Finding a Job

How to Start a Career in IT

February 26, 2021

Businesses require information technology, or IT, to remain competitive and provide the best products and services to customers. As more and more businesses discover ways to use technology to their benefit, demand for trained, specialized IT professionals grows. For this reason and others, many people interested in starting a new career may consider the IT field. In this article, we discuss reasons to choose an IT career, steps to get started and helpful tips.

Related: Learn About Being an IT Specialist

Why choose a career in IT?

Choosing a career in IT has a number of benefits, including:

  • Job stability: For one, IT offers job stability because there is more demand for skilled IT professionals than there are people in the field. Beyond that, IT roles tend to come with compensation that reflects the demand.

  • Low-cost training opportunities: In many cases, people can become trained in IT without a four-year degree. This means that educational costs to get into the field could be substantially lower than other high-paying fields like medicine or engineering.

  • Constant evolution: Additionally, IT is always changing with the advent of new technologies, which makes it a good option for people who like to keep learning.

Related: IT Project Manager Resume Samples

How to start a career in IT

Here's how to start your IT career in eight steps:

  1. Research roles and positions
  2. Create a short list
  3. Learn to code
  4. Work on an open-source project
  5. Enroll in education
  6. Network with IT professionals
  7. Freelance for experience
  8. Be ready to answer technical questions

1. Research roles and positions

The field of IT is a diverse one with many specialties. Some of these include positions like systems administrator, network engineer, software developer, DevOps specialist and more. Researching the roles and positions available helps you understand which ones might be a good fit for your existing skills, interests and career goals.

2. Create a short list

When you've finished your initial research, create a short list of potential jobs. With your ideal jobs in mind, continue to research the qualifications necessary to be hired for the roles you chose. By doing this, you can focus your education and training to better prepare you for your desired positions.

3. Learn to code

HTML is often the first coding language people learn because it's very common and relatively easy to learn without formal training. Other languages you may want to invest time into learning include JavaScript, Java, C++, Python and Ruby. These are considered more advanced languages and may require more formal training. Classes and tutorials are available online, making it easier for anyone to access educational resources on popular coding methods.

4. Work on an open-source project

You can gain experience with coding by creating or contributing to open-source projects and sharing your knowledge with others. Not only does this build your skill set, but it's also something you can put in your portfolio and on your resume. To contribute to an open-source project, follow these tips:

  • Get familiar with open-source platforms. Open-source platforms are tools that developers can use to contribute to or start new projects. Learn the popular open-source platforms and communities that developers use.

  • Decide if you want to start a new project or contribute. You can create your own projects or contribute to existing ones. Decide which is best for your skill level.

5. Enroll in education

Once you've decided on a career path and gotten some experience, enroll in education to solidify your candidacy. This could be taking a formal coding course or enrolling in an associate degree or bachelor's degree program. What you choose depends on what role you want to achieve. For example, a software developer may just need a few courses or to pass a certification exam, while a systems administrator or network engineer would need to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science.

6. Network with IT professionals

Before you start on your IT career journey, find opportunities to network with other IT professionals. By attending networking events where you're likely to meet them, you increase your chances of getting a job referral. These referrals are valuable because they allow you to get special consideration in a competitive field.

You can find IT networking events by checking with your local professional associations, business publications and chambers of commerce. Building relationships through these organizations is a good way to activate your career because you'll meet people who work locally for IT departments or organizations that may have job openings.

7. Freelance for experience

Once you've worked on your applicable IT skills and built your network, you can often gain experience by freelancing. For instance, an aspiring software developer can offer freelance development services, while a web designer can offer freelance website services to the public. Freelancing is a good way to break into the field because it allows you to gain experience while also getting paid for your work.

8. Be ready to answer technical questions

Once you start taking interviews, you'll need to be prepared to answer technical questions and, in some cases, solve technical problems. Prepare for your interview by researching popular IT interview questions that are highly technical to test your IT capabilities. You can also practice solving problems, including algorithms and fixing code in your preferred coding language.

Some popular IT interview questions include:

  • How long have you been coding in HTML?
  • What coding languages do you know?
  • What is DevOps?
  • Describe a time a development project was unsuccessful. What happened and how did you fix it?
  • What do you like the most about working in IT?

Related: 6 Common IT Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

IT career-building tips

Here are some tips to get your IT career moving forward:

  • Consider getting a certification. Some popular certifications include Microsoft, Oracle, CompTIA, CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker), CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional), CISM (Certified Information Security Manager) and ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library).

  • Seek a relevant degree. If computer science isn't your preference, you can further specialize by seeking a degree in one of these related fields: computer information systems, computer engineering, information science, mathematics, statistics, applied science and more.

  • Update your social media pages. Whenever you're looking for a new job, it's important to appear professional and competent to employers, so update all of your social media pages online to reflect your interest in technology.

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