Whether you’re working a dead-end job or transitioning out of the military, everybody has different reasons to make the transition into the IT industry. And the timing couldn’t be better! The industry is facing a massive shortage of workers, offers great pay, amazing benefits, and lots of employment opportunities.
If you don’t have much experience, but you’re looking to join this thriving industry, don’t worry! You’re not the first. Check out our 7 tips for getting your foot in the door of the IT industry.
1. Re-examine and Apply Your Past Experience to 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.
2. Get Industry Certifications
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 cyber security 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 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, LeaderQuest’s A+ course offers hands-on computer builds taught by expert instructors with real-world experience.
3. Your Degree in Another Field May Be a Huge Asset
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 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 their unique perspectives.
4. Be Open to Starting at the Bottom
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 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 in a help desk position, within 5 years in the industry and a couple of cyber security certifications you could be looking at around 65k minimum in a Cyber Security Analyst role. It really depends on your willingness to move forward and the extra learning time you put in to master your craft.
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.
5. Don’t Forget the Power of Networking
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 to 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 knew about.
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.
6. Teach Yourself Relevant Tech Skills
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.
7. Look for Crossover Positions
While you might not have any direct experience, there are IT workers in every industry that use networks and computers ( pretty much 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, LeaderQuest 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.
We can help you open the door to an IT career!
Here at LeaderQuest, 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? Click the button below to find out!
If you’re considering enrolling at LeaderQuest, the first step in that process is an informational session with one of our expert Career Training Consultants (CTC). Our CTCs are trained to help connect students’ career aspirations with realistic training paths for the certifications they need to get hired into the roles they really want. This is an opportunity for us to get to know each other better, and to help you decide if certification training at LeaderQuest is right for you.
We take pride in having helped thousands of students advance or change their careers much faster than traditional educational options like Associate’s or Bachelor’s degrees.
Read on to learn more about what will be covered at your first meeting at LeaderQuest.
A Conversation With Your Career Training Consultant
First, you and your CTC will have a conversation about your background. They want to make sure that they’re able to match you with a training program that will fit your experience level as well as your desired career path. They’ll want to know about your employment history, educational background, and so on.
Your CTC will also want to know why you’ve decided that now is the time to get training to change industries or advance your career. For some this might be dissatisfaction with their current job role, or a life change that has made securing a higher income a new priority. We’re here to help you make that life change!
Skills Mapping & Career Pathing
Where do you want to be working in five years? What kind of salary are you looking to achieve? How about ten years from now? And how can you get from where you are now to where you want to be?
Based on your experience and skill set, your CTC will help you identify a career path that can help you reach your goals. For those just entering the industry, this will often include a program of foundational certifications that are in high demand with our employer partners and other IT employers in the area.
We’ll also examine steps you might want to take after your training is completed. For those who have no IT experience, it may take a few steps to get from tech support to cyber security analyst. We can help you plot out a course that will get you from A to B.
If you’re looking for intermediate or advanced certifications, we’ll make sure that you have the prerequisites to excel in these classes and sit for the exam. Some certifications, like PMP and CISSP, have strict requirements for who is eligible to take the test. We want to make sure that our students are primed for success in the classes they take at LeaderQuest.
Learn About LeaderQuest
If you have any questions about LeaderQuest, your CTC will be able to answer them for you. Our CTCs are experts in all things IT training, and they know the enrollment and training process front to back. Get into the details and ask them anything you want to know about:
Career Services at LeaderQuest
Instructor Mentors and Student Support
Study materials, practice exams, and hands-on labs
Class schedules, day or night classes, attending online or in person
And so on…
Discuss Funding Options for Your Training
If you’re interested in training at LeaderQuest, you’ll want to discuss how you’ll fund that training. Your enrollment at LeaderQuest covers your training, lab equipment, practice exams, study materials, textbooks, and the cost to sit for the exam, which can be as much as $500. We want to make sure that our students have all of the resources they need to be successful.
We accept GI Bill® funding, TAA, State Vocational Rehab, and funding from local workforce centers. We have a few educational loan options with various rates that cover the full cost of tuition. Your CTC can walk you through these options, and help you with the application process.
Tour the Campus
Your CTC will show you around the LeaderQuest facilities at your campus so that you can get an idea of where you’d be studying (if you’re planning on attending on campus) and possibly meet some of our instructors and other staff. We want to make sure you’re comfortable with your learning environment and ready to start training in new skills.
Create a Personalized Training Plan
This is your roadmap to the future!
Based on everything you’ve discussed, you’ll walk away with a personalized training plan. This training plan includes a list of the classes you’ll attend, class schedules, information about those classes and what they cover, the career you’d like to pursue after completing training, and information about possible funding options.
Take this plan home with you and think it over. If you have any questions, you’ll have your CTC’s phone number and email so that you can reach out to them and get the answers you need. When you’re ready, just give us a call and we can help you with the enrollment process.
Schedule an Information Session Today!
If you’re thinking about taking the next step in your career, LeaderQuest can help. Schedule an information session at the campus nearest you.
We are excited to announce that a new Instructor Mentor role has been implemented across all of our campuses! The Instructor Mentor is an experienced, certified, technical trainer who will be scheduled to teach only half of the time. The rest of their time will be spent supporting and preparing students for exams.
This role represents LeaderQuest’s commitment to helping students at every step of their IT training journey. While some students excel at their exams without any aid, we recognized that others needed a stronger support system. Our classes give students all the knowledge they need to pass their exams, but some students may need to study more to feel confident while taking the test.
Instructor Mentor Responsibilities
The Instructor Mentor will support students after completion of class through successful completion of exams. To do this, they’ll have an open door for students who need individual help, set up study groups, and create exam prep classes. Instructor Mentors work from approximately 1pm – 10pm so they can support both day and night students.
In addition to the above activities, Instructor Mentors will also proactively identify and engage students that are having any difficulties and work with them to overcome these obstacles with personalized tools and strategies.
Expected areas of improvement moving forward will be reflected in overall student satisfaction, increased exam pass rates, increased employment rates and retention rates. Students will be less overwhelmed having a personal coach who is experienced and can relate. Personalized study plans will cater to the individual learner increasing their opportunity for a successful career in IT.
Methods of Student Support
The Instructor Mentor supports the students through five different avenues. Each student can take advantage of this resource in the way that best fits their schedule and learning style.
The Instructor Mentor will be available for one-on-one study sessions as needed. Students can schedule this time within office hours, and can meet with the mentor online or in person.
Creating Study Plans with Touch Points
A plan that is created with the Instructor Mentor and the student leading up to taking the exam. These are designed to help the student cover all of the skills and study topics needed to pass their exam with confidence.
Touchpoints can include:
Completion of labs at 80% or higher
Completion of exam prep questions at 80% or higher
An exam date goal
Group Study Sessions
Instructor mentors will schedule regular group study sessions where students can help each other study with the guidance of their Instructor Mentor.
Exam Prep Classes
Our first prep class is the Advanced Security+ exam prep class. This class has increased the Security exam pass rate by 17% since implementation in 2018! In the near future, the creation of an exam prep class for each course we offer will be in place and taught by Instructor Mentors.
Instructor Mentors teach skills labs to make sure students have achieved mastery of the necessary application of the knowledge learned in the classroom. For example, a PC Build Lab has been implemented to allow students to build a PC from scratch and then troubleshoot the PC. Hands on application is important for students to gain confidence as they strive for a career in IT.
Meet our New Instructor Mentors!
Specialty: Network Administration & Security
Education: BSEE & MSEE from The University of Alabama at Birmingham
Industry Experience: 20+ years in IT implementation project management and over nine years in IT field service
Fun Facts: KJ is addicted to great coffee and imports Yemeni coffee. A former LeaderQuest student, KJ completed the curriculum and certifications in a very short period of time and has returned to mentor students. His goal is to help them quickly pass their certification exams.
More About KJ: Starting in 2004, after KJ graduated from UT Austin, he successfully co-founded a startup real estate website. In 2006 he founded of his own startup real estate website. KJ has consulted on e-commerce platforms including Wholly Guacamole. He completed a government contract for DFW Technologies as a Support Specialist with Trinity River Authority.
Education: Bachelor of Science in Math, with a Secondary Education/Computer Science Minor – Concordia College, Moorhead, MN
Master of Information Technology – Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)
Certifications: CompTIA Security+, CompTIA A+, Certified Scrum Master, Mobile Learning Developer, and Instructional Designer
Fun Facts: Greg is a novelist with two published cyber-espionage/warfare novels: In Plain Sight and Firestorm. You can check them out at http://www.greggardnerbooks.com. He enjoys travelling (especially in Europe), fishing, snowshoeing, and hiking.
More About Greg: Greg has spent over 30 years of in the IT and training industry. He is a former Naval Officer. Greg was a shift supervisor/operations lead at Microsoft’s Global Data Center, created network operations centers at several dot com companies, created a virtual help desk for a university system, and was a Technical Director for Online Learning Technologies at a Washington DC-based consulting firm. He has taught IT courses such as the entire MCSE suite, A+, Security+, as well as programming and Microsoft application courses at private IT training companies, and at the high school and collegiate levels.
Greg enjoys using his expertise and experience to help others achieve their goals and objectives. Many have written in evaluations of his presentations that he has a fantastic ability to “talk tech to non-techies.”
Greg is also a speaker at national conferences, an author of numerous technology-based blogs and magazine articles, and has written several cyber-espionage novels.
Specialty: IT All-Arounder
Education: Associate of Science in Network Engineering, Bachelor of Science in Security Technology, Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity currently in progress
Fun Facts: Eugene enjoys traveling to different countries to try new foods, ethical hacking to help businesses against cyber threats, playing the bass guitar, and going to anime conventions for the new line-up serious.
His favorite saying is, “I win or learn, but I never lose.”
More About Eugene: Eugene comes from a military family background and has served 6 years in the Army. He will achieve his Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity in about 2 months, and his next goal is to obtain the CISSP certification. He has been involved in the IT Industry since the mid-1990s with the privilege of serving in various civilian and government projects.
Come train with our Instructor Mentors!
If you’ve been thinking about making a career change, consider IT! LeaderQuest can help you get trained, certified and hired in 3 months or less. We support our students through every part of this process, including state of the art facilities and learning materials, onsite Instructor Mentors ready to help, and a devoted Career Services team at each campus.
If you’re ready to take the next step in your career, contact LeaderQuest today! We can help you identify a career path and the steps you’ll need to get you there.
When you’re standing on the precipice of a new career, taking the plunge can be scary. No one likes being stuck in a job they hate, but getting out takes hard work, grit, and a little luck. You might know that IT is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, but deciding to make it your new career isn’t easy.
Never fear! If you’re thinking about going into information technology, we’ve prepared a list of pros and cons so you can decide for yourself if the world of tech is right for you. This list builds on research from our 2016 article but includes more stats and more considerations for IT professional jobs.
Stress & Constant Complaints vs. Great Salary & Benefits Package
Let’s not beat around the bush about the hardest part of IT. You’re interacting with people whose patience has been ground down until they’re ready to throw their computers out the window. This is especially true for the Help Desk.
What’s more, for people employed in positions such as Systems Administrators, Network Engineers, or anything cyber security related, even a small screw up can mean big problems for a company and its data. With cyber security horror stories floating around, it’s bound to be high pressure.
Fortunately, with big risk comes big rewards in terms of IT professional salary. Even for entry-level Help Desk positions, the salary midpoint is around $38,000 and can go as high as $54,000, according to the Robert Half 2018 Technology & IT Salary Guide. Again, that’s just entry-level. Systems Administrators are in huge demand with starting salaries at $67,000 that can go as high as $113,000 while Network Engineers make anywhere from $90,000 to $150,000.
The real money is in cyber security which has an unprecedented need for new professionals. More and more, companies are prioritizing people who are willing to learn quickly. Many positions garner over $100,000 with the salary for a seasoned, specialized professional such as Data Security Analyst between $100,000 and $170,000.
As you can see, the pay scale for IT professionals is a huge draw. Employers use a number of other incentives and benefits to snag the top talent like signing bonuses, health insurance, generous vacation time, and professional development opportunities. Perks are also a big draw and can include flexible work schedules, social events, telecommuting, onsite/offsite gym access, a compressed schedule, and even free/subsidized meals.
Long Hours vs. Flexible Hours
Unfortunately, tech problems don’t work on a 9 am – 5 pm schedule. They can strike at 6 am or five minutes before you were planning to leave. This is definitely a job that asks much of its employees and that’s no different when it comes to their time.
Fortunately, companies understand that and deeply appreciate and value the time of their IT pros. They want you to be rested, de-stressed, and ready to deal with whatever the servers throw at you.
This sometimes means you can pick your own schedule, work on a compressed schedule, or even telecommute (work from home). This is great for anyone who hates getting stuck in traffic at the end of the 9-5 slog.
No One Understands Your Job vs. Unparalleled Job Security
IT comes with an almost endless number of specializations. Do you want to work on securing networks? Fighting cyber attacks? Or maybe you’re just interested in updating and maintaining systems? No matter what, there’s a field for you.
Unfortunately, that means that people at your company won’t always understand what your duties include. You could be a Systems Administrator, but still get asked to fix someone’s home computer. You’ll be the go-to tech expert, even about stuff that’s definitely not in your job description. What’s next? Fix their iPhone? Debug their Fitbit? Talk about scope creep.
On the flip side, being an IT pro comes with unparalleled job security. Of Business Insider’s list of 26 careers with the best job security, two were IT positions. This is especially true for cyber security. According to the nonprofit group ISACA, there will be a shortage of two million cyber security professionals by 2019.
Meanwhile, the nonprofit group Cyberseek reports that 40,000 jobs for information security analysts go unfilled every year while employers are struggling to fill 200,000 other cyber-security related roles. You will be valued. You will be needed. Most importantly, you will be hard to replace and that’s a good feeling.
People Lie and Lie vs. Challenging and Exciting Work
How did your computer get a virus? Why do all these pop-up ads have the name of a website you shouldn’t be browsing at work? Why is there peanut butter and mustard smeared all over the keyboard? (And why are you eating peanut butter and mustard? That’s just weird.)
Personal snafus with the computer are embarrassing. No one wants to own up to that dumb thing they did. However, figuring out what’s wrong can be frustrating when people aren’t honest about how the computer got messed up.
What’s worse than your coworkers lying to you? Vendors lying to you. In this article from Tech Republic, they discuss the difficulty of debugging software from a third party when their support won’t admit that something’s wrong. (Our software? Buggy? Never!)
You can also expect to be lied to by vendors’ technical support departments. I have lost count of the number of support technicians over the years who have told me that a problem is not related to their software, but rather to the computer’s hardware or to the operating system. And of course I won’t even begin to talk about the number of vendors who have lied to me in an effort to make a sale.
On the bright side, what makes this job difficult also makes it challenging and even fun. IT is all about solving problems and that’s reflected in job satisfaction. A whopping 61% of IT professionals in one poll said they feel appreciated by their bosses and coworkers. And, if you ever don’t feel appreciated, you know you can find somewhere that does appreciate you.
Overwhelming Amount of Choices vs. Mobility and Options
Whether you’re interested in working on hardware, software, networks, databases, cloud security, or more, there’s a niche for you. Picking your career path can be nerve-wracking, to say the least. You can get bogged down in a specialization before you realize that it’s not where you want to be. No one wants to be extra-qualified in something they hate.
Fortunately, that also means qualified professionals have many options and career mobility. Since there’s such a tremendous need, especially for cyber security, more employers are embracing nontraditional paths for employment. IT certifications, which qualify and verify your skills, are one of the best ways to show employers you’ve got the right stuff.
With the ever-widening cyber gap, employers are more likely to invest in someone who shows they’re willing to keep on top of the updates on their own time, even if they don’t have picture perfect experience on their resume. Quick learning and the passion for improvement are invaluable commodities.
And this specialization pays off. Again, the Robert Half Salary guide found that employers may increase salaries between five to ten percent for professionals with sought-after skills and certifications. If you’re interested in getting started quickly, especially with cyber security, IT is a no-brainer.
Ultimately, it’s a matter of personal preference. Some people can’t handle the long hours, difficult work, and stress of interacting with people at their most frantic. However, if you’re interested in challenging and exciting work where you get to solve problems, you could have a long, well-paying IT career ahead of you with salary and benefits.
If you’re interested in becoming an IT pro, but don’t have the time or money for a four-year degree, IT certifications can be a great way to get into the field. At LeaderQuest, we offer 5-15 day courses that get you ready to pass the exam, get certified, and put those skills to use in the working world in no time. We focus on the It professional certifications that employers want the most, like Security+, CCNA and Certified Ethical Hacker.
We know that you have responsibilities. That’s why we offer classes during the day and at night. Whether you prefer to take classes on campus or online, you’ll be getting access to our expert instructors who will prepare you to kick butt on the exam and teach you to excel in your new IT professional career.
Ready to start your IT career? If you’d like to learn more about careers in IT, check out our 2019 IT Career Finder! Choosing an IT career can be a daunting task. You must balance personal experience and aptitude against the likely future of the role, both in terms of earnings and the number of IT job positions that will be available in coming years. We created this guide to help connect the dots between your skills and IT job descriptions and duties to help you find your path to becoming an IT professional!
Interested in a career in information technology or cyber security?
We can help you choose an IT career path! Join our mailing list, and we’ll send you our 2019 IT Careerfinder white paper, totally free!
Choosing an IT career can be a daunting task. You must balance personal experience and aptitude against the likely future of the role, both in terms of earnings and the number of IT job positions that will be available in coming years. If you’re considering an IT career or specifically, a career in cyber security, we have good news for you! Business is booming and there are more IT job postings for these occupations with every passing year.
If you’re wondering about jobs in information technology that might be perfect for you, download the guide below!
Sign up for our IT Career Training White Paper
What’s in the Careerfinder?
This white paper contains useful information on six IT careers in demand, including:
Computer User Support Specialists
Computer Network Support Specialists
Network and Computer Systems Administrators
Computer Network Architects
Information Security Analysts
Computer and Information Systems Managers
For each of these occupations, we can help answer important questions, like:
What do people in this role do every day?
Is this occupation expected to grow?
What salary do people in this occupation earn?
What skills are required for this occupation?
What certifications are required for this occupation?
Are you interested in IT certification?
LeaderQuest can help you get the IT certifications you need to get that promotion or career change you’ve been looking for! Speak with one of our IT career training consultants today and make the change you’ve been waiting for. We’re experts on careers in the IT industry, and we’d love to help you get hired.