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How to Become an IT Consultant: The Simplest Guide

From school to college to getting a job, here’s the first guide you should read on how to become an IT consultant, written by an IT consultant with 15+ years experience.

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How to Become an IT Consultant/ IT Professional

IT consultants work for information technology companies. Their job is to be responsible for all software requirements of their clients, including getting new business, capturing requirements, design, build, test and release it into the market.

If you ask how to become an IT consultant, the simple answer would be to join IT/electronics & communication program in an engineering college. To get admission, take up science or non-medical stream after 10th (physics, chemistry, maths), which is required to sit for engineering entrance exams. Admission in a good college depends on getting a good rank in these entrance exam, and they are quite competitive. Once you graduate college, you can either try to get a job in an IT company or go for MBA in Telecom. Read on to know more.

Contents: Jump to Section

1.1 Courses Taken
1.2 Entrance Exams
1.3 Academic Qualifications/ Options
1.4 License Required
1.5 Internship/ Work Experience Required
1.6 Cost of Tuition and Training
1.7 Competition
1.8 General Age to Start Professional Career for IT Consultants
1.9 Governing Bodies
2.1 Specializations/ Sub-Professions
2.2 Companies & Institutions That Employ IT Consultants
2.3 Growth Prospects
2.4 Entrepreneurship Opportunities
2.5 Salary Range
3.1 Top Universities in India
3.2 Top Universities in World
3.3 Famous Personalities
3.4 Useful Links


1. Becoming an IT Consultant

1.1.1 Courses Taken at School

Maths, physics, chemistry, English, computer.

A science (or non-med) stream is required in 11th and 12th, which includes the PCM (physics, chemistry, maths) in addition to English and computers.

1.1.2 Courses/ Subjects Taken at College

There are many college-level courses to take, depending on which branch of engineering you take.

For IT, some of the subjects include:

Applied Mathematics, Digital Systems, Programming Languages, Software Engineering, Communication Engineering, Web Designing, Computation, Data Structures, etc.

1.2 Entrance Exams

JEE mains for IITs, Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) for others for undergrad college.
CAT for IIMs, SNAP, XAT, MAT, etc. for masters in Indian universities.
GRE, GMAT for US universities.

Most good engineering and MBA/MS colleges require to clear entrance exams. In Indian context, you need to clear JEE mains, JEE Advanced for Engineering. For other engineering colleges, GATE is required. Some other engineering colleges may require other entrance exams.

For MBA, you need to clear CAT for all IIMs, SNAP test for all Symbiosis colleges and individual exams for may top B-schools such as XAT, MAT etc.

If you’d like to go abroad for master’s, enrolment for MS in the US will require you to clear GRE. An MBA there requires GMAT.

1.3.1 Academic Qualifications/ Degree Required

Bachelor of Technology/ Bachelor of Engineering (B.Tech/B.E.)

In IT jobs, there can be broadly two types of profiles – technical or non-technical.

Profiles that are too technical, such as Systems Analyst, Technology Analyst or Solutions Architect, would require a degree in IT engineering, computer science or electronics, with masters degree (MS) in Computer Science or MCA.

Other than engineering, a computer degree such as a Bachelors in Computer Applications (BCA) (3 years course) is also possible before your masters. However, engineers are preferred by IT companies.

For my kind of profile, which is a Consultant, college graduates with specialization in systems in MBA are preferred.

1.3.2 Post-Graduate Degree Requirements/ Options

Master of Computer Applications (MCA)
Masters in Business Administration (MBA)

A masters degree is very beneficial in the IT industry, especially in getting good entry-level profiles and good salaries. Bachelor’s degree alone is less preferred over those who have a master’s degree as well.

Engineering (B.Tech or B.E) + MBA still remains the default choice. You can be any other graduate with MBA also. MCA is also preferred.

1.4 License Required

No

1.5 Internship/ Work Experience Required

It is highly desirable to do an internship in an IT company while you are pursuing your graduation or post-graduation, as it will be a highlight in your CV. This will help you secure a job more easily after your graduation. It’ll give the interviewer some confidence that you have been exposed to the IT environment.

Internships are typically done in summer holidays, usually for 3 months between 3rd and 4th year of college. Students need to be proactive to find internship opportunities, since it has to be done through networking or contacts.

1.6 Cost of Tuition and Training

For B.Tech and B.E, approximate fees at NITs is around INR 5 lacs for a 4 year course, which excludes hostel fees. Total spend should be around INR 7-8 lacs, including hostel.

Aspirants should note that there is a vast difference in tuition in private and government engineering colleges. Good private engineering colleges have fees of about 3 lacs per year for a 4 year course, which makes a total of about 12 lacs, excluding hostel.

For MBA, top colleges charge anywhere between 5-8 lacs for a 2 year course, excluding hostel. Total spend will be around 10-12 lacs.

1.7 Competition

Highly competitive.

Competition mostly depends on the ranking of college. Getting into IITs and government colleges is quite tough I would say, as the competition level is increasing every year. Try to get into a good graduate school and a top B-school for your chances to be picked up during campus placements. The top IT companies only visit the top colleges for placements, which offer the best salaries.

Start your preparations early for the entrance exams. For B.Tech, you should start as early as in 10th grade and for MBA/MS, as early as 3rd year of a 4 year graduation or 2nd year of a 3 year graduation.

Getting a good job can also be competitive, since the number of IT professionals in India is quite high. However, if you graduate from one of the top colleges, it should be fairly easy to land an entry-level job through college placement.

1.8 General Age to Start Professional Career for IT Consulting

22-25, depending on your education.

Some people start as soon as they are done with their graduation, around the age of 22. Some people prefer to gain some experience (2-3 years), pursue post graduate degree and then resume the professional career. And some others (like me) prefer to complete all the courses and then get into profession. That would be somewhere in the age of 24-25.

1.9 Governing Bodies

There are no governing bodies, but there are forums and consortiums, which lay out the industry’s best practices. Top IT companies are members of such forums as it gives them credibility. One example is the Tele Management Forum.

2. Professional Opportunities/ Career Growth for IT Professionals

2.1 Specializations/ Sub-Professions

Here are some of the sub-professions within the IT Profession:

Systems Analyst, Technology Analyst, Project Manager, Consultant, Solution Architect, Delivery Manager.

2.2 Companies & Institutions that Employ IT Professionals

IT services companies e.g. Infosys, TCS, Wipro, Tech Mahindra, Cognizant.

IT product companies e.g. Oracle, SAP, Adobe, Google, Microsoft.

Telecom service providers – Airtel, Reliance, Verizon, Vodafone.

2.3 Growth Prospects

Growth in IT industry, like many other industries, primarily depends on the experience and role maturity. Promotions from entry level up to middle management level are relatively quicker. After that, promotions depend on many factors.

Technical knowledge and analytical skills are required for growth during entry level positions. Soft skills, leadership skills, interpersonal and social skills are required at middle and top management positions for growth.

The growth opportunities include rising up the corporate ladder in the IT companies. The senior management roles in IT companies include  Delivery Manager, Senior Delivery Manager, AVP, Unit Head, Practice Head, VP.

In technical stream, these include Principal Technology Architect, Senior PTA, which typically take 15 years of experience to reach. Similarly, in consulting stream, senior management positions are Industry Principal and Senior Industry Principal.

2.4 Entrepreneurship Opportunities

I have seen many of my colleagues starting their own IT firms. If you have a good hold of your area of expertise and have entrepreneurial, marketing and management skills, as well as good contacts with potential customers and professional who can work for/with you, then all you need is a funding to start your own IT company.

2.5 Salary Range

Campus placement into an IT company from a top B-school can fetch you anywhere around 10-20 lacs per annum. Graduates alone can earn somewhere in the range of 6-10 lacs at entry level.

3. Further Resources

3.1 Top Universities in India

B.Tech – All IITs, All NITs

MBA – All IIMs, SPJIMR, SCMHRD, NMIMS, JBIMS, XLRI

3.2 Top Universities in World

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Stanford University
University of Oxford
California Institute of Technology
University of California, Berkeley
Imperial College, London
National University of Singapore (NUS)

3.3 Famous Personalities

Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Narayana Murthy, Nandan Nilekani, Azim Premji, Bill Gates, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Jack Ma, Elon Musk.

3.4 Useful Links

CIO.com
Fast Company
TM Forum

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