The field of Information Technology entails the application of devices to help people to manage information. It encompasses many jobs, each with differing skill sets. To do well in the IT field you must decide on a direction to proceed in. This can have a major impact on your career, your happiness in your work and your ability to earn a living. Two major areas of IT are networking and software development. There is little overlap between these two areas and each requires a great deal of knowledge. So which area will you pursue, networking or software development?
A computer network is a group of computers, and other devices, connected by cables or radio signals. A network allows these devices to exchange information. The information management capabilities of a computer network far exceed what can be provided by a single device. It takes a considerable amount of work to set up and maintain these networks. The network must be carefully planned and someone has to run the cables and plug the devices together. These are the tasks of a network administrator (Institute for Career Research, 2009). While some of a network administrator's work is performed at a desk or in meetings, much of it entails going to where the computers are. It also includes running cables, often in ceilings or walls. Troubleshooting a malfunctioning network entails checking each device and each line to find the fault.
Computers are just machines and they will do nothing without instructions. The area of software development focuses on writing these instructions. There are numerous ways that the instructions can be written and they resemble, in structure, a language. There are many languages, each with different syntax and vocabulary. Like a human language, it can take years to become fluent in a computer language (Gladwell, 2012). With practice you will eventually be able to think in these languages. Writing an application is much like writing a book. It requires creativity and a firm understanding of the language that you are using and your intended audience. While some knowledge of the functioning of computers is necessary, it is often necessary to have knowledge outside the IT field (Gladwell, 2012). A software developer will spend his time at a computer writing instructions or in meetings planning the software. Software development is often more mentally intensive than networking.
Career opportunities abound in both networking and software development. Both are used in nearly every business and in most homes in the developed world. Existing networks must be maintained or they will fail (Farr, 2007). Existing software can always be improved upon and are never without flaws that need to be corrected. There is also considerable need to train the users of both software and networks. These...