Roam Free in IT: Plenty of Non-Desk Jobs for the Tech-Savvy

Chained to my desk

A fairly common misconception about working in information technology (IT) is that it entails sitting at a desk for long hours at a time and staring at a computer screen all day. While there is a kernel of truth to this, given the fact that a field focused on technology will necessarily include some of those characteristics, this misconception is both exaggerated and erroneous.


There are many disciplines and professions within IT that involve a fairly robust degree of movement and non-computer-based desk work. Let's take a look at seven promising professions within IT that will not keep you chained to a desk from 9 to 5.


Small Business IT Consultant — IT has permeated virtually every sector of the economy; almost all businesses, from large multinational corporations to small- and medium-sized companies have a need for technology and IT services to maximize their profitability and efficiency. As such, the demand for IT savvy individuals offering consulting services to small businesses has never been greater.


As a small business IT consultant, you will be expected to fulfill a wide variety of tasks away from any desks or computer screens. You will frequently be attending meetings, or hosting IT solutions workshops, or seeking out new clients — all non-desk-based work activates.


To become a small business IT consultant, you'll generally need to develop a highly specialized expertise in one or more IT services that businesses usually seek out. These typically include services such as vendor management system implementation, network security improvement, and managed enterprise solutions implementation and support, among many others.


IT Field Technician — IT field technicians travel to organizations and companies to help diagnose and repair IT-related problems. Often, IT field technicians are expected to travel to companies in remote locations and, as a result, can spend a significant time away from any desks or computers.


Common tasks IT field technicians are expected to complete include maintaining and repairing equipment, installing software and hardware, providing on-site technical support, and configuring computer networks. While there are many sub-specialities a prospective IT field technician can choose to master, virtually all such individual, will, at a minimum, have their CompTIA A+ credential.


Telecommunications Engineer — Telecom engineers specialize in providing communications and information transfer solutions. While telecommunications engineering is a broad field that does involve a decent amount of computer-based work, many of the tasks required of these professionals are highly physical in nature — physical network wiring, design, and implementation, are just a few of the tasks one will be called on to perform. System Administrator — System administrators are responsible for the maintenance, performance, and improvement of computer systems and are typically employed by large organizations such as universities or school boards, as well as larger businesses.


Because the core responsibility of a system administrator centers around ensuring that that the users of a particular network are able to easily and efficiently access and use it, much of their job involves in-person IT work such as installing computer components and software or providing on-site computer troubleshooting and repair services. Furthermore, a key component of any system administrator's job is training and providing support to the users of a given computer network.


Most system administrators possess a degree or some college experience in computer science, information technology, electrical engineering, or computer engineering as well as one or more certifications depending on the specific type of systems they are administrating (database, network, security, etc.).


Project manager in well lit presentation room

Sales Engineer — Sales engineers sell high-end technological products and services to businesses and organizations. Sales is typically thought of as a non-IT profession, but the caliber and complexity of IT products and services being offered, along with understanding the IT needs of their customers, requires sales engineers to possess extensive technical knowledge of the of the product or service they are selling.


Sales engineers are responsible for everything from delivering presentations and providing on-site product support to maintaining customer satisfaction and, as such, spend a lot of time away from any desks or computers.


IT Project Management — The scope and importance of what IT project managers are expected to do means that this job entails significantly more than sitting behind a desk and computer all day.


IT project management involves a high level of interpersonal work. A project manager's days are typically filled with staff recruitment, maintaining a team's technical knowledge through hosting workshops and presentations, timeline communication, team coordination, and organization optimization.


Thus, while an IT project manager's role will necessarily involve a significant amount of IT work, the project management side of the job involves a high level of non-desk-based work that is above all, people- and product-oriented in nature.


Technical Operations Manager — Technical operations managers lead technical departments of large businesses and organizations. The position typically entails three key responsibilities: planning and implementing an organization's technical processes from start to finish, coordinating and managing all technical staff, and meeting an organization's technical needs and goals. As such, technical operations managers spend a lot of time working face-to-face with their technical team, outside clients, and members from other departments.


While much of their work is rooted in IT, technical operations managers are typically responsible for more "big picture" IT co-ordination and implementation that affects the company or organization as a whole, and they end up spending much of their time away from desks and computers.


Free Your Mind (and Body)


Many professions and sub-disciplines within IT necessarily involve long hours sitting at a desk and behind a computer. Tech work is becoming increasingly diverse, however, as the IT needs of individuals, businesses, and organization continue to become more complex


An increasing number of IT jobs and accompanying responsibilities are evolving with more positions now requiring extensive amounts of interpersonal and on-site work. So if you're skilled in IT and tired of sitting at your desk all day, take some time and explore the many options you have to put your IT knowledge to work away from a desk or computer.


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About the Author
Nenad Dumanovic NEW

Nenad Dumanovic is the founder and principal of Impressify, a PR company that specializes in delivering PR, content marketing, and business writing services for startups, entrepreneurs, and not-for-profits. He is editor-in-chief of Konstantine News, a digital politics magazine launching in April 2016.