With our lives becoming more connected and ever increasingly dependent on the internet, computers will always play a major role in every day modern society. There probably isn’t a single day you go without encountering a computer of some sorts whether it is an ATM, gas pump, digital billboard or even a traffic light. Having a career in computers can be both rewarding and challenging. the IT job market is ripe with opportunity with growth and development.
How can I get a job in the IT field? What are different jobs that are available? How can I get started? Do I need a college degree? I’ll help answer these questions and more below!
Why Information Technology?
The questions should be, why not? As stated before, our lives are becoming more dependent on technology and computers. The market, agriculture, energy, transportation, healthcare, national defense and more are all supported by the current IT infrastructure in place. Without the current technologic infrastructure in place, these industries would not be what they are today.
Taking a look at some of the maps below (provided from the Bureau of Labor Statistics) it is pretty obvious to see the demand for IT jobs as well as the rewarding salaries that they provide. You are also able to observe the different technologic centers and hubs where these jobs are most in demand. With recent developments in remote work, however, expect to see a massive shift in the location of many IT professionals throughout the world.
IT Career Roadmap
Showing an interest in the IT field is the first step to a successful career. Professionals in the industries want candidates who are motivated and inspired by their work and love what they do. Being passionate and driven is not enough by itself though.
Creating a roadmap, setting goals (long-term and short-term), and looking ahead are all great strategies to pave the way to the career that you want. To get an idea of what you want to do in the IT field, you need to look at available career options. See some of the jobs below to get a better idea of what paths there are to pursue. find out what it takes to get to those career paths.
SET A LONG TERM FUTURE GOAL
A good example would be “Get a job in IT”. If you are changing career fields, getting a new job in a different industry could be a very realistic goal to work towards. In order to reach this goal, we need to set milestones or some short term goals. The importance of setting short term goals cannot be overstated. Setting goals like reading a chapter in a book, learning a new skill/technology, passing a certification exam or completing a project are all examples of good short term goals that can be great milestones towards completing your longer goals. Another thing with goals is you want to set deadlines to accomplish them. This helps add pressure to make sure that an appropriate amount of time each day is being spent on working towards your goals.
One more thing about goals, they can change and they often do all the time. It is okay to not meet some of your goals, or to have deadlines shift. things you need to consider as red flags for yourself is when you start making too many goals, your goals are too unrealistic with respect to the deadline, your deadlines keep shifting continuously, or you aren’t meeting too many of your goals before you begin changing them.
Careers in the IT Job Market
The IT job market is diverse and fill of different career field that an individual can take. While a professional might start off in one field, because of the vast overlap in knowledge between the different fields, you will never be confined to one specific career path.
Below are a few different career fields that help get a better understanding of what the job market looks like
The networking field is concerned with designing, building and maintaining large scale networks of computers that can communicate with each other. Computer network are the backbone of the IT industry and without proper functioning networks, every other IT profession would be useless.
Programming is a field that deals with computer code and developing applications and programs that users deal with every day. Working in the programming field requires a high level of understanding how computer logic works in order to develop useful and efficient tools that can be used to perform a number of functions for the end-user.
Cybersecurity is a hot topic today with organizations consistently having their systems compromised by malicious hackers around the world. The information security sector is responsible for protecting the networks of many industries and the sensitive data that lies on them. Infosec professionals have to think like hackers in order to identify vulnerabilities and indicators of compromise and report them.
Computer Data Analytics
Data analysis is another often talked about subject in today’s age. With the number of computers and users increasing daily, so does the amount of data that we collect. Data analytics looks to take the raw data that we collect, structure it, observe trends and extract useful knowledge and insight.
To learn more about some of the specific jobs in the IT field, click on the link below:
I am going to say it right now, you do NOT need a college degree to get started working in the IT field. This industry is highly based on certifications and skills with only some jobs requiring a bachelor or masters degree. Once you know the field you are most interested in pursuing, the next thing you need to find out is what the level of education is required in order to hold a position in that field. In the IT industry there are jobs that require a degree and those that don’t. While having a bachelors degree is extremely useful and will absolutely increase your chances of landing the job that you want, working on a degree for 4 years just isn’t as valuable as someone with a certification and 4 years of experience.
Look at the job you want to get and do some research. Look at multiple job postings online. Does the job require a bachelors degree or are they looking for experience and certifications? Getting a Bachelors degree after starting your career is a perfect way to showcase your growth in the field and you have a much better chance of understanding and using the knowledge that you obtain in school.
Most of the IT industry is focused on the experience that you have rather than the education or degree you earned. Passing a certification exam is a quick and easy way to show that you have the basic level of knowledge to perform the tasks of a certain position in that field. this is why the IT industry loves certifications. Most certifications require 0 experience to obtains while others have prior experience requirement (although these are starting to go away).
Certifications tend to stack in 3 different levels of difficulty, Beginner (entry level), Intermediate, and Advanced. Another thing with certifications that needs to be understood is that the industry likes to look for certain types of certs that you can have. While the CASP+ offered by CompTIA and the CISSP offered by ISC2 are basically the same thing, the industry prefers and looks for the CISSP more. I do want to add that this is changing over time as some examinations are increasing in popularity while others are decreasing.
For more detailed information about certifications, check out the link below:
Market Yourself as a Professional
Marketing yourself is one of the most important things you can do in the field when looking for a job. Presenting yourself as a professional is extremely important in a sector that is looking for skilled and capable work.
Signup for LinkedIn
Having a LinkedIn profile is very important. Think of it like a social media profile version of your resume. All of the things you ran out of room for in your resume can all be included in here. there is room for more details about jobs performed, awards earned and education obtained. Having your LinkedIn setup before you search for jobs is so important especially with an increasing number of jobs asking for a link to your profile these days.
Creating a Personal Website/Webpage (Optional but HIGHLY recommended)
Having a personal website is not a common occurrence nor a requirement in the IT sector, however, as a professional (especially starting out) this is an easy way you can stand out from the competition. Your website should detail information about yourself, your passions, highlight areas of expertise, knowledge, experience and talk in greater detail about your ambitions in your career. this is your opportunity to truly wow the job you are applying for. With tools like WordPress and hosting options like AWS and Squarespace, it is easier than ever to have your website up and running on the internet for everyone to see.
Always Have Personal Business Cards on Hand
Another way to stand out is to have business cards on hand. This is actually more of a requirement than it is optional these days. You never know when you are going to run into someone who might be interested in your skills. This could be at the corner store, a bar, a social gathering or even on a train. Even if you aren’t looking for a new job, business cards are a way to exchange information easily and in a professional manner. You never know years down the road when this contact might be important. Your business card should have at a minimum your full name, email, and phone number as well as something to indicate what your profession or field you are into. You may also choose to add other info such as your LinkedIn, your personal website or maybe links to other sites such as GitHub, etc.
Find a Mentor
As technology progresses, so should you. You should neve be content with remaining stationary in your career. With new and emerging tech, there will always be an opportunity to learn something new. In fact, there is very little room for being stubborn in this industry at all. You need to exist at the same pace in which the sector operates.
One interesting thing about the IT field is that you may find yourself switching employers in order to get promotions and this is completely fine. If you feel you are personally ready for more responsibility and your employer does not have a position available, you should start looking elsewhere. You may also find yourself in the job of your dreams with no desire to advance or leave and that is also fine. Just remember that you should be completely content with what you are currently doing. The IT sector is all about innovation and looking for better more efficient ways to perform our job. You should always be willing to learn new technologies and furthering your skillset in order to guarantee your relevance in your career.