How to Get Into IT: The 2024 No-Nonsense Guide to Starting a Career in IT

how to get into IT

Are you ready for a change? Here’s a guide on how to get into IT with zero experience.

Whether you’re working a dead-end job or transitioning out of the military, everyone has different reasons for entering the field of IT. And I kid you not, the timing could not be better.  The IT field is experiencing a significant labour shortage; also, it provides excellent compensation, fantastic perks, and numerous job chances.

The technology section, in particular, is full of pathways that demand a variety of talents and expertise. If you don’t have much experience but want to work in this flourishing industry, don’t worry; you’re not the first. Here, I will be your guide in starting your journey into IT.

Key Takeaways

  • Apart from tech skills, soft skills like communication, customer service, and knowledge of Microsoft Office gained from your previous career are very important factors that can boost your resume.
  • Acquiring certifications is the fastest way to kickstart and grow your career in IT.
  • Your degree in another field that is not tech-related can also be a distinguishing attribute in your IT career.
  • It’s okay to start at the bottom and remember to join an IT network.
  • Keep on learning and obtaining experience along the way.

What is Information Technology (IT)

Let me break it down into an easy-to-understand paragraph for those of you who have no idea what IT really is.

Information technology (IT) uses computers, storage, networking, and other physical equipment, infrastructure, and procedures to generate, process, store, secure, and share all types of electronic data. It is, however, commonly used in business functions rather than for personal or recreational purposes. Commercial applications of IT include both computer technology and telecommunications.

Read more: Is Information Technology A Good Career? (See 10 Solid Reasons)

What Does Information Technology Cover? 

As a child in school, I recall asking my teacher a similar question when I first came in contact with a computer during one of my first ICT classes. No matter how hard I try, though, I never seem to be able to recall his answer. I’m sure most of us can relate to this slight problem and have completely forgotten what information technology entails. It’s okay; I’ll refresh your memory with more of an adult-fashioned answer.

The IT department guarantees that the organization’s systems, networks, data, and applications perform properly. The IT staff oversees three primary areas:

1. Deploys and manages corporate applications, services, and infrastructure (servers, networks, storage);

2. Monitors, optimizes, and troubleshoots application, service, and infrastructure performance;

3. Manages applications, services, and infrastructure security and governance.

Careers in Information Technology

As an IT professional, I have gotten into numerous IT occupations, each with unique technological and managerial requirements. I can tell you there is so much to explore in this field. These are some of the most popular IT job titles:

  • Application manager
  • Chief information architect or IT architect

See Also: HOW TO GET AN IT JOB: Unconventional Tactics Without Experience in 2024

Tips on Starting a Career in IT (How to Get Into IT)

Gathered from my personal experience, here are seven tips on how to get into IT:

#1. Review and Apply Your Previous Experience to the IT Industry.

When deciding to pursue a new IT career, you should first examine your previous experience. You may lack the abilities stated in job advertising, but “soft skills” are surprisingly significant, and many skills are transferable to IT professions.

For example, I have a close friend who switched from medical to IT. Initially, it seemed like such a drastic move, but over time, he noticed that some of the skills he acquired from his previous job came in handy. Skills like attention to detail, good communication, critical thinking, and computer knowledge.

So, if you want to start in a help desk position (a common entry-level IT job), communication, customer service, knowledge of Microsoft Office, and other basic abilities will improve your resume significantly. By carefully considering your previous employment through the lens of the role you’d like to obtain, you may discover a wealth of applicable expertise. 

Many veterans find that their service-related talents are useful in their IT employment. Military personnel obtain training and experience that are well-suited to the needs and expectations of a career in technology. In addition, numerous financial and job programs are available to veterans, such as WIOA and VET TEC, to assist you with transitioning into an IT career.

You’ll need to build a new CV that includes relevant experience and is tailored to the opportunities you’re pursuing. Employers are highly likely to check your LinkedIn profile during the application process. You should modify your profile to ensure that it matches your new résumé.

#2. Acquire Industry Certifications.

I always emphasize this subject whenever I advise those just starting a career in IT and those who want to broaden their field in IT. Obtaining certification is the quickest way to break into information technology. While a technical degree can take 1-4 years, certifications can be acquired in weeks. I have coached several people who went into IT without an undergraduate degree but started with basic certifications like CompTIA A+. Now, at the very least, most are experts in their field or on their way there. There are several comparisons between obtaining a degree and gaining certifications, but a degree is not mandatory to enter the IT industry

By becoming certified, you can demonstrate to potential employers that you possess the necessary abilities. This will help make up for a lack of experience. For some roles, having the appropriate certifications will elevate you over applicants with less experience and no certifications. Best of all, certifications will help you find more entry-level opportunities rather than simply accepting the first IT job that comes your way.

Which IT Certifications Are Best for Entry-Level Learners?

CompTIA A+ is a vendor-neutral certification that demonstrates general knowledge across several areas of IT. It affirms that you have a basic understanding of networking, hardware, cloud computing, mobile devices, and troubleshooting. It will help you gain the knowledge you need to land your first help desk position.

CompTIA Security+. If you’re already interested in cybersecurity as a beginner, like I was, CompTIA Security+ is an excellent place to start. It is a vendor-neutral certification that confirms your ability to apply best security practices. The objectives cover a variety of important IT security concepts, including networks, data and host security, threats and vulnerabilities, compliance, access and identity control, and cryptography.

CompTIA Network+ is another vendor-neutral certification for novices. Its objectives include networking fundamentals, troubleshooting, infrastructure, operations, and security.

ITIL® Foundation is a certification in a service management framework. It will verify your awareness of the processes that allow IT personnel to provide quality service.

How Do You Become Certified?

I wish I could just say, “Fill out this questionnaire, and you’ll become certified almost immediately.” However, unfortunately, it’s not that easy. You must first research the objectives for the certification exam you intend to take. After you’ve decided, you can self-study or choose from various training choices, including certification prep programs, in-person training, virtual instructor-led training, and online on-demand training. For most people with little to no experience, your best option is to take a course taught by a real-world expert who will allow you to ask questions and completely understand the subject.

After reviewing the exam objectives, you can buy an exam voucher from the certification vendor store and set up a date to take the exam. This method varies based on the certification vendor. Some exams require you to bring them to a testing centre like Pearson Vue, while others allow you to take them online from home.

#3. Your Degree in Another Field Could Be a Huge Asset.

You may be tearing your hair out with remorse, wondering why you wasted all that time in college on a degree that isn’t assisting you in your search for a permanent career.  But try not to be too hard on yourself. Many businesses are more likely to offer you a job just because you were able to complete the task of acquiring a degree. That’s my story.

Here’s some advice for you. Instead of focusing on how your degree may have cost you time and money, consider how it can help you advance your career in information technology. For example, an IT professional with a literature degree is more likely to approach problem-solving creatively and have excellent writing and communication abilities. A philosophy major has a stronger comprehension of reasoning and a distinct approach to problems. By highlighting your degree as an asset, you will distinguish yourself from applicants with computer or technology experience.

With the continuous expansion of IT, there is a high demand for people with varied experiences and viewpoints. Make your degree your advantage!

#4. Be Open to Starting at the Bottom.

Remembering that you could have to “start over” in IT is crucial. You may have been a manager or an experienced professional in your previous field, but remember you’re leaving for a cause. Be prepared to begin with an entry-level position and work your way up. Working at the bottom of the ladder will provide essential experience as you advance to more challenging positions. I, too, had to climb up this same ladder from the very bottom. If I can do it, so can you.

Don’t worry too much, though; your income potential in IT is only limited by the amount of work you put in. On the low end, expect to start at $40,000 per year in a help desk role. However, with five years of industry experience and a handful of cybersecurity certifications, you should be looking at a minimum salary of $65K for a Cybersecurity Analyst post. It all depends on your ambition to progress and the extra study time you devote to mastering your profession.

If you want a “head start,” try acquiring a degree or a few certifications. Trust me, these credentials will be really beneficial to you.

Learning about your area of interest demonstrates your dedication to your new industry and gives you an advantage over other candidates. It will also prepare you for higher-level roles in the future. You cannot climb the corporate ladder if you have no experience. However, with so many available roles in the IT industry, having the right qualifications can help you quickly advance to higher-paying and more specialized positions in IT.

#5. Don’t Forget the Power of Networking.

You might be shocked at how strong your connections can be. When filling a job, most businesses prefer hiring someone based on a referral rather than interviewing a group of complete strangers. Finding an IT mentor can help you navigate your career and benefit from their experience.

Make sure to use social media and contact everyone in your address book and anyone you know who works in technology. Simply making a post letting your connections know you want to work in technology may lead to an unexpected opportunity. I owe many of my breakthroughs to the connections I made and the friends who helped me when I started. Remember, you can’t get far without other people, just like some people can’t get far without you.

You can even ask your friends or connections if they know anyone looking to hire for the positions you seek. The perfect connection can give you a significant advantage over the competition, and it may even create a lifelong career passion.

#6. Learn Relevant Technical Skills and Gain Experience.

Regarding technology, there are a million different things you can learn to boost your resume. Anything from understanding Salesforce to publishing on WordPress could benefit your next career. Using YouTube and watching endless free videos is an excellent method to learn new skills and reinforce existing ones. Check out ACI Learning’s YouTube account for free IT videos.

Follow your interests and learn about software and hardware in your own time. Once you’ve mastered these talents, you can include them on your resume, which could mean the difference between getting employed and being passed over.

Virtual laboratories provide an excellent opportunity to gain hands-on experience. Practice Labs creates, hosts, and maintains virtual labs where learners can practice their digital and IT skills in a safe, live lab setting. This allows you to get experience on genuine servers without the risk of destroying anything. This can help you gain the knowledge to be confident in real-world situations.

#7. Search for Crossover Positions.

While you may not have firsthand experience, IT workers are in almost every business that uses networks and computers. If you have years of experience in automobile sales, for example, you could apply for an IT position at a dealership. Even if you don’t have the best technical capabilities, understanding half of the industry can immediately help you become a valued employee. You will still have to start from the bottom, but earning your first year or two of IT experience is an excellent method.

Overall, it is not impossible to begin a career in IT with no prior experience — hence the term “start” — but many people are still hesitant to take the plunge. By equipping yourself with the necessary skills and knowledge, you may considerably improve your prospects of starting a career in technology that will last a lifetime.

How to Get into IT Security

Here are five tips for aspiring cybersecurity experts on how to get into IT security or those looking for entry-level positions:

1. Choose the Type of Cyber Security Career You Want.

The first step is to determine what type of career you desire in the first place! Entry-level cybersecurity jobs are largely comparable, and you may be tasked with protecting sensitive information from cyber-attacks, learning about network security, risk management, or managing access for your organization. Once you’ve gained hands-on experience in entry-level positions, you’ll have a variety of possibilities for your new career. Build your cybersecurity skills accordingly.

2. Determine Where You Wish to Work.

The cybersecurity career opens up a world of opportunities. Do you wish to work as a law enforcement or private company cyber security professional? Or, like me, do you want to become a pen tester? A certified information systems security specialist or another high-paying position? Many organizations seek new talent who meet certain criteria, such as cybersecurity abilities, a bachelor’s degree in computer science, soft skills, hard skills, or other qualifications. Make sure you have the necessary skills.

3. Earn a Cybersecurity Qualification or Certification.

Having a cyber security qualification, like I always say, opens up many additional high-paying work opportunities in cybersecurity or a related industry. If you have the necessary job experience, you have already taken the first step toward being certified/qualified. You can self-study, get a computer science degree, or speak with recruiting managers about internships. Attending a boot camp is one of the finest ways to find a full-time career in the sector; some will even connect you with a possible employer!

Several cybersecurity certifications are available, including the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH). These certificates can indicate your extensive knowledge of cybersecurity and act as a starting point for your career.

4. Find Ways to Continue Learning.

Speak with a mentor, participate in a forum, or learn independently. It’s critical to continue expanding and learning in this sector. 

5. Do Not Give Up.

You may not get your first job right away, but there will be more applications, possibilities, and options if you continue to work in your cybersecurity profession. Remember that cybersecurity engineers are in high demand. You’ll find something shortly. Don’t give up.

Read More: Is CyberSecurity A Good Career Choice To Get Into? (See 8 Reasons)

How to Get into IT Project Management

Below are four tips on how to get into IT project management:

1. Get an Undergraduate Degree

To become an IT project manager, enrol in an undergraduate program in project management, business administration, or computer science. This will equip you with a balanced skill set, including project management principles, computer programming, and information technology.

Read More: TECHNICAL DEGREE: Best Tech Degrees & Their Benefits

2. Obtain Work Experience 

Entry-level positions in IT are crucial for gaining practical management experience and building professional skills. These positions offer opportunities for internal advancement and demonstrate the application of project management. Experience in leading projects, developing strategies, tracking progress, and providing regular updates demonstrates motivation and professional capability.

3. Earn Certifications

To become a professional project manager, complete a certification process that includes work experience, courses, or tests. Certifications like Project Management Professional (PMP), Projects In Controlled Environments (PRINCE2), and PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) can help enhance skills, advance career, impress hiring managers, and improve workflow, collaboration, and productivity. These programs can impress hiring managers and set you apart from other candidates.

4. Apply for Jobs

Create a resume showcasing your IT project management qualifications, highlighting key competencies like network maintenance and team management. Use action words to describe your qualifications. When applying for a job, read the listing and update your resume to best represent yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What Qualifications Do I Need to Get Into IT?

A bachelor’s degree is the minimal academic prerequisite for working as an information technology professional. You can get a degree in information technology, computer science, engineering, or management.

Which Course Is Best in the IT Field?

If your profession was founded on outdated technologies or techniques, it’s time to reskill and prepare for your next opportunity. Here’s a selection of the best IT certification courses in 2024 that will help you go ahead in certain fields:

  1. Data Science 
  2. Big Data
  3. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
  4. Cloud Computing
  5. Project Management
  6. Business Intelligence
  7. Networking
  8. Software Development
  9. DevOps
  10. Cyber Security
  11. Digital Marketing
  12. CISSP
  13. ITIL

What Is the Easiest IT Qualification?

The CompTIA A+ certification, also known as the “entry-level rite of passage for IT technicians,” is an excellent place to start for anybody interested in working in information technology. The A+ certification covers various topics, such as hardware, networking, and troubleshooting.

Which Is the Hardest IT Certification?

The most difficult certificates are often those at the expert level. The most difficult certificate to select is Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE).

What Is the Highest-Paying IT Certificate?

This Google professional cloud architect certification has been available since 2017 and is one of the highest-paying qualifications in the industry. It displays a professional ability to design, create, and manage a cloud-based architecture using Google Cloud Platform (GCP). To acquire this certification, you must pass a 50-60-question exam, which costs $200. The average compensation for eligible certificate holders has skyrocketed to $200,960.

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