7 Characteristics of Successful IT Professionals

by Daniel Margolis | Oct 24, 2016

Knowing technology is an essential first step to a career in IT, but to truly excel, it helps to build these seven personality traits into how you approach the industry and plot your path through it. A successful IT professional generally…

1. Has a passion for technology and problem solving.

characteristic one

A born IT pro is in love with tech, both past and present – drooling over the latest in everything while feeling a pang of nostalgia at the sight of a zip disc drive. To a techie, a malfunction isn’t a headache; it’s a chance to shine.

2. Knows data and how to manage it.

characteristic two

While to ordinary people, the size of the files they juggle and the speed at which they navigate the Internet may be somewhat mysterious, to techies, it’s as basic as knowing your way around your own neighborhood.

3. Is versatile.

characteristic three

A successful IT pro surely has a niche. But just as all Marines are riflemen, all IT pros are tech support. They may specialize in cloud security, or big data management, or website design, but in a pinch they can tackle any tech problem.

4. Sees how tech and lines of business intersect.

characteristic four

The concept of a techie unaware of the value of what he or she does is as dated as Jimmy Fallon’s SNL character “Nick Burns, Your Company’s Computer Guy.” Today’s IT pro is as comfortable in the boardroom as the server room.

5. Can ​describe tech concepts in general terms.

characteristic five

No question IT professionals speak in their own language, but successful ones can slow down and explain a problem and its solution in terms anyone can understand – and even get excited about doing so.

6. Never stops learning, certifying and imparting knowledge.

characteristic six

Successful IT pros establish a solid foundation for their IT knowledge with certifications like CompTIA A+, and then spend a lifetime building on that knowledge and sharing it with others – perhaps even teaching it.

7. Stresses security and good housekeeping.

characteristic seven

IT pros don’t just want to take a byte out of cybercrime, they want to devour it entirely. That’s why they stress discipline. A successful IT pro knows the first line of defense in keeping his or her company secure and efficient is guarding against human error.


  • Alex

    Wednesday, April 6, 2016

    All Nice and good but what does really Matter? You would have to know the characteristics of unsuccesful IT workers to really find out what marters. If for example these unsuccesful People have all of these characteristics is this list still valid?

  • Evelyn

    Wednesday, October 26, 2016

    I agree with Alex. Have you considered his comment and replied to include your observation of the "unsuccessful. Not all the characteristics apply to me, so does that mean, I am not cut out for this line of work? Just getting started.

  • Aleksey

    Wednesday, October 26, 2016

    Evelyn, this is an authors opinion. In the beginning of the article it is clearly stated that "A successful IT professional generally…" has the listed characteristics (with emphasis on the generally). In my opinion what makes an IT pro successful/unsuccessful is how well they can work in a certain environment. For example you can be very good working for a law firm, but completely fall apart in a hospital environment. You can look at above characteristics as something to work towards if you want to be successful in all types of IT environments.

  • Rajendra Prasad

    Friday, November 4, 2016

    Excellent. It is a good lesson for all IT professional who want to be Omni present.

  • Ryan

    Thursday, December 15, 2016

    I like the overall article and what you lay out. I am new to the IT community and have only recently received my A+ certification. I'm finding it very difficult to even break into the profession as I'm only entry level and it seems everyone is looking for network +/security + and more. Do I need to go to go for network + next?

  • Friday, December 16, 2016

    Great question! I’m sorry to hear you’re having a hard time finding a job. CompTIA A+ certification is a great start for roles like technical support specialist, field service technician, IT support technician and IT support administrator. As for next steps, it really depends on what you want to do. If you haven’t already, check out our IT Certification Roadmap for inspiration: https://certification.comptia.org/docs/default-source/downloadablefiles/it-certification-roadmap.pdf?sfvrsn=2. CompTIA Network+ could open up more opportunities in a variety of fields, especially in cybersecurity, which is one of the fastest-growing IT functions. Good luck!

  • Kristin

    Friday, December 16, 2016

    Another valuable characteristic is fostering rapport with people you support, and working through challenges with them as much as the tech they are using. Many people need IT "therapy" more than quick fixes, and being patient and making sure the user is comfortable with the technology they're working with makes you much more valuable in the long term than just handing out quick tech fixes.

  • Levi

    Friday, December 16, 2016

    Lovely article. Definitely a must read. Love Aleksey, Rajendra and Kristin's comments.

  • Gary Moose

    Friday, December 16, 2016

    Robert Frost the famous poet said it best, "My object in living is to unite my occupation with my avocation so my two eyes see one in sight." That is to say you must love what you do and have a genuine interest in your chosen field. Mine happens to be IT and I love technology and figuring out the why's and how's things work the way they do. I really love how software works with hardware down to the bit level or low voltage and high voltage logic. Yes, certifications help you get noticed and show prospective employers that you understand under the hood but nothing replaces passion.

  • Mohammad Suhail.K.M

    Saturday, December 17, 2016

    Knowing technology in IT, it helps to build these seven personality traits into how you approach the industry and plot your path through it. A successful IT

  • Shawn H.

    Monday, December 19, 2016

    @ Ryan - as a person like yourself that has been chasing that dream job in technology for many years, and who happens to also be A+, Net+, and Sec+ certified, save yourself time and money and get a computer science degree. A job in 'technical support' amounts to being a baby-boomer babysitter, trying to teach those that care nothing about how or why they have a problem but just that they want it fixed, and now. Couple this with a remote support position (you're not at their location but walking them through steps to fix their own problem) and it is a nightmare. I wish I were more bureaucratic but I feel an obligation to let others know how to avoid my same mistakes. No Comptia cert will land you a job worth anything without the degree (oh, I have this too :/). Best wishes...

  • Tuesday, December 20, 2016

    ​You're right, Shawn. There are certainly two sides to the argument as to whether CompTIA certifications or a college degree (or a combination of the two) is the best path to an IT career. A lot of it, too, depends on the individual and the opportunities that come his or her way. This blog post from January highlights some of the things that set certifications apart from degrees: https://certification.comptia.org/it-career-news/post/view/2016/01/21/ten-reasons-a-degree-alone-is-no-longer-enough

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