What's Stopping You From Getting an IT Career?
There's no denying that the IT industry is one of the world's most prominent sectors. It's an industry that encompasses dozens of niches, and in the United States alone, there are over three million IT workers, despite economic woes and, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic.
You're likely reading this article today because you are seriously considering gaining a career in IT or “Information Technology” to give its official title. There are some must-haves you will need to progress within the industry; they are as follows:
Previous Professional Work Experience
While it's possible to form a new IT career if you've just finished high school or college, IT employers often look at people with previous professional work experience elsewhere. Why? The answer is simple: they look for transferable skills.
As you can appreciate, a lot of IT roles require some degree of problem-solving and project management. If you've gained such skills working for employers in other industries, you can usually transfer those skills to IT industry roles with ease.
Employers like to see that prospective candidates can demonstrate a good track record for resolving issues, taking charge of problems, and working together with other team members. The following is a non-exhaustive list of common transferable skills useful in IT:
- Problem Solving;
- Project Management;
- Analytical Reasoning;
- Critical Thinking.
Qualifications and Certifications
As you might expect, if you're planning to target senior or management positions within an IT company, one of the prerequisites you will need is some qualifications. At present, there is some debate about whether IT-specific qualifications and certifications are helpful or not.
Some employers would rather prospective candidates demonstrate knowledge and expertise through previous work experience rather than stuff they've learned in a classroom environment.
Others suggest a person's ability to pass a set of strict examinations means they have the technical prowess to carry out specific roles. Of course, that explanation doesn't really help you much when figuring out which qualifications, if any, you need.
If you're new to the job market, you could work your way up the career ladder by starting in a junior role, or you could study for what you perceive are the right qualifications. The downside to studying is that it could potentially take you several years before you qualify.
You could always get a fake diploma if you wanted to accelerate your progress! However, some employers offer “study while you earn” placements for people new to IT, so you could potentially gain a qualification the conventional way while gaining practical work experience.
Certification providers like CompTIA let you learn at your own pace, meaning you can work (in IT or your existing industry) while you study at home in your spare time. You'll then only need to take some time off to do in-person examinations to qualify for your certification.
As you have gathered, there are several ways to achieve qualifications and certifications in the IT industry. You just need to consider which ones are right for you and your needs.
It's easy to say that you want to start a career in the IT industry and move up through the ranks, ultimately ending up in a senior position. The thing is, what exactly do you want to do in IT?
As you can appreciate, the IT industry is vast, and the term “IT” is very broad. For example, do you want a job where you manage IT projects for an employer's clients? Or, would you prefer a development role, programming the next Facebook, for instance?
Plus, do you want to remain within that role once you get your ideal job, or would you prefer to progress to a senior management position eventually? Maybe you might have aspirations of eventually running your own IT company once you have relevant experience and skills?
Those are just a few of many questions to ask yourself when considering your IT career objectives. You can't just tell people you “want an IT job”; you need to think about where within the industry you'd like to start and where you eventually want to end up!
Some people fail to forge a new career within the IT industry because they lack the confidence to do so. Let's face it: starting a new career or side-stepping into a different one will feel like an alien concept to many people.
The idea of heading into uncharted waters, so to speak, can fill many individuals with dread and can be disturbing enough to stop those people from pursuing such a career move. If you lack the confidence to start a career in IT, what should you do?
Should you give up and stick with what you're doing right now, or should you get out of your “comfort zone” and give something completely different like IT a try? Ultimately, the only person that can answer that question is you.
One thing to keep in mind is that, before you consider discounting a move to the IT industry, spend some time gauging the opinions of people already working in the industry, especially within the IT niche or sector that interests you.
Doing so will help you make a considered and informed decision. Plus, you might find your low self-confidence for making such a move could be down to a misinformed view, perhaps raised by someone that doesn't even (or hasn't) worked in the industry.
Lastly, one of the surprising facts about the IT industry is how many people seemingly rise through the ranks with little to no ‘proper' qualifications and certifications. Why? The answer is simple: sheer determination.
If you're determined to make something work, you'll find a way of achieving your goals. A lack of qualifications or certifications doesn't necessarily mean you won't get the top jobs you aim for in the future.
As mentioned earlier, some IT employers prefer to hire people based on their skills and experience rather than an official document from a well-known college or industry body.