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The Digital Roles You Never Knew Existed (And Where You Can Get ‘Em)

· Ali Turner · Discussion

Special effects artists, game scriptwriters & AI experts – oh my!


Leeds City Region has one of the fastest growing tech sectors in the UK, which means there’s a huge demand for local talent. Discover Digital helps and supports people who want to move into the industry. Find out more...

Ever pondered a career in tech? You might be surprised by the jobs on offer…

When you think of tech jobs, software engineers inevitably spring to mind, but that’s not the only role that’s up for grabs. These days, you’ll find all kinds of weird and wonderful opportunities in the tech industry. From football traders to ethical hackers and drone pilots, the possibilities are endless – and they’re not all as geeky as you might think. Nor are they restricted to the capital. You can build a great career, right here in Leeds City Region.

Games Scriptwriter – shape the video games of the future

When you think of scriptwriters, you probably think of the movies – but they’re just as important to the games industry. From Grand Theft Auto to Max Payne 3, they’ve all been created by a team of talented writers who develop the stories and characters from concept to completion.

Rockstar Games is famous for the quality of its scripts, and they have an office right here in Leeds, but that’s not the only high profile gaming company in the region. Laser Dog Games and Cooperative Innovations also call Leeds home, while Red Kite Games and Ocean Spark Studios have set up shop in Huddersfield. And that’s not all. Team17 works out of Wakefield and Revolution Software has its base in York.

IPA Consultant – take artificial intelligence to the next level


Credit: BJSS

AI is a game-changer. It’s being used on everything from data analytics to customer services, but this role goes one step further. Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) brings together artificial intelligence and robotic process automation to remove repetitive, routine tasks and improve efficiency.

It’s a relatively new field, but BJSS are already on it. They have their own team of IPA Consultants whose sole purpose is to harness the power of automation. From identifying pain points to working out ROI and laying out success metrics, they help clients navigate the labyrinth of IPA. The possibilities here are endless – in theory, you could build a completely virtual workforce, increasing velocity, productivity and quality at the same time.

Drone Pilot – take your photography to new heights

Drone Pilot

Drones have made it possible for us to see the world from a whole new angle – but they don’t fly themselves, so how would you like to be a drone pilot? This is not your usual ‘tech job’ – instead of being trapped behind a desk, you’ll travel all over the UK shooting in unique locations.

Most drone pilots are self-employed, like Andy Parkin from Drone Earth, “I cover all roles, from marketing and development to flight planning and post-production editing,” he told us. “The work is extremely varied, one day I can be photographing aerial video for commercial property, the next it could be an aerial inspection for a conservation project.” You have to have a PfCO (Permission for Commercial Operations) to operate a drone commercially, which means you’ll need to get your head in the books, enrol in a ground course and pass both your exams and your flight assessment. Once you’ve done that though, you’re free to take to the skies.

Football Trader – watch footie & work out the odds

Sky Betting & Gaming

Credit: Ben Buffone at Wiser

Football obsessed? This is your dream job. Nestled in a corner of the Sky Betting & Gaming office are the Football Traders, an elite squad of tech-savvy analysts who turn data into odds.

These guys can make your wildest betting dreams a reality – they’ve got reams of data on player performance, past games and real-time matches at their fingertips, and coupled with a deep statistical knowledge of the game, they can estimate the likelihood of any given outcome. And yes, they really do get to watch football all day.

Software Tester – get paid to be pernickety


Software engineers are the bread and butter of the tech world. They make the apps and websites we use every day – but behind every good software engineer is a tester checking their work. From full product launches to tiny releases, they’ll test the entire system to catch any bugs or vulnerabilities – and their role has never been more important.

“Nowadays, if your app doesn’t delight the customer, or worse still, disappoints them, you’ll lose them,” Jenny Briant, Head of Academy Recruitment at Ten10, told us. “If it doesn’t work after an OS release, doesn’t recover after it loses the network connection or chews through your battery, all that hard work to design and develop the best app on the market is in vain.” It may be little known, but there’s huge demand for this role and you can really move up in the ranks, moving from software tester at companies like IBM or Virtual College to testing lead at Equifax.

Special Effects Artists – wow the crowds with everything from waterfalls to pyrotechnics

It’s not something that you naturally think of, but there are few careers as technically challenging as the good old special effects artist. From wind and rain to fire, smoke and full-on explosions, this is your chance to create awe-inspiring visuals that will go down in television history. And with Leeds in the running to become Channel 4’s new National HQ, there could be even more demand for this kind of role in the coming years.

A lot of special effects artists are freelance, like Steven Langfield at Suzi Digital. He’s based in Wakefield, but his work has taken him all over the UK – in fact, you’ve probably seen it on Eastenders, Hollyoaks and Emmerdale. He’s safely set actors’ arms on fire, created challenges for The Crystal Maze and orchestrated huge explosions with Event Horizon, the people behind the big bangs on Star Wars and James Bond. Needless to say, this is a very varied role and one you will never tire of.

Community Manager – make a career from networking


Credit: Elmwood

Just because it’s the tech sector doesn’t mean you have to be a techy. In fact, old fashion skills like networking and mingling are just as important – especially if you’re a community manager. For once, we’re not talking about online communities, these people go out into the digital community and build real-world relationships.

Take Elmwood for example. They have a community manager running LaunchPod, their 12-week accelerator programme. It’s their job to find and onboard local start-ups, but it doesn’t end there – they also have to liaise with regional, national and international experts to give those start-ups the best chance of success. These roles aren’t as rare as you might think – you’ll also find them at organisations like Tech Nation and Leeds Beckett University, so if you’re good with people, you can make good in the tech industry.

Ethical Hackers – break into IT systems to keep them safe

Sky Betting & Gaming

Credit: Zoanne Garner

These days, hackers are all over the headlines. From Superdrug to Uber, we’ve seen them steal data, leak confidential information and cause utter chaos to consumers and companies alike. But while they may want to break in, behind the scenes, their good-guy alter-egos are working just as hard to keep them out.

The ethical hackers, or white hats if you prefer, use their computer wizardry for good – they spend their days trying to hack into systems to uncover bugs and vulnerabilities, but rather than exploiting them, they help fix them. Nowadays, anyone with a computer and an internet connection can become a hacker, so demand for cyber security experts is higher than ever, with roles available in dedicated companies, like Precursor Securities, or large corporates like Plexus and Sky Betting & Gaming.

Festival Director – plan a big old tech shindig

National Science and Media Museum, Yorkshire Games Festival

Tech has wangled its way into every corner of our lives, so it stands to reason that it’s also found its way into every possible career path. Journalists, PR executives, event organisers – whatever you want to do, you can now specialise in tech. And because the tech community is so vibrant, you could even put together a festival.

Take the games industry for example. Over 9% of the UK’s developers are based in Yorkshire and the Humber, so there’s a vibrant community here, and it’s supported by the Yorkshire Games Festival at the National Science & Media Museum in Bradford. Every year, Kathryn Penny, their Festival Director, brings together industry experts, games journalists and developers for 5 days of conferences and activities to inspire the next generation of games makers. And that’s just one of the major tech events that take place in the city, so there are loads of opportunities here.

Beer Buyer – that’s right, you could buy beer for a living

Beer Hawk

Have you ever heard of Beer Hawk? It’s a website that’s totally obsessed with beer – they sell over 1,000 brews from all over the world, whip them up into hand-picked cases and deliver them to your door. There’s no doubt this is a tech business, but they have some very unconventional roles, which just goes to prove that you don’t have to be a techie to work in the industry.

Take their beer buyers for example. They’re based in their Wetherby HQ, but they spend their days visiting the best breweries in the world to try their beers and negotiate a great deal for their customers. “Our buyers are responsible for maintaining and growing Beer Hawk’s huge collection of craft and speciality beer. Their expertly trained palates decide what beers we stock and although it might involve a spreadsheet or Magento from time to time, it’s mostly beer, beer and more beer,” Beer Hawk’s Ellie Gittings told us.

Want to get into tech? Find out what’s out there, where you could work and how to get your foot in the door…