Wondering how to get into IT? Now is as good a time as ever to get a job in the field. Information Technology is a varied, well-paying, and in-demand vocation.
Though some disregard IT as a boring niche, where those employed spend their days behind a computer screen, the reality is quite different. In fact, working arrangements tend to be amongst the most flexible and, given the number of companies that require IT-specialist employees, job opportunities are expansive, diverse, and exciting.
Amazingly, over a quarter of the current IT workforce in the U.S. is working without obtaining a bachelor’s degree in the field. Others may like the appeal of a career in IT but feel they are simply too under-experienced to break into the field. They don’t realize that, when it comes to IT, passion and persistence take precedence over degrees and academic achievements.[toc]
7 Ways to Break Into Information Technology
Landing a job in IT doesn’t need to be complicated. There are many ways to hone your current IT skill sets to help you quickly break into the profession. Many vocational training courses can help put you in even better stead when entering the IT sector. Check out the steps below to learn more.
1. Identify What You Like About IT
Think about what your passion is before beginning the job search. That way, you’ll be able to better navigate the areas you’re likely to excel in.
Identifying where your passion lies can also help narrow down the job search and determine what areas of the specialized field you still need to learn.
Some of the leading IT areas include:
- Data management – Creating database systems, upgrading networks, securing systems and networks, and identifying new areas for future databases.
- Software development – Modifying software, developing new software, examining software needs and producing software to meet said needs, seeking room for improvement, and maintaining software functionality.
- Cybersecurity – Monitoring systems and networks for security breaches, solving any security threats, preparing for and taking care of security breaches, and testing for faults in systems and networks.
- IT support – Being on call to solve any IT-related issues as they arise.
- IT infrastructure – The setting up and fixing of PCs, servers, routers, and other IT-related equipment.
The best means of identifying your primary focus area is to write down all of your current IT skills and see which focus area best suits your established interests.
2. Prepare for Overlap in IT Positions
The IT sector is highly varied, with an endless list of vocational routes that you can take. Although it’s good to know what IT niche you want to pursue, many of the job postings you will come across may have some overlap in terms of job descriptions.
For that reason, it’s good to have a varied skill set to increase your likelihood of landing a job in IT. Job descriptions can contain responsibilities that are not traditionally associated with the job role itself, so it’s a good idea to maintain a broad set of skills. That way, you’ll remain well suited for a range of positions.
For example, what is entailed in a web design position should be, on paper, drastically different from the job description of a cybersecurity posting. However, both contain IT support and data management responsibilities, making the roles more similar than typically thought.
3. Possess a Mixed Skillset
The best way to prepare for overlap is to identify the skills you already have so you know what IT skills you still need to gain. Some skills, such as learning to read code, can be discovered online.
You can acquire additional skills through more formal education as well. ICOHS College offers a comprehensive IT Systems Administrator program. Students will have the opportunity to develop in areas including:
- Advanced networking concepts
- Systems administration
- Network administration
- Information technology management
- Server install
- Server storage
- Server networking
- Server identity
ICOHS College also offers an IT Network Specialist program, which allows students to perfect such skills in:
- Configuration, management, and maintenance
- Networking security, standards, and protocols
- Troubleshooting network problems
- Networking fundamentals
- IP connectivity
- Programming language
- Security fundamentals
- Automation and programming
- How to combat worms and malware
If a college degree isn’t the right starting point for you, consider looking into available IT certifications. These programs take less time to complete and are more cost-effective than degree programs. Earning an IT certification is also a great way to stand out to IT hiring managers.
4. Do An Internship
On top of your formal training, it’s a good idea to get some real-life experience. You can volunteer at a company to help improve IT skills, for instance. You can also sign up for some unpaid internships to help determine your IT focus.
This opportunity will count towards your experience working in the IT profession and help your job applications stand out from the competition. Performing various internships is also a great way to network during the job search.
Get creative when it comes to volunteering opportunities. Almost all active businesses require some form of IT support, so there will be plenty of opportunities to donate your skills, even in your local community.
5. Network Extensively
On top of the contacts you’ll make by enrolling in an IT program, it’s important to continue expanding your connections network. If you’re wondering how to start a career in IT, one of the best things you can do is immerse yourself in the IT community.
Maintaining contact with individuals involved in the IT industry will help you stay ‘in the know’ about potential job openings. It can also help introduce you to reputable individuals willing to recommend you for positions and opportunities.
Be sure to maintain an active presence on job sites such as Linkedin, Glassdoor, and Indeed, and get involved with online forums and discussion pages, to build up your network virtually. The online IT community is very active, with many established professionals online willing to help rookies find their feet.
Networking can open doors that may never have appeared to you otherwise. Networking helps you go deeper in your search, finding unique IT positions that suit your interests and skills instead of just reading job postings as they appear. It gives you the heads up on any upcoming positions and puts your name out there in the IT community.
6. Identify Transferable Skills
Although IT may differ from your previous employment experience, there may also be some unexpected overlap.
Most companies require some kind of communication or customer service skills. That may well come in handy in the IT position you are applying for.
Many IT roles are customer-facing, so having this kind of experience is significant. It might just be enough to make your application stand out from the rest.
Be sure to look for positions in companies that match your interests or work experience. For example, if your last job was to do with insurance, you could apply for an IT position working in an insurance company.
Knowing the basics regarding what the company does and its service can be hugely beneficial to getting your foot in the door.
7. Stay up to Date
Like most modern job sectors, IT is volatile and is subject to regular updates and drastic changes in technologies.
Instead of reading old IT textbooks and getting comfortable with the IT information you already possess, you need to remain up to date and be prepared for any changes in how your role operates. Employers will be seeking someone who is clearly on top of the latest developments and advancements in technology and capable of overcoming any changes in the future.
The best means of staying up to date with IT fundamentals is by practicing self-education. Maintain a strong presence on online IT forums and help pages, become an avid viewer of IT-related YouTube content, and read IT magazines and new textbooks prolifically.
The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is another resource for aspiring IT professionals. The series contains best practices for IT services. Individuals can also lean on the content to establish cost-effective practices, build a reliable IT team, strengthen customer relationships, and manage risk.
Once again, networking will help you learn about new developments in the field. The more people you talk to, the more opportunities you’ll have to hear about the latest changes in information technology.
Think of a career in IT as a perpetual work in progress. If you make self-study a habit at the start of your career, it will be easy to maintain as you progress.
If you’re interested in computer networks, then a career in information technology might be for you!
ICOHS College is proud to help students secure a variety of IT jobs. We provide degree programs to help students become systems administrators and network specialists. Both will prepare students with the technical and professional skills needed to excel in the field.
Students will also be prepared to pass various industry certifications, including:
Students can take advantage of our career counseling services so that they can find the right job for them. Graduates from ICOHS College also enjoy lifetime job placement assistance.
Fill out our program form to get started on a successful career in information technology today.
Do you need a degree to start a career in IT?
It is possible to begin a career in IT without being college or university-qualified. Over a quarter of IT professionals in the U.S. do not possess formal college degrees. Being passionate about IT and maintaining the proper skills is often enough to access a career in the field.
Can I get a position in the IT field with little experience?
Experience is a required component when it comes to getting an IT position. Without possessing sufficient IT skills, your chances of landing a job in the field are slim. To gain IT experience, you should enroll in an ICOHS College training program or apply for IT internships.
What is the average job salary of an IT specialist in the U.S.?
The average pay of an IT specialist can vary greatly depending on your focus area. According to 2020 data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer systems analysts can earn upwards of $93,730 per year. Software developers can earn even higher wages, with a median annual pay of $110, 140. Meanwhile, the average annual salary for computer support specialists hovers around $55,510 per year.
Is there a healthy IT job market in the U.S.?
Like most industries, job loss was significant in the IT sector throughout the pandemic. However, there has been a healthy turnaround since. According to the BLS, the industry is growing at a much faster rate than other occupations. The organization predicts about 531,200 new IT jobs will hit the U.S. job market by 2029.