Information technology is one of the largest employers any field. And one of the major reasons for its popularity? A career in IT can be pursued across all industries—almost every enterprise, whatever its shape or size, requires IT professionals.
And IT is a compelling career choice because it usually allows for flexible working arrangements, tends to have attractive salaries even for entry-level positions, and every day is an opportunity to continue to grow technical skills and knowledge across a range of specialties—for people with the right mind-set, skills, and talent.
If you’ve got what it takes to be an IT professional, how do you break into the field? Here are five simple ways to get a foothold and then grow your IT career.
1. The right education
While most technology careers require a great deal of on-the-job training and skill development, employers are looking for college graduates—people who have demonstrated they have the basic set of skills necessary to pursue a technology career. Computer science training is the required baseline for any position, from an internship to an entry-level position and beyond. But a college degree is a great place to start. Begin with a 20-month networking degree, or refine your mastery with a 15-month information systems security degree, or expand your foundation with a 36-month computer science degree.
The great thing about going to school is that you’ll make contacts—from instructors who have experience in the field to fellow students who are going on to take positions in companies across the spectrum and across the country. You’ll have an address book full of names and numbers of people who can give you advice, and clue you in about important trends and skills to keep working on, plus professionals who can give you heads up on job openings or provide letters of recommendation. Seek out relationships with people in the field—and make sure you’re as generous with your own information as you hope they’ll be with theirs; networking must be a two-way street.
3. Start small
Employers are looking for candidates who are passionate about the field, and who are continually working to grow their skills and expand their skill sets. When you take an internship or accept an entry-level position, you’re demonstrating your interest in information technology and your willingness to learn. The entry-level jobs are the ones where you’ll find you learn the most, and where you’re most certain to be mentored by more experienced professionals who are taking an interest in you, your talent, and your ambition. Starting small can mean taking great strides once you’ve demonstrated your commitment and your talent to your supervisors.
4. Grow your skills
To break into—and stay in—a role in information technology, you need to stay on top of emerging trends and be ready constantly to “skill up,” continuously developing your technical skills. This means accepting any and all projects at work, studying independently, and pursuing further education. There are computer science bachelor’s degrees with a huge number of specializations, and information technology masters programs that can help you not only stay on top but get ahead of the field—and your competition in the applicant pool. Higher degrees in computer science are a great differentiating factor, and prove that you’ve got the chops for raises and promotions to increasingly responsible and technical roles.
5. Develop business skills along with technical skills
While technical expertise is vital in the IT industry, the ability to relate to your customers—your employer—and understand how technology addresses their business needs is equally important. It is essential to develop your customer service and communication skills in any business setting, but especially in an IT setting, where you are the liaison between the technology you work with and the business that requires that technology and relies on you to operate it.
Information technology can be a rewarding career in every way—if you’ve got the chops, make sure you take the right steps now to launch a successful career.
Want to learn more about our computer degree programs? Call (888) 814-4813 to talk to an Admissions Consultant, or request info here.
Sara Nelson is the Social Media Guru for Stevens-Henager College, overseeing the college’s profiles on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and more. She is also a student in the Master in Business Administration (MBA) program, and she enjoys spending time with her family, listening to good music, and eating freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.