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!
Finding a career you enjoy is not an easy task, especially when you are unemployed and your skills are not in demand. The snowball effect from being fired, being laid off, or an extended stint of unemployment can be detrimental to one’s well being and one’s future career. As of January 2019, the amount of persons in the United States that are burdened by unemployment is over 6.5 million.
On the other side of the employment spectrum there is a massive shortage of skilled workers across the United States, especially in the IT industry with over 350,000 current openings in the cybersecurity sector alone! So how do you solve both of these problems at once?
The solution is the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act or WIOA for short.
WIOA is landmark legislation designed to help job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy.
Since its inception in 2014 WIOA has helped approximately 20 million individuals a year.
What is the purpose of WIOA?
This legislation was put in place to help foster economic stability by analyzing each state’s employment needs and strategically funding programs to help employers fill open positions with skilled workers. In this way, WIOA helps solve the unemployment shortage and skilled workers shortage at the same time. Each state is responsible for developing and submitting a strategy for preparing an educated and skilled workforce to meet the needs of its local employers.
In order to develop this workforce, unemployed individuals often require different kinds of help to become fully capable of making the transition. For example, some individuals might need help paying their bills and supporting their family while receiving the training.
This allows states to include and combine key programs such as temporary assistance programs and technical education programs (such as LeaderQuest’s Computer User Support Specialist Program) that help job seekers acquire industry-recognized credentials for in-demand jobs. This creates a comprehensive plan for individuals to go from unskilled and unemployed to skilled and employed.
What training programs qualify?
Since job seekers are funded through taxes, the programs that they receive funding for must adhere to certain performance indicators to ensure the quality and effectiveness of the program so that money is not being wasted. First, the program must align with the state’s plan to fulfill the hiring needs of local employers.
Other performance indicators include:
The percentage of trainees that were successful in obtaining the desired credentials after training.
The measurable skills gains of unskilled to skilled job seekers.
The percentage of job seekers that found employment after training.
The percentage of workers that retained employment after training.
The median wages of workers hired after training.
Who qualifies for funding for training and assistance programs?
Depending on your specific situation you may or may not qualify for WIOA funding. There are also different priorities based on your previous education and eligibility for other government programs.
Factors that will affect your eligibility include:
Employment Status and Reason Unemployed
Eligibility for other funding
Relation to a military servicemen
If you qualify you could be on the road to a bright new future today! Ready to find out if you qualify? We put together a complete guide and worksheet to help determine your WIOA Fund eligibility. The worksheet and guide can be found there (here)
Note: This is not an official guide and is intended to give you a general idea if you do or do not qualify for WIOA funding. Any final decision of qualification will be determined by a caseworker at your local Workforce Center.
Your local Workforce Center is designed to help you get employed by offering a wide variety of services for anyone who needs them. This ranges from the basics of computer and internet access to career guidance and resume help. Some workforce centers will even help with child care services during your job search so you can attend training and interviews.
A great service to take advantage of is the skills assessment. This assessment will assess your previous jobs, roles, and any other relevant experience to tease out any skills that may lead to a fulfilling career.
Is starting a new career right for me?
You might be asking yourself if you could benefit from WIOA or how training might help you move forward into a stable career. There are usually worries and anxiety that come with the thought of training for a new career, but are those fears worth losing out on a great opportunity? That is for you to decide, but arming yourself with the right knowledge can tremendously improve your confidence in your ability to make this decision.
To help answer some of these questions and give you an idea of the opportunity at hand we will analyze of one of the most in-demand industries in the world, Information Technology, and give you an example of an individual’s journey from beginning to end through the WIOA process.
As previously mentioned, for a program to get the funding to train individuals, this program must align with the state’s plan to fulfill the needs of local employers. This means that there must be a demand for the industry the program trains and certifies jobs seekers for.
Fortunately for IT, there is no shortage of demand! By 2021, there will be an estimated 3.5 million open cyber security positions worldwide. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026 for Information Security Analysts is a whopping 28%! Compare that to the average growth rate for all occupations at 7%.
Salaries for IT Careers
Entry level IT salaries range from $30,000 to $40,000 ($15.50 to $19.23 per hour) annually. In IT there is a clear path to advance your career and plenty of opportunity. Salaries in this field can quickly move to $50,000 to $60,000 ($24.40 to $28.85 per hour) range as you gain more experience, as illustrated in the graph below.
The combination of the high demand for skilled IT workers and low supply creates a situation that forces companies to pay well and provide lucrative benefits in order to retain employees. Because of this, the climate for IT employment is at an all-time high in favor of job seekers in this field. With a wide gamut of careers in this field, job seekers can easily draw from previous experience to find a career the would enjoy in IT.
A WIOA Student Journey
Have you ever been interested in what makes the modern world tick? Ross Earnheart had always been interested in computers, but his journey in the military never gave him the opportunity to explore that passion.
After Ross separated from the military he was directionless without anyone to guide him to a career he would enjoy. Not knowing what to do, he got a job through a friend and began working day in and day out. Ross worked a job that did not challenge him nor offer any room for advancement. Fed up with his job, Ross decided to head to his local unemployment office and see what his options were.
To Ross’s surprise, he actually qualified for WIOA funding and was recommended to LeaderQuest by his caseworker who knew that Ross had a possible interest in IT.
“As soon as I found out about all of the different kinds of jobs and careers and everything else you can do in the IT world it just opened my mind” – Ross Earnheart
Ross contacted LeaderQuest and got set up for a one on one meeting with a Career Training Consultant. The job of the Career Training Consultant is to assess if an IT career is a good fit by analyzing the person’s ambitions, salary goals, past skills, and willingness to learn.
After determining that an IT career would be a good fit for Ross, his Career Training Consultant then put the training into motion by scheduling his courses and working with the unemployment office to secure his WIOA funding. Ross took the Computer User Support Specialist entry-level IT program which trains students with the skills and knowledge required to achieve the ITIL, CompTIA A+, Network+, and Security+ industry standard certifications. This program exposes students to multiple facets of IT including best practices, desktop support, networking, and cyber security.
LeaderQuest’s IT Training & Certification Courses
Each course includes 40 hours of training, taken over 5 weekdays at 8 hours/day (full time) or 10 weeknights at 4 hours/night (part time).
To fit your time schedule, these course can be spread out or taken back to back.
Through WIOA, you may be eligible to receive other benefits to cover your bills while training.
Once Ross finished his courses he continued to work with our Career Services team to develop his resume, cover letter, and interviewing skills. The LeaderQuest Career Services team has fostered partnerships with local companies to fill their IT positions as well as sources outside positions to get students hired quickly.
Ross was subsequently hired by a local academy as an Information Technology Specialist. He is now out in the real world making a real difference for his community and family, and it all started with his decision to start a new career in IT at LeaderQuest.
Are you ready to consider a career in IT?
If you are looking for a new career, you should consider IT! WIOA was designed for individuals like yourself who are looking for a fresh start in a new career that has a bright future. You already possess skills that could be perfect for an IT career, and you have a company willing to help you through every step of this transition.
With the possibility of your training and bills being paid for during the duration of your training, maybe it is time to take a step in the right direction and speak with a LeaderQuest representative today.
Want to see if you qualify for WIOA funding? Please download our worksheet below. Remember that this worksheet does not qualify/disqualify you from any WIOA funds but can give you an idea of the requirements in your area. We recommend that you speak with a professional at your local unemployment office to find out for sure if you qualify. We hope that this blog has armed you with the knowledge to make decisions about your future. If you are considering a career in IT, consider LeaderQuest!
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!
Unless you were raised in a remote village beyond the reach of modern society you have most likely heard the term Information Technology or “IT” for short, be used to describe a wide variety of industries, jobs and technology, but have you ever stopped to ask yourself, “What exactly is IT?” or “Where did it come from?” IT is quite possibly the most integral part of our modern civilization, acting as not only the glue that holds it together but also the catalyst that propels it forward.
With its incomprehensible ability to connect the world, destroy the world, and help humanity explore the possibilities of the universe, it is time that we take the time to help people understand Information Technology.
In helping individuals understand IT, we hope to bring a heightened awareness to the vulnerabilities and tremendous opportunities that lie ahead for this invisible yet powerful force that drives our everyday lives. To understand IT’s current and future state we must start at its origins and how it has transformed throughout the years.
The Origins of Information Technology
Information Technology: the study or use of systems (especially computers and telecommunications) for storing, retrieving, and sending information.
By this definition you could say that Information Technology has been around some 65,000 years, the age estimation of the earliest known cave paintings where humans were most likely recording what they saw in everyday life.
Information Technology is no stranger to evolution, it evolves hand in hand with humans and our unquenchable thirst to advance.
From ancient cave drawings to alphabets and words, the complexity of what we could create has only been limited by how long it takes us to come up with improvements in Information Technology.
In 1945, the development of a stored program concept allowed for programs to be read into a computer. It’s significance may have not been completely realized at the time but the possibilities of Information Technology had grown exponentially because of it. This development laid the foundation for the unprecedented achievements that took place in IT for the next 50 years.
Notable achievements that led to modern IT.
1975– MITS, The first personal computer was released.1973– Bob Metcalfe, the invention of the ethernet.
(using medium such as coax as an either to send and receive data)
In 1993, after developing the World Wide Web, CERN put the software in the public domain making it free of charge for anyone to use. Once again Information Technology was reborn, but this time it was different. It was now a truly collective technology for individuals and enterprises to improve upon and utilize for their own endeavors. This opened up the flood gates for Information Technology and ushered in what is know as the Information Age.
Modern Information Technology
The driving force behind the continual advancement of Information Technology can be explained in one sentence.
“Humans want to store, recover, and share as much information as possible as quickly as possible in order to learn as much as possible.”
The use of any computers, storage, networking and other physical devices, infrastructure and processes to create, process, store, secure and exchange all forms of electronic data.
This means that every computer device and all vital technology related to these computers’ functions and operations, including the jobs involved, fall under “Information Technology.” This term can be broken into 6 sectors: IT support, Networking, Cyber Security, Computer Systems, Programming, and the World Wide Web. Yeah, that’s a lot of different things!
World wide, in 2019 there are an estimated 26 billion devices connected to the internet. In 2025, That number is expected to explode to over 75 billion!
To put that in perspective, that’s about 3.4 devices for every man, woman, and child on the planet.
Those astronomical numbers almost seem too high to be true, but when you think about it, in the United States the average person most likely has a computer, cell phone, router, and possibly a smartwatch or Google Home. That’s 5 right there, and soon almost every bit of tech available will be internet connected. Even vehicles!
IT Devices & Networks Create More IT Jobs
With all of of this tech, lots of humans are needed to create, install, maintain, and protect it all.
According to CompTIA’s 2018 Cyberstates Report, in the United States from 2010 to 2017 over 1.5 million tech jobs were added. This trend is showing no signs of slowing down, with shortages of workers in all 6 sectors of Information Technology.
The 6 categories of jobs for Information Technology can be defined as:
IT Support Technicians provide assistance for individuals having technical problems with hardware and software.
Networking Technicians set up, administer, maintain and upgrade networks, allowing devices to interact with networks.
Cyber Security Experts protect systems, networks, and programs from digital attacks.
Computer Systems Analysts are the multitaskers of information technology; they have to understand computer hardware, software, and networks—and make them work together.
Programmers write and test the code that makes up software programs.
Web Developers build websites and the infrastructure behind them.
The Huge IT Worker Shortage
Cyber security has been hit particularly hard by this shortage. By 2021, there will be an estimated 3.5 million open cyber security positions world wide. With average cyber security salaries of $116,000, or approximately $55.77 per hour, why is the industry having trouble filling such desirable positions?
For example, compared to a traditional 4 year degree, in less than 3 months, day or night, individuals can get trained, certified, and employed into the IT industry by attending our Computer User Support Specialist program for individuals with little to no IT experience.
Careers in Cyber security and the other IT sectors typically start off in a technical support role, which the Computer User Support Specialist program here at LeaderQuest is specifically designed for. As seen in this chart from Competitive Position’s salary report, the earning opportunity for IT professionals only grows over time time.
The great part about entering the IT industry with the Computer User Support Specialist is that students gain exposure to multiple areas within IT, so when they start to advance their career they know what area suites them and their future best.
There’s also a massive shortage of upper level talent in IT. A great way to move forward in an IT career is to pick a certain area to specialize in. Specialized positions command a higher salary and are in very high demand right now. For those looking to specialize in cyber security, our Information Security Analyst program is a great next step, and for those looking to get into networking, our Network Administrator program can take your from a intermediate to advanced network professional in just a few weeks. For every step of your career we have a program that can help you take advantage of this booming industry in order to create a brighter future for you and your family.
Is the Term “IT” Still Relevant?
Some argue that the term “Information Technology” is a misrepresentation of modern IT and all it encompasses, but this term has engraved itself so deeply into the modern psyche, it shows no sign of leaving us anytime soon. Like the ancient cave carvings created by our ancestors, the mediums and uses of Information Technology will continue to evolve with humans.
The bottom line is Information Technology will be around as long as there are humans around. For us to ignore the opportunities presented by Information Technology and to neglect the problems threatening its advancement will only hurt us in the long run. That is why understanding IT and it’s many facets is necessary for anyone interested in moving forward in our current society.
LeaderQuest is on a mission to help people improve their lives through IT training. Lives are not only improved through starting a stable career but through the outstanding salaries offered by these IT positions. By doing our part in helping fill the jobs gap, we are participating in advancement of Information Technology which will continue to help mankind come together and solve the world’s problems.
Are you interested in starting a career in the IT industry? Check out our 2019 IT Career Finder guide where you can learn about different IT positions, what those people do, the skills needed to get the job, and what they pay.
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
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“But I don’t want to back up now. I will do it tomorrow, I promise.”
Is there a soul alive who has created digital data who has not been exposed to the concept of data backup (redundancy) in case of that data vanishing?
It does not seem likely. Similar to insurance, no one wants to buy insurance (or even talk about it), but what could the consequences be if we don’t create a data backup when appropriate, and a catastrophe occurs?
Vanishing data could be caused by a disk drive crash, a malware attack, an electrical surge, a disk drive data capture such as with ransomware, and other miscellaneous actions like device theft. What about operating system (OS) and program files? Should they be backed up along with associated data files?
Digital data does not always refer to data created with computers or computer networks. Cameras, cell phones, smart TVs, DVRs, and a host of other electronic devices can be included in this conversation.
The dominant factor in redundancy preparation is almost always determined by the value of the digital data. Let’s consider some of the basic concepts of why backing up digital information should be considered. First, I hope this story sets the tone.
Floppy Disk Backup at ComputerLand
In 1983, I was working for ComputerLand, a retail computer store in Oklahoma City. During the 1980s, ComputerLand was the largest retail computer enterprise in the U.S. which showcased Apple and IBM personal computers as their anchor products.
A client of ours, a mail order company, burned completely to the ground. They were within a hair of completely losing their business, employees losing their jobs, and lives changing forever. However, someone had the foresight to have completed a backup of the entire company database on floppy disks and had secured it in their fire safe. The data remained intact during the burn.
Because they were a client, management offered (free of charge) to take that large stack of 5¼ inch floppy disks and restore them to a new 10 megabyte hard disk. For three days, all day long, many of us took turns restoring (inserting one disk, then another) their database back to a usable state using the PC DOS Restore utility – one 360K floppy disk at a time. A very slow process, but a business was saved!
Why is Having a Backup So Important?
Organizations (or anyone) who loses a whole building and everything in it, like in the 9/11 disaster or the Oklahoma City bombing, and do not have an off-site backup store, have a very high chance of losing their business.
Losing a business this way depends on more than one factor, including the type of business. For example, an ice cream store that loses data due to a lightning strike can open up their doors the next day and commence scooping ice cream again, without too much consternation.
But a financial institution or an online company where data availability is critical creates a much different circumstance if data is compromised at any level.
So what are the primary reasons to keep an accurate backup of business data?
The first concept, and perhaps the dominant one, is the concept of livelihood. Today’s business records are kept almost completely in digital format and stored locally and/or online. Data is produced and kept on just about every type of transaction imaginable. Losing just the right kind and amount of data can create a reduction or complete elimination of positions within any type of organization.
When data is lost, jobs can be lost, bills potentially may not be paid, and lives can be changed. A relatively simple task of backing up data to multiple locations can prevent many recovery challenges.
Next, is the concept of legality. Organizations that accumulate data under restrictions of legal authority must take extra caution when planning a data backup strategy. For example, losing financial or medical data due to carelessness or poor planning may have a cost of more than just data loss. Government watchdogs could be looming.
Going to court, paying for and defending yourself or your company, does not seem to be a highly productive activity for any person or organization. Legal issues can drain human and financial resources, as well as lower personal or corporate morale.
There is a reason why there are many underground and above ground secure data centers (also known as data backup storage centers or bunkers) scattered around the world. Many financial (and other) institutions send backup copies of their data to these secure data bunker centers. Backups are usually in the form of digital tape media. They can be delivered (overnight) to these centers after the day’s business activity ends and the backups are completed. Many organizations have dedicated “backup personnel” with the responsibility of seeing that their organizations’ redundancy process is completed in a timely manner.
The majority of organizations that produce data may not be under the constraints of legal or mandatory data redundancy. However, as a matter of policy they may incorporate programs to protect their data. This can include part of or all of the following: local tape drive backups, hard drive imaging (exact copy of the hard drive in use), R.A.I.D. (Redundant Array of Independent Disks), server imaging to remote locations, copying data files to offline hard disks or to optical media (CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, Blu Ray), and a host of other partial procedures.
For Windows users, partial redundancies could include creating a Windows Recovery Drive, a copied backup of the Windows Registry, or using the Windows Restore Point feature. For Mac (Apple Macintosh) systems, Remote Disc, or Time Machine are built-in utilities for easy access. Linux and UNIX operating systems have a multitude of backup programs available. Many are open source and free; others may be unique to the specific Linux distribution, such as Ubuntu or Red Hat. A simple internet search will provide many hours of backup education.
Convenience, or rather extreme inconvenience, is a minimum description if a dataset is lost and redundancy is non-existing. Really! Does this need much explanation? How inconvenient would it be to lose your livelihood, go to court, or explain to superiors or customers that their data is lost?
A data catastrophe, (i.e., a hard drive crash) is bad enough. But in IT (information technology) crash terms, convenience is having an identical and up-to-date dataset within close access and all that is needed is for a handy tech to install it and get the system up and running again within minutes! Redundancy planning and implementation can be acutely convenient compared to the alternative.
How to Backup Data
Tools available today for data backup and security are seemingly unlimited. Discussing the dozens of tools could take many books to break down the specific software and hardware options and how they relate to the multiple operating systems used by different organizations. Instead, here are some basic technologies popular today.
The first is not a specific technology, but is a key consideration – planning. Optimal data recovery depends on optimal planning.
Planning Ahead for Optimal Recovery
Optimal planning consists of understanding what backup technologies are available, how they are installed, their function, how they are maintained, the level of technical sophistication, the costs involved, and understanding the procedures used to restore lost datasets. It has been said that “no two computer networks are the same.” This means that perhaps no two data backup strategies would be the same even on very similar networks.
Components of a successful backup plan can consist of three major categories: operating system (OS) files, program files, and data files. As mentioned, data is the primary target – both for a backup strategy and for hackers. However, having intact OS and program files can eliminate hours of additional labor restoring a hard drive. They are not as critical because organizations have them either in their possession or have the licenses to be downloaded and reinstalled.
Are data the only backup targets? OS and program files will have to be reinstalled as well. In addition, they may have to be updated. Updating to the most recent versions of these files also has the potential of adding additional time to recovery. It is almost a certainty that in today’s internet climate, not updating OS and program files can lead to security risks and software operation glitches. Organizations may also want to create a backup security policy to protect these backups. Consider having a backup plan meeting to create a plan and get approval for it.
Copy & Paste
But what is a computer backup? You have probably already used the most common backup technique! The most common utility known for duplicating files for safekeeping is the copy feature offered by all common operating systems. While copy is not considered a formal backup strategy, it is widely used to create file redundancy. It’s quick and easy to use.
Windows graphical user interface (GUI) users know the copy command (Ctrl+C) as copy-n-paste or cut-n-paste. Other copy commands in Microsoft Windows, MS-DOS, and PC-DOS operating systems are xcopy.exe and robocopy.exe. These are used from the command line and offer more features than the easy to use copy command. More complex data backup software is also available.
Many of the Linux distributions that have a GUI offer the copy and paste function. From the Linux command line, the cp utility can be used.
Mac users also have copy and paste functions. OS X offers both copy and paste and cut and paste functions. The copy and paste function can be done two ways: Command+C or Command+V, and using the mouse and the Option key.
Backup media is not discussed in detail here. Backup media generally includes one or more of the following: magnetic tape systems, external or internal (to the computer) hard disk drives, USB (jump/thumb) drives, optical media such as CD-ROMs, DVDs, and Blu Ray, remote backup servers (computers located in another location such as across the room or in another city), or online secure data backup.
Full, Differential, Incremental vs. R.A.I.D.
Data backup strategies vary widely. Two common strategies than have been around since the 1970’s and 1980’s are full, differential, and incremental, as well as R.A.I.D. These are not strategies necessarily to be used in place of the other, but rather to be used with each other to help provide the most secure redundancy possible. Each strategy performs very different services and can be used with various kinds of data backup software.
The full strategy functions almost like it sounds. Although all strategies have software settings allowing customization, the full backup service is designed to fully backup “everything” on a hard disk drive. This includes all OS, program, and data files. Should a computer hard disk drive become unusable or stolen, the full strategy can be used to create an identical state of the hard disk drive at the moment the full backup strategy was completed.
The advantage of the full strategy is important. Only one file is created containing everything on the hard disk drive. All data, programs, OS and user settings are kept intact. Restore the file to a new or blank hard disk and everything should be exactly as the moment before the backup process began. It’s fairly easy to copy or distribute a single file to provide additional security for the backed up file.
Challenges also follow the full strategy. That one single file is often enormous in size. Depending on how much information is on a hard disk drive, it can take hours for the backup process to complete. It can also take hours for the file to reassemble on a new hard disk drive during the restore process. The backup file only contains data as of the date of backup. Any changes made since the backup are not included. Individual files are not accessible, meaning that to access any programs, folders, or files on the backed up media, the backup file would have to be restored first. This can be an inconvenience.
(Note: There are newer backup systems now available that do allow for individual folder and file access. Some of these newer systems also allow for an accelerated backup and restore process, saving time.)
For backing up files that have changed since the last full backup, differential or incremental strategies can be used in conjunction with the full strategy. A differential is a type of backup that copies all the data that has changed since the last full backup.
A full/differential recovery would include restoring the last full backup first, and then the last differential backup performed. Differential file sizes would be much smaller, allowing for a quicker restore, at least on the differential restore. Again using this system, two files are used for restoring, the last full and the last differential.
The differential type of backup does not clear the archive bit. This means that the next time a differential backup is performed, it backs up everything that has changed since the last full backup. Previous differential files can be discarded.
A full/incremental strategy is also an option. With an incremental strategy, each backup captures all computer software changes since the last backup, usually an incremental backup. A completed incremental backup does clear the archive bit. This means that it closes out (completes) the backup process.
For example, a full backup on Friday, an incremental backup on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, with a hard disk crash on the next Friday, means that restoring a hard disk drive up to date through the last Thursday, would mean restoring a total of five files (the last full, and the incremental backups for Monday through Thursday).
Backup and Restore Schedule Samples
Restore from Differential
Restore from Incremental
Changes from backup #1
Changes from backup #1
Changes from backup #1
Changes from backup #2
Changes from backup #1
Changes from backup #3
Changes from backup #1
Changes from backup #4
Determining which system and desired frequency would be optimal to use for any given computer or network requires evaluating how the systems are used, the importance of timely recovery, and the volume of data to be restored. In addition, a hybrid of full, differential, and incremental can be implemented.
R.A.I.D. is another option that can be used on its own, or with any other data security strategy. R.A.I.D. is not a specific strategy, but offered in many different forms called levels. For example, some of the most popular levels are R.A.I.D.1, R.A.I.D.5, R.A.I.D.10.
R.A.I.D. usually requires more technical knowledge to install and implement. Computer BIOSes, microprocessors, PC motherboards, controller cards, and software knowledge is required before optimal R.A.I.D. implementations can be incorporated into PCs, servers, and networks.
The basic concept of R.A.I.D. is that multiple hard drives are installed into an array. When a hard drive (or hard drive controller chip) fails, one of two actions can take place, depending on the R.A.I.D. level. First, a duplicate hard drive could be immediately available because of a process called mirroring (an exact copy). The mirrored hard drive is instantly online and the users do not know that an error (crash) has occurred.
Another R.A.I.D. level might send an error message to the administrator that a crash has occurred. The administrator then can rebuild the lost data to a new hard drive using data stored on the remaining hard drives in the array. No data is lost, only a little time is required to get the system back up and running.
There are many variations of R.A.I.D. They vary on their own, and can vary on implementation depending on the OS supported. R.A.I.D. is a very popular concept, and is widely included in data redundancy.
Much has been written about data security and is available in many places including online. However, like a regular Sunday sermon, we users need to be constantly reminded of securing our data before it becomes lost forever!
Whether you are a home user that has spent many hours scanning your family albums, a financial or medical organization, or anything in between, you can help prevent inconvenience, livelihood or legal consequences by protecting important data. Now is a great time to plan for a data loss emergency.
Perform a data backup now!
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Born in Billings, MT, Gary attended the Oklahoma City University, the University of Central Oklahoma, The University of Oklahoma, and Oklahoma City Community College. His proudest accomplishments come from helping students connect with job placement contacts. He’s worked with companies like Dell, Purina, and many others to facilitate great jobs.