By Mark Emery

2020 has been a year of immense change, and there’s no exception for information technology careers.

While more safely insulated from the economic fallout of the pandemic than other industries, IT has still seen its fair share of downs to go with all of its many ups.

Consider the most recent job market numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as analyzed by CompTIA:

“The tech sector recorded its second consecutive month of employment growth, adding an estimated 12,900 net new workers in both technical and non-technical positions. The IT services and custom software development category led the way in job gains … [However,] the industry’s employment growth was countered by an unexpected loss of 324,000 tech occupation jobs.”

If that latter part seems bad, here’s a little more good for you: In comparison to the national unemployment rate of 7.9%, unemployment for information technology careers is just 3.5%.

But if you’re a job seeker, these statistics don’t paint the full picture. Exactly what companies are hiring right now, and for which specific roles? Has the new emphasis on remote work changed companies’ hiring processes? Has it changed what they’re looking for in their candidates?

To get a better sense of the hiring outlook in IT right now — specifically for entry-level IT jobs — we spoke with a pair of our employer partners. Read on for their expert insight on information technology careers, delivered straight from the other side of the interview table.

Impact of Work From Home

information technology careersAngela Woehler, a Government Services Lead at Apex Systems, says entry-level information technology jobs are on the rise across multiple industries and markets.

“We’ve experienced surges within cybersecurity in industries like healthcare, government services, and financial services,” Angela says. “Clients have taken a new approach to hiring where they have flexibility in interviewing and acquiring new talent. We are on Zoom calls and video conferences. Virtual hiring fairs have become the new normal.

“We are also adjusting to an environment where working from home has been key to continuing every day activities. Think about everyone who is working remotely needing to call into a helpdesk or service desk for assistance. That brings so much opportunity for companies to onboard more entry-level talent to help with the unforeseen demand.”

The impacts of the new “work from home” normal don’t end there.

“Because employers have more flexibility, some opportunities are starting out working from home, which allows companies to look outside of just their immediate surroundings,” Angela says.

So, how should a budding IT professional adapt? Angela has advice there, too.

“It is very important to stay competitive and relevant upon entering into the IT/cybersecurity realm,” she says. “If you are provided the opportunity to obtain your certifications, then I would absolutely recommend it, especially coming into the field. They are definitely ways to gain employer interest and give them an idea of the knowledge and talent you could potentially bring to their organization.”

Certs, Certs, Certs

Francisco ArteagaFrancisco Arteaga, a recruiter at Jacobs, agrees with Angela on the importance of attaining certifications — the more advanced, the better.

“Certifications are a must and in the future CompTIA Security+ won’t be enough,” Francisco says. “They are already looking to hire people with multiple or higher-tier level certifications. IT college degrees are recommended but not required. An IT degree doesn’t get you through the door; it only makes you a little more competitive. Department of Defense clearances are more difficult to obtain since employers do not have the funding to sponsor new hires without one. Having a clearance will be a must.”

Once you get your certifications, it’s time to start applying. Like Angela, Francisco emphasised the differences in the application process compared to just a year ago. Here’s what to expect and how to approach.

“Virtual hiring and telephonic [meetings] will be the norm for interviews,” he says. “Employers are using systems in place like Indeed, LinkedIn, or company online software programs to have candidates apply to streamline applications processes and save time and cost. That means it will be more difficult to compete against others due to the fact that you are unable to advertise your full potential as during an in-person interview or hiring events. Recruiter numbers will deplete as more companies are hiring recruiters with minimal experience, and they’ll only be required to source for candidates and not necessarily recruit quality.”

Ready to Get Started?

Now that you know a little about the hiring prospects for entry-level information technology jobs, here’s a quick refresher on how to get from here to there if you have no prior experience.

Both Angela and Francisco mention certifications. ACI Learning (formerly LeaderQuest) has a course track called the Computer User Support Specialist program that focuses on preparing students to achieve the bedrock certifications upon which IT careers are built: ITIL, CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, and CompTIA Security+. This set of courses can be taken over a span of five weeks if you train full-time during the day or 10 weeks if you can only attend at night.

Once you’ve passed your classes, it’s time to pass your certifications and get hired. Like our team of expert course instructors, ACI Learning also offers instructor mentors to help you study the material and a dedicated Career Services team to help you land a job. More than a few of our graduates have gotten jobs after a quick phone call from Career Services to an employer. Their one-on-one counseling also includes benefits such as resume edits and interview practice.

Curious about breaking into IT and want to hear more about how ACI Learning can assist you? Fill out the form below to learn more about entry-level IT jobs and more.