How to Get Into IT and Build Your Career (With Tips)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated January 19, 2023
Published September 29, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
The IT industry is a fast-growing sector with many high-paying opportunities. IT professionals can choose from various roles, as information technology is relevant in almost every industry. Learning how to get into this industry can help you begin a long-lasting, well-paying career. In this article, we discuss what an IT professional is, explore how to get into IT, and provide tips for transitioning into the field and advancing your career.
What is an IT professional?
An IT professional is a person who works in the information technology (IT) sector. IT professionals work in various roles across many fields, such as finance, software development, cybersecurity, commerce, or academia. Typical positions in IT include:
information security analyst
user experience (UX) designer
How to get into IT
If you want to learn how to get into IT as a career, here are the steps you can take:
1. Get a bachelor's degree
Most positions in the IT industry require at least a bachelor's degree. Consider getting an undergraduate degree in technology, engineering, computer science, or another related field to help you develop technical skills and gain industry knowledge. Some schools offer specific programs in IT, although employers may also consider degrees from other relevant fields.
2. Choose a specialty
IT professionals take various computer courses during their undergraduate programs, but you may choose to specialize in one area. Choosing to specialize in the early stages of your career can help you hone relevant technical skills and gain professional experience in that area. When selecting your area of specialty, consider your skills, interests, and available employment opportunities. Some common areas of specialty include:
IT project management
Software analysis and development
3. Look for internships
During your undergraduate program, you can apply for internship positions in technology companies or any related industry. Applying for internship programs is an excellent opportunity to gain relevant work experience and develop technical skills. Internship programs can also help you develop interests, choose an area of specialty, and give you an excellent foundation to ensure your career growth.
4. Earn a graduate degree
Some positions in the information technology industry may require or prefer a master's degree. Earning a graduate degree can help you advance professionally while qualifying you for more challenging positions. When selecting your graduate program, consider your specialty, interests, and career goals. For example, if you want to become a business intelligence analyst, you may get a master's degree in data analytics and finance. Some graduate degrees to consider include:
IT security management
gig data and analytics
5. Create a resume
When applying for IT jobs, include only information relevant to the particular position. This includes your educational background, professional experience, technical and soft skills, and volunteer work. If you have little relevant experience, highlight your educational qualifications, achievements, and relevant certifications. You can also get an academic reference letter to support your resume.
6. Apply for entry-level positions
Many professionals start their careers in entry-level positions. These positions can give you an excellent opportunity to develop within a particular industry. Consider applying for local or remote entry-level job opportunities if you're a recent graduate or if you're switching from another field to IT.
7. Prepare for the interview
As part of your application process, prepare for technical and industry-related interview questions. Practise common IT interview questions, research the latest developments in the field, and read about the company's work culture. Then, think of example answers to demonstrate your skills, technical knowledge, and expertise to the hiring manager.
8. Consider freelancing opportunities
Freelancing is an excellent way for you to earn money while developing your skills in IT. Consider gaining professional experience and developing your skills while working as a freelancer for multiple companies. In addition, you can join various freelancing platforms and offer your services to clients.
Tips to ease your transition into IT
If you're looking to transition from another industry into information technology, here are some tips to ease the process:
Get industry certification
To transition to IT, getting industry-related certifications can help speed up your process. While getting a bachelor's degree may take up to four years to complete, it may only take a few weeks to obtain a certification. In addition, you can gain technical skills from various certified learning platforms that can serve as a foundation for your career. With these certifications, you can show potential employers you have the required technical skills to complete the tasks.
Apply your past qualifications
If you decide to transition into IT, focus on how your past qualifications and experiences can apply to your new career. Some employers may value your qualifications and expect you to bring new approaches to solving IT problems. For instance, a person with a degree in marketing can have the skills to analyze customer data and create effective strategies to improve business output. Specific adaptability skills you might have developed in your previous career may also help ease your transition into IT.
Look for crossover positions
As the IT industry is relevant in almost every sector, look for positions that align with your previous career and use it as your pathway into IT. For instance, if you used to work in finance, it may be easier for you to look for an IT position in the financial sector as a business analyst. Having a foundational understanding of the sector makes you a valuable employee and increases your chances of success.
Tips for advancing your career in IT
Here are some tips to help you advance your career as an IT professional:
Develop your skills
To succeed as an IT professional, you need a range of hard and soft skills to perform your duties. The necessary skills for IT professionals vary depending on the role and responsibilities. Some of the technical skills needed by IT professionals include programming, network setup, graphics design, encryption, cloud migration, data mining, and coding. Some soft skills include effective communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, and versatility. Proficiency in these skills can set you apart from other colleagues and help you advance faster in your chosen field.
Volunteer your services
Another way you can develop your skills and gain professional experience is by volunteering your services, especially in the early stages of your career. Consider reaching out to small businesses and individuals to offer your services for free. You can also develop a mobile application or a website as a form of charity. Volunteer work is also a good way to practise building networks. It can also serve as work experience on your resume when you're applying for entry-level jobs.
Earning additional certifications is a great way to develop and show your technical expertise. Some IT jobs may require you to gain some professional certifications before you can qualify for the role. Additional certification helps increase your qualifications and sets you apart from other people. It also grants you a specific skill set that can be vital in advancing your career.
Consider related roles
Some professionals start their careers in information technology-related roles in other industries. For instance, a person who wants to become a solutions engineer may start their career as a customer care representative. These types of jobs can help you develop relevant soft skills like good communication and problem-solving skills. Consider working in any related industry to help you develop transferrable skills to advance your IT career.
Read more: Transferable Skills: Definition and Examples
Build a professional network
Surround yourself with a network of professionals who can help you advance in your career. You can build networks by attending conferences and industry-related events or joining a community of IT professionals. With the right connections, you can get information on job opportunities, career advice, and other relevant tips that can help you advance in your field. Also, consider choosing a mentor who can guide you and help you achieve your professional goals.
Build a portfolio
A portfolio can be an excellent way to get into IT and advance your career by showing your expertise and qualifications to clients and potential employers. For instance, a web developer can include pictures and links to their works to show their quality. Consider creating a folder or drive for your best designs as your professional portfolio. Having a professional portfolio gives a client easy access to your work and see you as a thorough professional.
Continue to learn
The information technology industry grows continuously. To get into IT, and to be successful once you've landed a job, keeping up with the relevant technological advancements is essential. Consider researching new developments, taking courses, and attending seminars or events. Staying informed of these developments can help increase your knowledge in the field.
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