New Entrants

Reasons you should consider a career in IT

Salaries are higher

The salary for someone working in IT in Northern Ireland is on average 61% higher than other industries.

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    The average salary for a programmer is £40,519.
    The average salary in Northern Ireland £24,601.

There are lots of jobs available and this is continuing to grow

There is currently a demand for a range of IT related jobs in Northern Ireland at the moment. This trend is forecasted to continue in the future and its grown by 32% in the last five years.

career pathways into the IT industry, Keith Hegarty Sopra Steria

Thrive as part of a team

IT careers typically require you to work as part of a team of enthusiastic likeminded people who share ideas and help to develop each other’s skills.

careers information, advice and guidance Claire Brennan, analyst

Relaxed and informal working environment

Many IT industry employers provide informal working environments which are designed to make employees feel motivated and comfortable and help them to get the best from themselves.

IT Career, Nicholle Murchan, Belfast, Citi, Apprenticeship

Opportunity to work in many different industries

A career in IT will typically provide the opportunity to work on projects from a range of different industries thus providing a varied and exciting working experience.

IT Career, David Irvine, apprentice Fujitsu

Many different career paths

The IT industry offers many different roles and career paths which appeal to a wide range of skills and interests from coding to graphic design to IT consulting.

IT career, Melissa Boyle, Tomorrow Lab, University of Ulster, Client Relations, Belfast

Enjoy the opportunities to keep learning

The IT industry changes at a rapid pace and therefore employees in the sector are continuously learning and developing.

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    Employers in the industry are therefore committed to provide ongoing learning opportunities for their employees.

IT Career, Kainos

Explore your creative side

Many jobs within IT require employees to be creative and come up with new ideas and new ways of working and new products and services. It is a fantastic industry to maximise your creative side.

IT Career

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How do I get there?

Select the category which is suitable to you to find out more information on how to gain an education in IT or which employment opportunities are out there for you.

IT Career, Katie Quinn, Fujitsu

Choosing GCSEs

Choosing GSCEs –

  • Maths grade B may be a prerequisite for some course/employment options.
  • English Language is required.
  • ICT maybe required but not essential.

Achieving GCSEs or equivalent, the next step, choosing Level 3 Routes

Achieving GCSEs or equivalent, the next step, choosing Level 3 Routes –

  • A Levels – any subjects but Maths is a preferred subject.
  • BTEC Diploma (1.5 A Levels) in a range of subjects including: Broad based IT, Games Development, Creative Media Production, Software Development. Networking and IT Infrastructure.
  • BTEC Extended Diploma (3 A Levels) subjects as above
  • OCR Level 2 diploma in IT.

Post ‘A’ Levels and other Level 3 Qualifications


  • Full Time Degree in IT related subject.
  • Part Time Degree Course in IT Related subject.
  • Foundation Degree/HND in IT related subject
  • Level 3 Apprenticeship

Higher Level Apprenticeship in an IT subject

Higher Level Apprenticeships (HLAS) offer on-the-job training and off-the-job learning at higher levels, including Foundation Degrees (Level 4-5), Honours Degrees (Level 6), and post-graduate awards (Level 7-8).


An apprenticeship can give you the training and qualifications you need to help you get ahead in your chosen career. Level 2 and Level 3 apprenticeships and the qualifications for each are set out in what is known as a framework.

Benefits to Apprentices

By taking part in a Higher Level Apprenticeship, you can gain the skills that employers need and that are relevant to the local economy, therefore improving your prospects of good earnings and sustained employment.

Other benefits include:

  • learning while you earn
  • gaining a recognised qualification
  • receiving off-the-job training specific to your apprenticeship
  • working alongside experienced staff

Apprenticeship qualifications


Apprenticeships are currently available at Level 2 and/ or Level 3, as well as Higher Level Apprenticeships from Level 4 upwards.

Level 2 is the first level and the one that most new apprentices choose.

You can either progress from Level 2 to Level 3 or go straight in at Level 3, depending on your ability and the qualifications you already have.

It usually takes up to two years to complete one level and up to four years to finish the two levels depending on their complexity and your ability.

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Higher Level Apprenticeship case study

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Graduate employment from IT and non IT related Degrees.

  • Master’s conversion course in IT subject.
  • Master’s Degree in an IT related subject.
  • IT related Assured Skills Academy

What is the Assured Skills programme?

The Assured Skills programme is a joint programme between the Department for the Economy (DfE) Northern Ireland and Invest Northern Ireland. It has been in existence since 2010/11 and since then, has promoted a total of 5,371 jobs. Once all jobs have been realised it will create an additional £141m into the Northern Ireland economy.
The Assured Skills programme seeks to assure potential investors, and existing employers considering expansion, that the skills they need to support a growing business can be found in Northern Ireland. It does this by employing all of DfE’s responsibilities for the higher and further education sectors and the Department’s skills and training programmes.

The Assured Skills Academy Model

Under the Assured Skills “Academy Model”, where a company or a consortium of companies have an identified skills need, DfE will consider developing a bespoke short-term training intervention to meet that need.

This typically involves an eight to ten week bespoke pre-employment training programme delivered by a local college or university. The intervention is designed to lower the recruitment risk for companies by providing candidates trained with the exact skills for the opportunities that are available.

The Academy Model is flexible and versatile, and has been used to help companies recruit new staff in areas such as:

  • data analytics
  • software development
  • software engineering
  • software testing
  • cyber security
  • 2D animation
  • game development

How the Academy Model helps candidates

If you are unemployed, under-employed, a school leaver, a graduate or have experience and would like to change direction in your career, then the innovative Academy Model may be what you are looking for. The Academy Model will support you into employment by providing the skills that expanding companies want.

The vast majority of Academy programmes have been aimed at providing graduate level opportunities for unemployed graduates.

Your existing qualifications are important but, whatever your vocational area, the companies the Department work with want employees with the drive and determination to succeed, and a positive attitude to take on new challenges.

A Great Choice

The Academies have an 90 per cent success rate of participants progressing into full time employment.

Previous participants continue to recommend Assured Skills Academies as great opportunities to develop skills and start new careers.

Candidates’ overview video

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Where to find the Academies

Current academies are advertised in local newspapers and online resources including jobcentreonline, nidirect, nijobs, recruitni and social media.

For more information see the video below or click the link the Department of Economy Assured Skills:

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Employer Support

Find out which companies offer sponsorship programmes
See Employer Support

Job Roles in IT

What IT role would suit you?
See Job Roles

Career Planning

Discover how to plan your career
Career Planning