It seems that, nowadays, everyone wants to start a career in the information technology (IT) industry. No matter their age, education level, or previous work experience, many seem to be gravitating towards this booming industry. And it’s not surprising: IT can offer you desirable income, the comfort of working from an office or even your own home, and it isn’t likely you will run out of work any time soon.
The global IT industry is one of the fastest-growing in the world, meaning IT employees don’t have much to worry about when it comes to career opportunities.
However, precisely because so many people are eager to start their tech careers, the market has become highly competitive. There are dozens, if not hundreds of different IT sectors to choose from, but there are also hundreds of thousands of applicants doing their best to land that perfect tech job. Getting started in IT is not a piece of cake.
That doesn’t mean you should give up on your goals. Even though it will take a bit of time and effort, securing a good position in the IT industry will all be worth it in the end.
Let’s look at the essential things you can do to start an IT career by answering some of the most common questions regarding job searching in this industry.
Do I need a college degree to start a career in IT?
The question of having (or not having) a college degree seems to be closely linked to all IT career paths.
If you happen to have a bachelor’s degree – or even a master’s – in an unrelated field, then you absolutely do not have to get another degree in an IT field. The time you would spend going to classes and sitting exams would be better spent on gaining relevant experience, improving your skill sets through various courses and training, and nurturing valuable interpersonal connections in IT.
Your degree in an unrelated field could also prove to be a big bonus. For example, someone with a literature degree might be more creative in their problem-solving and have superior writing or communication skills. When you’re crafting your CV to start your IT job hunt, don’t hesitate to present your non-IT degree as an asset rather than a disadvantage.
If you don’t have a college degree at all, it also doesn’t necessarily mean you will need to acquire one. It would be an advantage, as many companies don’t even consider applicants unless they have a degree of some kind; however, more and more IT businesses are focusing on what the applicant actually knows – the skills they possess, the projects they’ve worked on (if any), and how they can benefit the company. A college degree is slowly becoming obsolete in the world of IT.
What type of certifications do I need?
Even though you may not require formal education for a career in tech, getting certified is practically a must. Certifications relevant to your branch of IT will provide you with a huge career boost and let your hiring managers know that you possess all the necessary knowledge and tech skills to be useful to their company.
Exactly what type of certifications you need depends on the kind of technology job you’re after. Do you wish to work in cybersecurity? Software development? Or perhaps you’d like to learn from web designers or become a systems administrator?
Here are some of the certifications you could benefit from:
- Microsoft, for a good foundation in tech knowledge
- Cisco, for working with Cisco hardware and software
- CompTIA, for a wide range of training in security, server work, working on networks, etc.
- EC-Council, for becoming an ethical hacker
- Linux, for working in Linux, an open-source operating system
This list is by no means comprehensive, and many other certifications could prove to be invaluable in your IT career development. But this will provide you with a good starting point from where you can build your CV and your career step by step.
Do I need to pay for IT courses?
The Internet is a wealth of free knowledge and information. You can find countless free video courses and online training on YouTube, Skillshare, and a wide variety of other sources. We don’t want to discount the benefit and importance of these sites, since they provide you with a chance to grasp the basics of almost all types of information technology career paths. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking to become a web designer, an app developer, or a systems administrator – you will likely find a good starting course for free.
However, the challenge is continuing your IT education without paying a single cent. Unfortunately, not many high-quality courses that offer professional development on an intermediate or advanced level are free, especially those that lead to certification at the end.
If you are serious about your career change (or career start), you will need to invest a certain amount of money in your training. It doesn’t have to be crazy expensive – not as much as the average college tuition – but you should expect some costs along the way.
Can I get start a career in IT with zero experience?
We mentioned how IT companies value experience and practical knowledge. While this is true, it doesn’t have to mean that you won’t be able to land your first job without any experience. Here are a few tips for starting your way up the IT ladder:
- Volunteer work
Volunteer work is not ideal, since you are essentially performing a full-time (or part-time) job for no money. However, many IT firms are open to accepting volunteers or interns into their fold and later promoting them to being employees.
If you find a company that you’d love to work for one day, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask them to volunteer. Unpaid internships are an excellent opportunity to get your foot in the door of your future workplace and learn from your superiors and sharpen your skills. It will provide you with the starting experience you need, and if you prove yourself as a valuable asset to the company, there’s no reason why they wouldn’t hire you once your internship is up.
- Entry-level job titles
Career changers need to be okay with people who are starting from the bottom (or near-bottom) again. If you have no IT experience, you will not likely get hired at your ideal position right away. Look for entry-level jobs that may not be your ultimate goal, but that will lead to it somewhere down the line.
Working hard, getting educated in the field, and showing great enthusiasm for the job will have you reaching for the stars in no time.
- Emphasize your soft skills
You may not have much experience in coding or designing, but you likely have experience you can draw on from a different industry. Fill your CV with soft skills you’ve honed in your previous job descriptions, such as communication, critical thinking, leadership, and teamwork skills, as well as your work ethic, attention to detail, or anything else that might be useful in technology careers.
Displaying an impressive list of soft skills (though not going overboard!) will help you stand out when applying for an IT job, even if you don’t have IT experience.
There’s no universal way to start a career in IT. Everyone takes different paths to get to the position they feel comfortable with. Some get a college degree in an IT field; others are entirely self-taught. Some get a company job without any experience; others turn to freelance work. There is no right or wrong way when it comes to this topic – only what feels right for you.
Keep in mind that the world of IT and information technology infrastructure are continually evolving, with new technologies popping up practically every few months. It is a fast-paced industry that will require you to keep up with the latest breakthroughs and update your knowledge base with new methods for software development, maintenance, or design. Making technology, computers, and code a pivotal part of your world will help you become an IT expert in no time.
Ready to start an IT career and learn about getting certified? If you want to hear about our certification graduates’ success stories or the online courses we offer, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at My Computer Career.
Whether your goal is to be a project manager, a cyber security specialist, or a certified ethical hacker, we can offer you a free career evaluation that takes less than 10 minutes to complete. After this, you will know exactly what your next steps in becoming an information technology professional should be. Let’s talk about why having access to comprehensive practice labs is better than teaching yourself. Contact us with any questions or concerns you might have about entering this versatile industry, and we’ll be more than happy to lend a hand!