDF

An IT CV, also known as a technical CV, can be used to apply for roles such as web developer, IT consultant, software tester or applications developer.

Include an introductory paragraph which mentions your technical expertise and experience and incorporate a 'key skills' heading which will allow for more detail when discussing technical competencies.

While you might be tempted to showcase all your technical abilities at once, ensure that you highlight relevant skills first and foremost. You should also bear in mind that the document will need to be understood by non-technical people such as HR managers.

Use this CV template to focus on your:

  • ability to maintain existing software applications and develop new ones
  • experience of applying technical standards, theories and techniques
  • problem-solving capabilities
  • communication skills.

Read our advice on how to get an IT job.