We’re living in the information age. Technology is only getting more powerful over time — and more essential to our personal lives and to our work. Modern companies need to rely heavily on technology solutions, including computers, mobile devices, software applications, cloud storage solutions, and virtual and real-life networks.
But companies that rely on all of these things need them to work properly if they’re going to remain efficient. Most of the people who use these sorts of professional tech necessities are experts in something besides technology — for them, the technology is just a tool to use in pursuit of something else. That’s why companies need to rely on another type of professional to keep their hardware and software systems in tip-top shape. Those professionals are information technology specialists, and they can have successful careers.
IT specialists typically make more than $80,000 a year, and they can sometimes make more than $100,000. The IT world has plenty of opportunities. An IT professional can be a technician on the front lines, a top-level manager and business leader, or anything in between. But before you embark on a career as an IT professional, you’ll need to know how to make yourself into a qualified and competitive candidate for IT jobs. Here’s what you need to know.
Building The Right Skill Set
IT specialists have to combine careful methods with creative problem-solving to meet the challenges of their work. But challenges that can be fun for some of us may be unsurmountable to others. To succeed in IT, you’ll need a certain skill set.
IT specialists tend to be analytical and methodical. As confusing as technology can be, you’ll always find logic to the problem at hand. Computers don’t have emotions, and they don’t make mistakes on their own, so technicians with a flair for logic and passion for STEM will fare best in IT. IT specialists also need to be careful and methodical in how they attack a problem; troubleshooting machines means checking every possibility, and the most efficient IT specialists will generally consider possibilities in order of likelihood and simplicity.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that IT is for robots. The best candidates for any technical job, experts say, are adaptable and are learners for life. Be methodical and reliable, but not rigid.
If you’re going to prepare yourself for this kind of work, you need to embrace your passion for technology. If you’re fixing your computer at home and helping your parents troubleshoot software problems, then you’re the kind of person who may want to go into IT.
IT professionals need to know computers, software, and technology. And the best place to learn about those things, especially as they pertain to jobs in the IT field, is college. Your first step toward a successful career in IT is, naturally enough, an IT degree from a great school. If you’re considering a future in IT, go to college — you can make your education work on a budget or busy schedule by attending school online, if you so choose. If you’re already working in IT or a similar field, it’s even more important that you get a bachelor’s degree in IT or a related field, because you need to meet what is generally considered to be the minimum standard in IT if you’re going to seek promotions, raises, or other opportunities in the field.
You don’t have to stop with a bachelor’s degree, of course. In fact, you shouldn’t: While IT professionals can have very rewarding careers with bachelor’s degrees, you will be a more competitive candidate for the top jobs in IT if you have a master’s degree. A graduate-level degree in IT (or, in some cases, in a closely related field like computer science) will help you stand out from the crowd and will assure your potential employers of your expertise.
Once you’re in IT, you shouldn’t slow down. Technology is always changing, so stay on top of what you need to know by reading IT blogs and taking more certification courses and classes. Sometimes, these non-degree certifications can be effective ways to increase your earning power without disrupting your work schedule.