Information technology (I.T.) is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. In 2019, the Information Technology market exceeded $2.461 billion. This makes it a highly dynamic environment and an interesting place where people can look to start their careers. 

MyComputerCareer will help you take full advantage of what the industry has to offer and kick start your I.T. career. We provide both on-site and online training for eager adults willing to become an information technology specialist. Do not hesitate and contact us today!

In a 2019 report conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Census Bureau, Department of Commerce, and other governmental bodies, it was revealed that automation is having a tremendous effect on the workforce. Its influence spreads across all industries. If we are to look at manufacturing in the United States, for example, the sector is producing more today than it has ever done in the past. Yet, the total workforce involved in manufacturing is lower than it has ever been in decades. The reason for this is that automation is replacing many jobs that were previously done by people. 

The point we’re trying to make here is that the I.T. industry, though also affected by automation, is still generating more career opportunities than it’s losing. And given its many specializations, certifications, and providers out there, anyone looking to start down a career path or looking to change their field, I.T. is a great place to do so.  

This comprehensive how-to guide will tell you everything you need to know about getting certified and working in the I.T. industry. Let’s start by looking at the pros and cons of working in Information Technology. 

The Benefits of Getting Certified and Working in I.T.

There are plenty of benefits for being a certified professional in I.T. These will include the following: 

Numerous Certification Options

Whether you’re only starting out in I.T. or are looking to advance your career, there are plenty of certifications to choose from. When it comes to entry-level candidates, basic I.T. certifications will include CompTIA certifications, Microsoft Certified Professional, Linux Essentials, Cisco CCNA, and more. These will help you land a job in I.T. in no time, working as System Administrators, System Operators, Network Administrators, Help Desk Support, and much more.

A certified information systems security professional or information security analyst, on the other hand, can advance their career in cyber security by choosing EC-Council’s certifications and becoming Ethical Hackers. 

Plenty of Job Opportunities and Attractive Wages

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in the I.T. sector is expected to grow by 12% from 2018 to 2028. That’s equal to roughly 546,200 new jobs across the country, which is more than the average for all other occupations. Finding a job in Information Technology shouldn’t be hard at all. 

In terms of salaries, the computer and information technology industry also provides more than the average. According to the same BLS statistics, a certified professional in I.T. will earn, on average, $86,320 per year. By comparison, all other occupations in the United States have a median annual wage of just $38,640. In addition, people with a certificate, a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, or associate’s degrees will typically earn 13.7% more than their non-certified peers. 

Better Time Management

With enough skill and experience, a non-certified person can land a job in the industry. The problem is that most self-taught professionals started learning when they were in their teens. If you don’t count yourself among them, consider that certification training takes only several months to complete. Online courses will also allow you the flexibility to learn based on your already existing schedule.

As for actually working in I.T., it’s good to know that most job titles won’t require a fixed 9-to-5 schedule. This means that you have more flexibility with your time. This sometimes means that you can pick your schedule or even telecommute. 

Credibility, Validation, and Confidence Boost

Becoming I.T. certified will also enhance your credibility and validation in the eyes of future and current employers. In fact, certificates boost professional credibility and specialized knowledge validation by 95.4% and 97.9%, respectively. They will also enhance your own personal confidence levels by a whopping 88.2%. Certificates will show those in human resources that you are committed to your profession and actually have the skills mentioned in your resume. 

In addition, your information technology certification will help with your personal and professional development. Continuing education will ensure that you stay on top of the latest trends and developments in the industry, keeping your skills up-to-date and relevant.  

The Drawbacks of Working in I.T. 

While there are plenty of benefits of working in I.T., there are also certain drawbacks that you need to take into account. Consider the following: 

Stress

Whether you have an entry-level job or are an established information technology specialist, stress will likely be part of the job description. If you’re in Help Desk, chances are you’ll be dealing with angry people on a regular basis. If you’re a Systems Administrator, an Information Security Analyst, a Network Engineer, or have anything else to do with cyber security, even the smallest mistake can cause big problems. Luckily, this added risk and stress will typically be rewarded with a higher salary than the national average. 

Working Odd and/or Long Hours

Another thing to realize about tech careers is that most problems won’t typically adhere to a strict 9-to-5 schedule. Whether it’s customer service or network and security issues, the chances are that something will pop up just as you’re about to leave. Certain emergencies may even require you to work at night. That said, it’s also often that you won’t have to adhere to a strict schedule. You’ll typically be given certain benefits to make up for it. 

Constant Complaints and Requests 

Most people are fairly ignorant about the different roles that fall under the umbrella of an information technology specialist. As such, many I.T. professionals, regardless of their job titles or responsibilities, will tend to be presented with a constant barrage of colleague complaints and requests. Most of these will be related to troubleshooting, obviously, but they still require a fair degree of time and patience.

Frustrating as this may be, know that the I.T sector offers almost unparalleled job security. In the cyber security field alone, there’s an estimated shortage of two million skilled professionals. Every year in the United States, there are roughly 40,000 job openings for information security analysts that go unfilled, and a further 200,000 security-related positions are in the same situation. The same thing applies to the rest of the industry, as well. 

Too Many Career Choices 

Whether you’re interested in network security, computer programming, cloud computing, database management, and more, there’s always a niche for you. That said, it can be a bit nerve-wracking to know what you want, and you can be well on your way down a career path before you realize that this particular specialization may not be for you.

Fortunately, the I.T. sector actually favors employees who are versed in more than one specialization. So, for instance, you started with data management but later realized you want a career in information security, your past experience will actually play in your favor. A security analyst with a background in database engineering will stand a better chance of landing a higher-paying job than one that doesn’t. And given the talent gap that currently exists on the market, a several-month-long online certification training will be more than enough to qualify and verify your new skills. 

Top Five I.T. Certifications Currently in Demand

If you want to build a career in Information Technology and get a significant head start, it’s important that you enroll yourself in a certificate program and become an information technology specialist. To that end, we put together a top-five list of I.T. certifications for your professional development or continuing education in the field. 

  1. CompTIA CertificationsThe Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) provides numerous certifications that can lead you down multiple career paths, such as Desktop Support Technician, I.T. Support Technician, Network and Systems Administration, Field Service Technician, Security Specialist, and more.

    The CompTIA A+ certificate is a great starting point as it lays much of the groundwork for your computer science skills. More advanced certificates include CompTIA Server +, CompTIA Network +, CompTIA Security +, and more.
  2. Microsoft Certifications – Being a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) will definitely give you plenty of career opportunities in the computer and information world. Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA), in particular, is yet another professional development certification to start your I.T. career. Like the CompTIA certifications above, this one will cement your fundamental knowledge in Windows 10 operating system, Networking, or Security. 
  1. Linux Certifications – Unbeknownst to many, Linux powers much more of the global technology than people realize. While it’s true that Windows holds over 82% of the worlds’ OS market, Linux powers 100% of all the world’s supercomputers.

    Also, 23 of the top 25 sites in the world use Linux, and 96.3% of the top 1 million servers around the world use it as well. Likewise, 90% of all cloud infrastructure runs on Linux, and all top cloud hosts are implementing it. Having a Linux Certification will definitely set you apart from the competition, showing that you have ample experience using this open-source platform.
  1. Cisco Certifications – Being a world leader in network routing and switching, Cisco provides an I.T. network certification that’s valid for all types of engineers. This will include entry-level Network Engineers, Network Administrators, Network Support Engineers, and Network Specialists.

    The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification can be broken down into several specializations, such as Routing and Switching, Security, Cloud Computing, Cyber Security Analysis, Data Center Technologies, Unified Communications, and more. Cisco certified network associates will, therefore, have ample opportunities for employment or advancement.
  1. EC-Council Certifications – The Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification provided by EC-Council is aimed at I.T. professionals with a background as security officers, auditors, security consultants, and other specialists involved in data and network security of their organizations.

    Among all the other security certifications, CEH will let companies know that you truly have what it takes to conduct computer forensics, look for vulnerabilities in network and computer systems, and set up a strong defense against all sorts of cyber-attacks and data breaches. You will be what’s known as an Ethical Hacker in the industry. To further your knowledge and skills, consider these tools and resources for I.T. security professionals

What Are the Best Skills to Make It in the I.T. Industry?

With the huge talent gap plaguing the tech industry, the demand for qualified and certified professionals has never been higher. That said, there are certain skills that will go a long way in helping you land a job and excel in this sector. Among these, we can include the following:

Cyber Security

Cybercrime is at an all-time high. Billions of dollars are being lost all across the world every year as a result of cyber-attacks and data breaches. Statistics also show that 65% of data breach victims lose their trust in an organization as a result of a breach. Add to that the financial losses, the operational disruption, and possible legal ramifications, and it’s no wonder why system security is so important.

Companies, big and small, are looking for certified information systems security personnel but aren’t always succeeding. This skill will not only land you a high-paying job at a moment’s notice, but it will also provide you with plenty of advancement opportunities. 

Networking and Infrastructure

Due to the adaptability and flexibility that it provides, the software-defined networks (SDN) market is growing at an almost exponential rate. According to an International Data Corporation (IDC) report, the SD-WAN Infrastructure market is expected to reach $4.5 billion by 2022. With such a growth level, networking and infrastructure skills, as those provided by Cisco certifications, are a smart bet for I.T. professionals.

Systems Architecture

According to CompTIA, only about 34% of organizations build their I.T. architecture strategies beyond 12 months. This is because it’s hard to predict all I.T. environment changes. Nevertheless, companies are facing increasing pressures to align their departments given these emerging technologies. It’s an architecture professional’s duty to ensure that legacy programs and procedures align with modern practices.

Help Desk and Tech Support

Though it may come as a surprise to many, help desk and tech support are incredibly useful skills to have, particularly for entry-level candidates. As more and more companies are in a digital transformation process, the need for experienced software and hardware professionals is going up significantly. Though not the highest-paying jobs in the tech industry, they are great platforms to launch one’s I.T. career. 

Soft and Hybrid Skills

As technology becomes commonplace across all aspects of the business environment, I.T. professionals need to learn and develop soft skills. As compared to the hard, technical skills mentioned above, soft skills represent things like communication and leadership skills, creativity, open-mindedness, critical thinking, time management, decision-making, teamwork, and more. Tech experts can no longer afford to focus only on their technical skills and need to combine them with soft skills. These combinations are known as hybrid skills and are in ever-higher demand. 

Career Advancement Skills

Last, but not least, are your career development skills. No matter how good you are in your field, you’ll still have a tough time making it in the I.T. industry without knowing how to write a proper resume or choose a CV format that best highlights your qualifications. Likewise, you should know how to build your personal brand, as it can help you greatly in your career advancement.

Also, don’t forget about your social media presence, particularly on LinkedIn. You should also know how to dress during an interview, as well as how to prepare for their questions. Finally, don’t forget about networking. Did you know that 85% of job placements happen as a direct result of professional connections? Luckily, you can start networking in the field as soon as you’re in school, both on-campus or during online courses.

Top Paying Jobs in I.T.

As we said earlier in this guide, I.T. professionals earn far more, on average, than people in other industries. We also mentioned that degree programs help increase that wage by about 13.7%. You should also know that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over a quarter of I.T. workers don’t have a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in computer sciences. As such, an increasing number of employers are looking for I.T. with a certificate. To that end, we’ve put together a list of the top 14 best-paying jobs in Information Technology and their average annual salaries based on 2016 BLS information. 

  1. Systems Administrators – $60,851
  2. Data Security Analysts – $63,875
  3. Computer Systems Analysts – $67,629
  4. Cisco Certified Networking Associates (CCNA) – $75,000
  5. Information Technology Consultants – $76,630
  6. Certified Ethical Hackers (CEH) – $79,536
  7. Information Technology Managers – $85,826
  8. Project Managers – $86,082
  9. Systems Architects – $108,053
  10. Information Security Managers – $110,606
  11. Program Managers – $111,309
  12. I.T. Directors – $115,732
  13. Network Architects – $118,335
  14. Software Architects – $121,462

Top Cities for I.T. Jobs

When we think about landing a high-paying I.T. job in the U.S., the first place most of us consider is Silicon Valley. And while we’re not wrong in doing so, many are put off by the prospect of having to relocate. Fortunately, Silicon Valley isn’t the only place that’s on a constant lookout for I.T. professionals. Here’s a top eleven list of best cities for I.T. jobs, aside from the Bay Area.  

  1. Hunstville, AL
    Average base pay for I.T. specialists: $53,263 annually
    Median two-bedroom apartment rent: $948 per month
    Median 3br/2ba home price: $236,628
  2. Jacksonville, FL
    Average pay: $55,002
    Median rent: $1,256
    Median home price: $250,957
  3. Salt Lake City, UT
    Average pay: $58,801
    Median rent: $1,155
    Median home price: $381,241
  4. Nashville, TN
    Average pay: $63,423
    Median rent: $1,044
    Median home price: $332,780
  5. Cincinnati, OH
    Average pay : $58,855
    Median rent: $978
    Median home price: $290,786
  6. Columbus, OH
    Average pay: $62,328
    Median rent: $1,016
    Median home price: $252,900
  7. Raleigh, NC
    Average pay: $59,815
    Median rent: $1,155
    Median home price: $269,562
  8. Indianapolis, IN
    Average pay: $58,566
    Median rent: $1,084
    Median home price: $252,385
  9. Providence, RI
    Average pay: $57,808
    Median rent: $1,893
    Median home price: $467,360
  10. Cedar Rapids, IA
    Average pay: $53,272
    Median rent: $754
    Median home price: $335,179
  11. Austin, TX
    Average pay: $57,768
    Median rent: $1,411
    Median home price: $320,629

Takeaway

The I.T. industry provides great opportunities for starting a new career or advancing your skills and knowledge. Getting certified should be your top priority when going down this path, as it will make it that much easier. Together with MyComputerCareer, you can make all of your career dreams happen in only a matter of months. We provide online and on-campus courses, as well as job placement services to help you on your way. We are also a military-friendly organization that helps veterans transition to civilian life in Information Technology. Check out some of our success stories and contact us today! 

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