Computer and information technology is a thriving industry in the US. The number of jobs available is expected to rise by 13% between 2016 and 2026. This percentage represents a higher average than that of all other occupations.
It makes sense. After all, we’re living in an age of technology. The rise of computers in almost every other industry is fueling the demand for skilled IT workers. Clearly, now is as good a time as any to get into the field!
However, that might be easier said than done. Like any profession, there are always hurdles that stand in the way of being successful. Equally, as supply begins to meet demand, competition for sought after positions will increase too. Are you thinking about getting started in this profession? Before we look at how to do it, let’s start with why you might want to. Here are key reasons why it makes sense to go into the IT field:
You’re in Demand: We’ve already mentioned the impressive growth of IT occupations. The need for skilled workers is only going to increase.
This is as good a reason as any to go into the field. If you’re good at what you do, then top companies won’t want to let you go. And, even if they’re forced to, the need for your skills means you won’t struggle to find a new job. Few other professions benefit in the same way.
Equally, you might decide for a change somewhere down the line. You can leave your job in the comfort that you can acquire a new one elsewhere when you’re ready.
You Don’t Need a Degree: These days you don’t need a formal education to learn IT. Sure, it helps. And, for the majority of people getting a degree will be necessary to learn the ropes.
However, that’s far from obligatory. Indeed, people of all ages and backgrounds successfully teach themselves the necessary skill by virtue of passion for it. Increasing numbers of companies are employing individuals without a formal IT background.
Flexible Working Environments: IT isn’t restrictive. You don’t have to work in one particular field. Of course, you’re an IT professional. But the target of your skillset can be entirely different. You can work for giant corporations, tiny charities, health services, investment banks, media companies and so on.
Almost every other industry requires IT support these days. That means you can find yourself working in fascination, and altogether different environments at any given time.
It’s Well-Paid: Let’s face it, most people want to earn a good living from their work. Life shouldn’t necessarily be about money. But it inevitably helps in all manner of ways.
The particular field in which you find yourself will make a difference. For instance, you’re more likely to earn higher sums for an investment back than you are for a small-scale charity. That said, IT careers are renowned for being higher paid compared to other industries. Even first jobs out of college usually pay a higher average salary than others.
Now let’s move onto how to make a career in IT happen:
- Get a Degree
Okay, we literally just mentioned how you don’t need a degree to get started in IT. And you don’t. However, it can help if you have one. Many employers will prefer to hire people with higher education. They may even pay you more for it as a result.
That said, you don’t necessarily require an IT-specific degree. Indeed, degrees in other fields can complement your IT skills nicely, depending on the exact field you end up in. For example, imagine earning a degree in marketing. This may be seen as a particular advantage when applying for IT positions in this industry.
- Learn How to Code
Coding is a fundamental skill in IT. You won’t get far without a solid understanding of at least one coding language. It would be like a builder applying for jobs without having any tools at their disposal.
Teach yourself to code, or seek help from external sources. Indeed, this can be a particular advantage to getting an IT degree. You’re sure to cover coding as part of it. Start with HTML as a basic coding language. From there, look to enhance your skill set by venturing into additional languages, such as Python.
- Consider Your Options
Goal-setting is always an important step in the pursuit of success.The same is true here. Almost everything worthwhile starts with knowing what you want to happen. In IT terms, that can mean honing in on the specific field you’re interested in. Remember, the profession is huge and you can enter all sorts of areas.
Take the time to assess your options. Consider your specific interests and where your skills might be best applied. Think about your aspirations. Do you want to make lots of money? Do you want to spend your time in creative endeavors? Do you want to contribute to a worthy cause? And so on.
Answering questions such as these will help channel you into a suitable area of IT.
- Create a Solid Resume
Here’s a step that isn’t necessarily specific to IT. However, it’s still worth mentioning. After all, the resume can make or break any job application. Get it right and you’ll spark an employer’s interest. Get it wrong and you’ll find your way to the rejection pile before you even get started.
Look at the experience you have. Look at what you know and what you’ve done. Reflect on your qualifications and how they relate to the jobs you’re applying for. Think about how your personality and character could be an asset as well. Then get it all down into a concise, descriptive, persuasive resume.
Here are some top resume writing tips to help out.
- Get Some Additional Qualifications
Your resume might look a little bare! That’s totally normal for beginners just starting out in any discipline. In these cases, it’s best to focus in on your character, skillsets, and particular examples of your IT credentials.
That said, you could also consider taking the time to get some additional certifications. These will not only add to your existing IT expertise, but they’ll flesh out the resume as well. Both of these attributes will help you secure your first jobs.
Equally, in a competitive industry, it’s always important to take steps to stand out. You’ll be competing with dozens, if not hundreds (in some instances) of other applicants.
Having some extra qualifications may make a key difference. You may have to pay for the courses. However, see it as an investment. If that hundred dollar course secures you a well-paid job, then it’s surely money well spent.
Another option is to secure a job upfront. Then, make your case about the importance of the qualification. See if your employer will pay for it!
- Network Like Crazy
Sometimes getting a foot in the door is nothing about your personal abilities and attributes. Instead, it’s all to do with the people you know.
Connections make all the difference to anyone entering anything for the first time. If you’re lucky, then there are already people in your circles to call upon. Friends of friends and distant relative may have connections they can introduce you to. However, if that isn’t the case, then you need to put the leg work in.
Get yourself out and about into the places where IT professionals hang out. Get involved in online forums. Reach out to people through social media. Attend IT conferences. Go to meet up and social events for IT types…and so on.
Likewise, think about starting a website and blog where you discuss IT matters. Doing so can be great for gaining exposure online. Likewise, turning yourself into an authority in particular areas is sure to open doors too. Do whatever you can to get your name out there. Over time, you’ll form relationships and connections that can get you into the positions of your dreams.
There you have it: top beginners’ tips for getting started in careers in IT. The IT field is thriving. This burgeoning industry is set to grow at an impressive rate of knots over the coming years. Driven by the rise in computer use and reliance, there’s never been a higher need for people with IT skills.
Consequently, it’s a brilliant time to get started in this profession. A host of benefits that we discussed above add further incentives to get cracking. Hopefully, this post has provided some key information to help you do exactly that.
Did you like this piece? Looking for more career advice? Then be sure to check out our career section of the blog. You’ll find a host of additional resources to support your needs!