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IT and technology

Postgraduate conversion courses: your route into a graduate career in IT?

No IT degree? That doesn’t have to stop you pursuing a career in IT. Graduates from non technical degrees can get technical skills and computing knowledge through a postgraduate IT conversion course.
Conversion graduates frequently display highly sought after traits.

Postgraduate IT conversion courses provide a grounding in the basics of IT and computing for graduates who haven’t studied computer science at degree level. They are typically a year-long taught masters course, although it is possible to do diplomas.

Why graduate employers like converts to IT

More often than not, the combination of the technology skills gained through a conversion masters and the general competences developed through a first degree in a different subject area gives graduate applicants a breadth of experience and a skills set that are very attractive to graduate employers in IT. Technologists need to possess strong people skills, business acumen and understand the diverse needs of IT users, as well as having a deep technical knowledge. Conversion graduates frequently display these highly sought after traits.

You can gain extra employer appeal by seeking out a course that will expose you to IT and computing in a commercial context through a placement or project work with an employer. At the very least, keep up to date with the latest technology developments in the industry, and link what you’re learning to what’s going on in the commercial world of IT.

Are you ready to take the postgraduate path to your career in IT?

To get the most out of a postgraduate conversion course you need to give some thought to what you want to do at the end of it. Conversion courses are intense. You’ll be mastering a completely new discipline in a relatively short time, so you need to be motivated.

Researching the IT business sector and listing the main employers that interest you is a good way to start. Take a close look at the different roles offered by graduate IT employers and identify which ones interest you. This will give you an idea of the skills and competencies you will need and it will help you to compare the content of postgraduate conversion courses so that you find the masters that suits your career aims.

Choosing the right IT conversion course

IT conversion courses vary in focus and content. An MSc in ‘computer science’ or ‘computing’ will typically cover core computing principles and be heavier on programming, development and networks.

An MSc in ‘information technology’ could focus more on building IT applications within business and society. Both types provide invaluable skills but one may be better suited to your career intentions than the other.

Look carefully at the content and key modules when comparing courses. While you’ll want to be challenged by your postgraduate studies, why struggle with loads of programming if that’s not your long-term IT interest?

Choosing the right place to convert

To maximise the benefits of converting to IT you also need to choose the right place to study. Different institutions will have different emphases and provide different learning environments, so you will need to decide what suits you best.

Visit the departments, and talk to students and staff – this is a good way to assess a course’s quality. Your conversion course is an investment in your future, so you need to find out how it will pay you back.

If your aim is to boost your employability, make sure you find out what previous students have gone on to do and in which areas of IT they typically found work.

Make sure you meet the requirements for the course you want to study

Check the minimum requirements of postgraduate conversion courses carefully. You need to make sure that your undergraduate degree will allow you entry onto the course and that your degree classification meets the minimum requirements. While many courses accept graduates from all disciplines, those that have a deeper technical element may only accept graduates coming from numerate or technical/scientific undergraduate degrees.

If you have any prior experience in computing or any IT-related work experience, mention this in your application along with the strength of your mathematical and analytical skills. This will help admissions tutors assess your suitability for the course.

Finding funding for postgraduate conversion courses

  • If you have already found a masters course that interests you, check what financial help may be available through the university or department, eg scholarships or bursaries. Make enquiries before or when you apply.
  • New government funding for postgraduates is available from August 2016. You may be eligible for a loan of up to £10,000. Find out more about repayment terms and eligibility at DirectGov.
  • Career development loans (CDL) are bank loans that are usually offered at a reduced interest rate. The government pays the interest while you're studying. Find out more at DirectGov but check the conditions and your eligibility for these loans carefully.
  • Visit your university’s careers service to find directories of funding organisations and more information on postgraduate study.
  • Start planning your postgraduate study as soon as possible to increase your chances of finding and securing funding.

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