Whether you're working a dead-end job or transitioning out of the military, everybody has different reasons to make the jump into the IT industry. And the timing couldn't be better. The industry is facing a massive shortage of workers; plus, it offers great pay, amazing benefits, and lots of employment opportunities.
If you don't have much experience but are looking to join this thriving industry, don't worry — you're not the first. Here are seven tips for getting your foot in the door of the IT industry.
When you first make the decision to pursue a new career in IT, it's important to take a hard look at your prior experience. It might seem like you have none of the skills listed on job postings, but "soft skills" can be surprisingly important and many skills are transferable into IT roles.
For example, if you're looking to start in a help desk position (a common entry-level IT role), things like communication, customer service, familiarity with Microsoft Office, and other common skills can be a huge boost to your resume. By carefully thinking about your past roles through the lens of the role you'd like to get, you may find a treasure trove of relevant experience.
You'll need to create a new resume with relevant experience listed and tailored specifically for the kinds of roles you're trying to land. Employers are highly likely to take a look at your LinkedIn page during the application process. Using your new resume, you should revise your profile to make sure the two match up. You should also take time to write a new cover letter that explains your prior experience, how it'll be useful in your new role, and why you're interested in changing industries. This will help answer a lot of questions if your resume piques their interest.
Getting certified may be the fastest way to break into information technology. While a tech degree can take 1-4 years, certifications can be studied for and earned in just a few weeks. Entry-level certifications like the ITIL, CompTIA A+, Network+, and Security+ — found in our entry-level Computer User Support program — can lay the foundation for roles in networking and cybersecurity later in your career.
By getting certified, you'll show potential employers that you have the skills they need. This can go a long way towards making up for a lack of experience. For some roles, the right certifications will put you higher in the stack than applicants with limited experience and no certifications. Best of all, certifications can help open up more entry-level opportunities instead of just taking the first IT job that comes your way.
How do you get certified? The short answer is that you can choose between self-studying or in-person, hands-on training, and then take a certification exam. For most individuals with little to no experience, the best option is to take a course taught by an expert with real-world experience so you can ask questions and really understand the topic in depth. Another great learning technique for beginners is taking a course that allows you to put your hands on the actual technology you will be working within on the job. This allows you to get a feel for what a real job in IT will be like while simultaneously building your confidence. If you're interested in a course like this, ACI Learning's A+ course offers hands-on computer builds taught by expert instructors with real-world experience.
You may be tearing your hair out with regret, wondering why you used all that time in college on a degree that isn't helping you with your quest for a lifelong career. But don't be too hard on yourself. Many employers are more inclined to offer you a job simply because you were able to accomplish the feat of earning a degree.
Instead of focusing on how your degree may have cost you time and money, focus on the ways that your degree can be applied in moving your life forward into an IT career. For example, an IT worker with a literature degree will be more likely to take a creative approach to problem-solving and have superior writing and communication skills. A philosophy major has a deeper understanding of logic and a unique way of approaching challenges. By casting your degree as an asset, you'll stand out from other applicants who only have computer or tech experience.
With the rapid evolution of IT, there is a huge demand for individuals from diverse backgrounds and unique perspectives.
It's important to note that you may have to "start over" in IT. You may have been a manager or an advanced professional in your old industry, but remember — you're leaving it for a reason. Be prepared to start with a lower-level position and work your way up. The experience you get working at the bottom of the ladder will be valuable as you grow into a more challenging position.
Don't worry too much though - the earning potential you will have in IT is only limited by the work you put in. On the low-end, you are looking at starting out right around $40K per year in a help desk position. But within five years in the industry and a couple of cybersecurity certifications, you could be looking at around $65K minimum in a Cybersecurity Analyst role. It really depends on your willingness to move forward and the extra learning time you put in to master your craft.
If you want a "head start," considering getting a degree or a few certifications. These credentials have the potential to help you out significantly.
Getting educated about your field of interest shows your commitment to your new industry and helps to give you an advantage over other applicants. It can also prepare you for more advanced positions down the line. With no experience, you still won't be able to jump to the top of the ladder. But with so many open positions all across the IT industry, the right credentials can help you quickly climb to higher-paying and more specialized positions in IT.
You may be surprised by how powerful your connections can be. When looking to fill a job role, most employers are more interested in hiring somebody based on a recommendation than interviewing a bunch of total strangers.
Make sure to use social media and everyone in your address book and reach out to anybody you know who's associated with the tech world. Simply putting a post out there letting your connections know that you are looking to get into tech may bring out an opportunity that you never expected.
You can even just ask your friends or connections if they know anybody who's looking to hire for the type of positions you want. The right connection can give you a huge head start over the competition — and might even spark a career passion that lasts the rest of your life.
When it comes to technology, there are a million different things to learn that can improve your resume. Anything from understanding Salesforce to knowing how to post on WordPress might be useful to your next employer. Utilizing YouTube and learning from countless free videos is a great way to learn new skills and reinforce old ones.
Follow your interests and teach yourself about software and hardware in your free time. You'll be able to add these skills to your resume once you're competent at them, and they just might make the difference between getting hired and getting looked over.
While you might not have any direct experience, there are IT workers in every industry that use networks and computers (practically every industry out there). If you have years of experience in car sales, for example, it might help to look for an IT position at a car dealership. Understanding half of the business can go a long way towards making you a valuable employee right from the start, even if your tech skills aren't top-notch. You'll still have to start at the bottom, but it could be the perfect way to gain your first year or two of IT experience.
All in all, it is not impossible to start a career in IT with no experience — hence the word "start" — but many individuals are still skeptical of making the leap into IT. By arming yourself with the right tools and knowhow you can significantly increase your chances at starting a career in tech that will last a lifetime.
If you are looking for a partner in helping you move forward with an IT career, ACI Learning specializes in assisting individuals to do just this. Throughout our 13 years of helping individuals transform their lives, we have curated the perfect formula that takes into consideration career changers and the needs of the IT industry. This formula leads to higher employment rates because we provide relevant training for jobs that are in demand.
Our unrivaled success is achieved by focusing on both training and employment outcomes.
Here at ACI Learning, we know that making a decision like starting a new career is a difficult one and you should have someone to help guide you through this process. That's why we employ experts in the field to aid you in this transition. Their purpose is to understand your whole situation in order to help you make the right decision. They do this by analyzing your previous experiences, learning about your unique situation, and understanding your personal goals. If IT industry is right for you, they will search for any grants that you may qualify for and set up a personalized IT certification program around your schedule.
Interested in learning more about what a meeting with a Career Training Consultant is like and what you will learn from a one-on-one information session? Contact us to learn more!