Businesses need information technology (IT) professionals to keep them competitive and help them provide quality service to customers. The IT world covers everything from programming to artificial intelligence. If you’re looking for professional development and have an interest in technology, you may be able to accomplish your career goals in the IT field.

Is IT the Right Choice for Me?

It’s often said that change is the only constant in information technology. In the past, you might choose one technology path and stick with that for your entire career. These days, it’s extremely common for a database engineer to transition to a different skill set such as data analysis or cloud architecture.

To achieve IT career growth, regardless of your chosen path, you must open yourself to continuous learning. That way, you’re always prepared when the winds shift and something new appears on the horizon. For example, you can plug away at learning a new technology, then find that it’s become entirely obsolete a few years later. For that reason, IT professionals must constantly prepare themselves to ride those shifts.

If the idea of lifetime learning doesn’t appeal to you, then it’s likely you aren’t suitable for a career as an IT professional. However, if you enjoy technology and are open to continually updating your skillset, you put yourself in an excellent position to succeed in the IT world.

Is It a Good Career Path?

Many people make the mistake of thinking that they won’t fit into the IT world because they’re not skilled coders or don’t know how to work with a database. However, the soft skills you picked up from your prior experiences can go a long way toward helping you achieve IT career growth.

For example, if you’ve worked in customer service and are used to helping customers with their problems, that can be a good jumping-off point to a help desk position. That kind of entry-level IT role looks great on your resume and gives you better insight into the impacts of technology.

Some other reasons why you might want to choose to work in IT include:

  • Stability — It’s hard to think of any industry that doesn’t rely heavily on IT. That means there will always be a significant demand for skilled IT professionals.
  • Endless training opportunities — Another great aspect of the IT world is the array of training opportunities available. Even if you can’t afford to attend a big university, lower-cost training alternatives are available to help you expand your skillset.
  • New technology — Because of the constant change, there’s always an opportunity to learn something new, preventing you from getting bored with the field.

How Do I Start a Career in IT With Zero Experience?

The first thing you need to ask yourself is, “what do I want to do?” To get a better sense of where you might fit in IT, start researching different roles. Once you figure out what you want to do, start looking up the certifications necessary for your professional development. Earning an associate information technology degree is a great starting point to get the education required to sustain your IT career goals.

You don’t need a bachelor’s degree from a top-tier Ivy League college to enter the IT workforce. Continuing your education shows potential employers your willingness to learn and master the skills necessary for your chosen IT role.

Having a degree in a non-technical field can also boost your career prospects. For example, an English major can develop creative problem-solving skills that lead to innovative solutions. Business majors can use their knowledge to better understand the full impact of technology decisions on an organization. If you already have a bachelor’s degree, you may want to consider going for a master’s in IT.

Practical work experience

Once you’ve expanded your existing technical skills, you can put them to work in the following ways to help your professional development:

  • Volunteering — If you’re willing to work for free, there are a lot of companies and IT firms willing to take on interns and volunteers. You get practical experience and the opportunity to later earn a full-time paying position. Don’t be shy about contacting companies you’d like to work for to see if they have any non-paid positions available that will provide you with invaluable experience.
  • Entry-level roles — If you’re new to the IT world, it’s unlikely you’ll land in your ideal position right away. Apply for entry-level roles available through various organizations. Once you land one, you can start working toward your ultimate career goal.
  • Lateral move — Individuals can look for internal job opportunities that let them transition into an IT role. In addition, look for job postings that appear open to providing training for experienced career professionals.

What are the Most In-Demand IT Skills?

IT provides you with a variety of career paths from which to choose. Shoring up your skills in the following areas can increase your chances of achieving ongoing IT career growth.

Cyber Security. Cyber security professionals are responsible for executing measures designed to protect a company’s networks and systems. The goal is to keep out malware and other threats that could lead to unauthorized access, compromise data integrity, and cause irreparable damage to the company. In-demand skills include:

  • C and C++ coding skills
  • Python
  • SQL
  • Cloud security
  • Problem-solving
  • Trouble-shooting information systems
  • Network monitoring
  • Knowledge of operating systems like Linux, Windows, and Mac OS
  • Knowledge of VPNs, firewalls, and routers
  • Understanding of security intrusion systems
  • Risk analysis
  • Carrying out a security audit

Software Coding. Coding is a valuable skill prized by pretty much every industry. Roles as diverse as a computer programmer, data scientist, or game developer all require some level of coding acumen. However, the languages and technologies you need to master can depend on choices like whether you decide to become a web developer or a system engineer. Below are some coding specializations that can help you reach your IT career goals:

  • Python
  • C#
  • Java
  • HTML
  • Ruby

Becoming a successful coder requires analytical skills and paying attention to minor details. It only takes one poorly written line of code to cause a program to go haywire. For that reason, software coding requires you to have a lot of patience and a willingness to trouble-shoot your solutions thoroughly.

Data Analysis. Data is one of the most valuable assets owned by an organization. For that reason, companies are always on the lookout for professionals capable of breaking tons of information down into digestible insights to help drive business-making decisions.

There are numerous paths available to becoming a data analyst. Most data analysts start with a bachelor’s degree in IT or computer science. However, you can further shore up your skills and help achieve your career goals by getting a master’s degree in IT. Top skills requested of data analysts include:

  • Data cleaning
  • Python
  • R
  • Data visualization
  • SQL and NoSQL
  • Linear Algebra
  • Calculus

Networking. Networking specialists focus on evaluating and trouble-shooting computer network issues. As you advance down your career path, your skills may expand to creating and designing communication networks for your company. Those whose career goals include becoming a network architect or engineer can end up building company intranets, wide area networks (WANs), and local area networks (LANs). Network specialists typically obtain the following certifications:

  • CompTIA A+
  • CompTIA Network+
  • CompTIA Security+

Many network professionals earn specialized partner certifications through companies like Microsoft and Cisco. They provide the opportunity to certify your skills at a beginner, intermediate, and advanced level.

How Do I Level Up My IT Career?

One of the best ways to continue your professional development is by working toward a graduate degree in IT, either a master’s or a Ph.D. In addition, you can pursue the most sought-after certifications for your profession.

If you’re looking to move into a management or executive role, work on honing the kind of soft skills necessary to become an IT leader, including:

  • Working effectively with different teams
  • Establishing a collaborative environment for workers
  • Communicating with individuals across multiple IT disciplines
  • Providing constructive feedback
  • Developing emotional intelligence to form better working relationships
  • Adapting quickly to change
  • Managing time effectively
  • Breaking down technical concepts to individuals in non-IT roles

Even if you work with a remote workforce, look for opportunities to connect and network with others in your organization. Try to find someone willing to act as a mentor to help you achieve your IT career goals. It helps to plan out how to connect with individuals and form productive relationships. As you progress, you should be willing to extend a hand to others just entering the field.

Get Started on Your IT Career Goals

The vastness of the IT industry means there are multiple ways for individuals to achieve IT career growth. Ongoing education is the best way to advance your profession and achieve your career goals.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the undergraduate and graduate IT degree programs offered at University of the Cumberlands, reach out to one of our admissions counselors. You can also request more information.