Looking to get started in IT?
Anyone who has ever tried to find a job in any field knows that it’s much easier to land a position — especially one with decent pay — if you have a related degree. It’s so important, in fact, that many job postings specifically define degrees that applicants need to have earned in order to even be considered for the job.
However, as many people can attest, it is possible to get a job in some fields even without specific credentials. After all, most people change careers (not just jobs, but actual careers) at least a few times in their lives — proof that the subject that seems most interesting when one enters college at 18 isn’t always going to be their passion.
As we get older, have new experiences, and develop new interests, it only makes sense that career goals can change. It’s not always practical, though, to return to school for another degree, so usually, a career change means finding other ways to get the necessary experience.
One field where a degree is often helpful, but not always necessary, is tech. We’ve all heard the stories of the biggest names in technology (Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, etc.) launching their empires without a degree, but even if world domination isn’t your goal, you can still land a tech job without four years of school. It requires some hard work, determination, and creativity, but it can be done.
If you have your sights set on working in technology, but don’t have the education you need yet, consider some of these options to build your skills and impress employers.
1. Build Your Skills in Your Free Time
Entering a formal degree program isn’t the only way that you can learn the basics of IT. The Internet offers a wealth of resources that you can mine to learn more about virtually any specialization that you can think of, including blogs, tutorials, online classes, and active communities of experts. Use your free time to read, watch, and absorb as much as you can.
2. Start Somewhere — Anywhere
One of the interesting quirks of applying for tech jobs is that in many cases, interviews contain a practical component; that is, you’ll be given the opportunity to show your stuff by solving a problem or demonstrating a process to the hiring manager. That’s why it’s not enough to simply have the “book” knowledge of how to do a job but have actual practical experience.
Begin by investing in some inexpensive equipment that you can work on at home, trying out various skills as you learn them. But since credibility is an important aspect of successfully landing a job, expand your practice beyond your basement. Volunteer to help a local non-profit revamp its website, for example, or build your own site to show employers that you are serious and have the skills you need.