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From installing new software to monitoring network security, an IT generalist covers various tasks in a company IT department without specializing in any one area. Ideal candidates for this occupation are tech-savvy, love the challenges of repairing and updating computer systems, and are not afraid to take on many roles on a daily basis. Armed with a knowledge of many areas of computer technology, IT generalists often assume supervisory or leadership positions. Working as an IT generalist is typically a full-time job; they work in the IT departments of all industries.
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IT Generalist Duties and Responsibilities
Regardless of the type or size of the company in which they are employed, IT generalists basically perform the same major duties. We have studied several job listings for this occupation and found the following to be the responsibilities most commonly listed:
Install New and Upgrade Software
IT generalists keep a company's system updated with the latest software. They evaluate systems upgrades and new software, install and implement this software, and run tests to ensure compatibility and to address any issues with new or upgraded applications.
Provide Systems Support
It is typically up to IT generalists to provide technical support to both in-house and remote users. This includes handling issues that the first-level technical support staff could not resolve and troubleshooting specific systems errors and issues. IT generalists also train support staff in the use of hardware and software associated with company systems.
Establish and Maintain Network Security
It is of utmost importance for companies to maintain network security to keep their systems running smoothly; to this end, IT generalists continually monitor network security, evaluate existing security programs, update antivirus software, and run scans to ensure network integrity.
Oversee Disaster and Recovery Plans
Companies must always be prepared for power outages, surges, and other disasters that can adversely affect their data and computer systems. IT generalists create, implement, and maintain recovery plans to ensure that all pertinent information is saved and can be retrieved in the event of a disaster.
Create Activity Logs for Upgrades and Maintenance
IT generalists generally keep records of systems upgrades and maintenance. They keep track of when upgrades are available and due to be installed, when maintenance needs to be performed, and what improvements have been made to IT infrastructures.
IT Generalist Skills and Qualifications
The most effective IT generalists are strong problem-solvers and leaders with highly capable technical skills. The following skills are commonly mentioned in IT generalist job listings:
- Computer skills - from knowledge of computer operating systems to the application of programming skills, IT generalists display a broad range of IT and computer skills
- Customer service skills - whether they're solving problems for in-house users or consumers, IT generalists provide consistent customer service, ensuring customer satisfaction at all times
- Attention to detail - IT generalists are cognizant of every detail that goes into network security, software upgrades, and other tasks to avoid potential issues and downtime for company computer systems
- Troubleshooting -IT generalists test systems and evaluate issues to find problems within a computer system and to make repairs as needed
- Multitasking - IT generalists might oversee an upgrade project, resolve an issue with a computer system, and answer questions from a first-level staff member, making multitasking an essential skill
- Team player - collaborating with IT tech support staff, software engineers, programmers, and other IT personnel is important for IT generalists
- Organizational skills - keeping adequate and organized files on systems upgrades and maintenance schedules as well as problem resolutions is a high-priority responsibility for IT generalists
Tools of the Trade
Tools and equipment that IT generalists must be familiar with include:
Databases (Oracle, Sybase, SQL Server)
Programming languages (Java, HTML, XML, SQL)
Networking technologies (VLANs, firewalls, VPN, DNS)
IT Generalist Education and Training
In most cases, employers seek candidates who hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information systems, management information systems, or a related area. Many of these four-year degree programs contain classes in networking technologies, network security, database management, computer programming, and software development. Though not required in many instances, it could be helpful to possess specific certifications, such as those in Cisco or CompTIA networks, to begin or advance in this career.
IT Generalist Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), IT generalists and related professionals earn an annual median salary of $87,220. Those in the 10th percentile earn a yearly salary of $53,110, while those at the other end of the spectrum can make as much as $137,690 annually.
IT generalists employed in manufacturing firms and in computer systems design tend to realize the highest mean annual wages in this field, at $106,700 and $95,580, respectively. Professionals employed in New Jersey ($102,310), California ($101,440), and the District of Columbia ($101,240) make the highest yearly mean salaries in this field.
Employment growth is expected to be nine percent through 2026, the BLS reports. Continued technological advances, such as mobile technology, and reliance on IT are believed to be the main reasons for companies seeking the services of IT generalists. There were more than 600,000 individuals employed as IT generalists or in similar occupations in 2016.
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Want to know more about what it takes to become and work as an IT generalist? Take a look at the resources provided below to get more insight into this career option.
Beginning and professional IT generalists will find support, training, and career development offered through this organization, which was founded in the 1950s.
IT's Hidden Face: Everything you always wanted to know about Information Technology. A look behind the scenes
Get an inside look at what IT generalists and other IT professionals do on a daily basis. Covers IT terminology, project management tips, IT security and so much more in an easytoread style.
What could be more helpful to those seeking or just beginning a career as an IT generalist than to read interviews with IT network professionals, attend Q & A sessions, network with other professionals, and review the most recent articles and publications in the field? NPA provides this support to IT generalists.
An online magazine with information IT generalists should know, such as industry trends, the latest news, reviews of new technology, and more.
A weekly podcast presenting interviews with IT professionals about what's going on in the world of IT. A great way for IT generalists to find out what most impacts their profession and the organization they're working for.
Review case studies and best practices in IT to understand what IT generalists and other IT professionals do and how to be successful in this industry. Provides information about technology trends affecting this profession.