Skip to main content

What you can do with the computer skills you have

If you have some skill with computers and fancy working in IT, then the good news is that it is possible to get into the industry at a level that is suitable for you, and then learn on the job. Computer skills are vital these days for almost any sort of job, even if it’s just basic word processing or being able to send an email. Most office jobs require at least a basic competence in Word, Excel etc, and knowledge of how to navigate the internet. If you lack confidence in these areas then basic computer literacy courses are probably available in your area as part-time evening classes, either free of charge or at minimal cost. You may also be able to study at home using an online course or with the Open University.

IT is everywhere

Information technology now permeates almost every aspect of modern working life. Whatever career sector you look at, there will be a role for IT professionals within it. Computers are used in offices, retail, banking, engineering, science and the arts. Every business has a website and needs someone to design and maintain it. You can use your computer skills to become a graphic designer, software developer, data analyst, web developer, systems administrator or any one of hundreds of roles that currently exist under the IT umbrella.

In-house or contract

With so many different options available, it’s little wonder that many IT professionals choose to work on a contract basis rather than as an employee of one particular company. This means that programmers, developers and digital designers can choose projects on their own terms, and often command a higher hourly rate than their equivalents on the company payroll.

The advantage of this approach is freedom, variety and the satisfaction of being your own boss; the disadvantages include a lack of security and the added hassles of having to do your own tax and accounting, finding clients and so on. As a self-employed contractor, you also need to be careful not to fall foul of IR35 legislation. This was introduced by the UK government in April 2000 to close a loophole, which saw contractors avoiding tax and National Insurance payments by using an intermediary company. This can also affect individuals who are unaware they are doing anything wrong, so make sure you get good IR35 advice.

Training and where to go next

A computer science degree is the most obvious route into IT, but it’s not essential. A degree in Maths, Economics, Design or any other subject relevant to the area you want to work in may be just as useful, followed by a post-graduate qualification in IT. Many employers are more impressed by the professional certifications offered by companies like Microsoft and Oracle, because they recognise specific work-related skills.

Whatever route you take, there’s bound to be an IT role to match the computer skills you have. Just make sure you constantly update your abilities to stay in the game, and remember that learning on the job is the best education anyone can have.

What to think about when you set up your start up

When you set up your start up business there’s so much to think about. From managing all the paperwork, to getting everything running and not to mention sorting all the legalities out. Below are a few essential tips to get your start up going:

Get as much support as possible

There are so many government initiatives and programmes set up to help people get their business ideas off of the ground that it’s definitely worth doing you research. Try the national enterprise network for advice or visit gov.uk and try out their finance support calculator to see what funding you might be eligible for as you might be surprised.  Often schemes can help with getting anything from 6 months free rent or funding from a professional body.

Understand the law

Seek help from a law firm like Carrs Solicitors so you know exactly what you can and can’t do. Business law can be pretty complicated and making a big mistake early on could cost you a lot. By seeking advice from a law firm you’re sure to be on the right track. All commercial activity has its own special rules and regulations so it’s important to be aware of the dos and don’ts.

Use technology to your advantage

Speak to other small business owners who are already established. See if they know of any apps or production tools which make running a business easier. Apps like Dropbox are really essential so you can access all your important files and easily share documents from your phone. Evernote can also be very useful for setting up your start up as it allows you to transfer information from your desktop to phone and vice versa. When you are in the early stages of setting up you’ll often get advice from all angles, with Evernote you’ll be able to sort and manage this advice, making it more useful.

Marketing

Thinking about how you’re planning on marketing your business is essential. Attracting clients is the first big step to making your business a success. Use social media to create a buzz around your business before it opens and that way you have some time to build up interest in your new venture. It’s best to try and use as many free types of advertising in the beginning as you won’t have a big budget to spend on marketing but making some flyers or posters could be helpful.

Follow this advice and make sure that your start up gets off the ground.