Switching to IT considerations: key points to think about
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published 4 June 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
A career in IT can be rewarding if you enjoy working with computers, troubleshooting technical problems and devising solutions. Switching to this line of work can be relatively hassle-free if you're already in a similar position, but switching to IT from any job is also possible. Understanding how to transition between roles and what information to consider beforehand can make the process simpler and more comfortable. In this article, we explore some key points of consideration when switching to a career in IT and explore various IT roles.
What is an IT career?
IT simply means 'information technology' and includes jobs that involve technical work on computers. Most jobs in the industry relate to software, services, hardware and equipment, and IT professionals perform a range of duties within these areas. An IT career may include developing video games, creating mobile applications, building websites, fixing computer hardware or working as a customer support consultant. While there's a lot of variation across the industry, IT professionals have a consistent set of foundational skills. It's their specialist knowledge that differs from role to role.
Related: IT skills: definitions and examples
Switching to IT considerations
Regarding switching to IT considerations, there are various points to consider, including the following:
The field you currently work in
If you already work in a field pertaining to IT, you may find the transition much easier than someone who is entirely new to the industry. For example, if you work in a computer repair shop, becoming an IT technician may be easier than if you work in a completely unrelated field. If you're completely new to IT, here are some steps you can take to enter the industry:
Gain certifications. For people who are completely new to IT, a good entry point into the industry is through a certification programme, as this can help you gain a lot of fundamental knowledge in a relatively short time period. Relevant certifications include the IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate, the IBM Full Stack Software Developer Professional Certificate and Google UX Design Professional Certificate.
Complete a bachelor's degree in an IT subject. This is arguably the best way to gain a strong understanding of IT and related practices. Four-year degree programmes in fields like computer science can give you the practical and theoretical training needed for an IT career.
Gain experience. Once you have the necessary credentials, you can explore specialisms in IT and gain experience in your desired field. You may also decide to work part-time or voluntarily while studying at university, as this can reduce the time it takes to start your career.
Find an entry-level IT position. After gaining qualifications and experience, you can start applying for positions in your desired area. Entry-level positions can be easier to get and offer a good entry point.
Skills to develop
It's important to cultivate the necessary skills for a career in IT. Below are the main skills IT professionals possess and apply across the industry:
Knowledge of cyber security. To ensure the safekeeping of data for people and businesses, you have a basic knowledge of cyber security. IT professionals who specialise in cyber security usually require advanced knowledge of cyber security practices.
General proficiency with IT. Being generally good with computers is a fundamental skill for IT professionals, as the entirety of their work uses computers. Understanding how to navigate IT systems and being aware of developments in the industry can increase your job efficiency.
Programming. Many IT jobs involve programming, so this skill can be useful for professionals throughout the industry. Learning programming languages can help you advance your career if you're just starting out in IT.
Attention to detail. Remaining attentive when diagnosing IT issues and coming up with solutions is essential. Often, small details can have knock-on effects in IT, so spotting even the smallest issue is valuable.
Problem-solving. Troubleshooting IT problems and devising effective solutions is a form of problem-solving and is very useful. It's common for IT professionals to support people and organisations that have less IT knowledge, so they often diagnose IT issues with little input.
Communication. IT professionals provide specialist technical support, so effective communication is helpful. Certain IT professionals may also communicate with customers, for example, through the visual design of websites.
Your salary may temporarily be different
Switching career paths may impact your income. If you're completely new to the industry and are starting an entry-level job, your salary may temporarily decrease. It's also useful to consider your financial position if you're planning to work for a bachelor's degree. Once you develop skills and advance in the industry, your salary may increase to reflect your growing experience and industry knowledge. If you carefully plan for your new career, the temporary salary adjustment may be a worthwhile trade-off.
Related: IT cover letter: tips and examples
Your career progression may start again
Even though you may have progressed in your current career, starting an entirely new career may mean being at the lower end of a company's hierarchy or pay structure. This is particularly relevant if you're starting an entry-level job. Be aware of this so you can work to gain a more senior position. If you started your current career fairly recently, the change may not matter as much.
Types of IT careers
Below are some examples of IT careers:
Computer programmer. These professionals write computer software using coding languages, such as HTML. For example, they may write code for video game software or operating systems.
Customer support specialist. These specialists support customers by solving problems and removing barriers. Most tech companies that release products or services employ these professionals.
Quality assurance tester. Companies that release software employ quality assurance testers to ensure that products meet pre-defined standards and criteria. Testers perform checks to uncover any potential issues that the end-user might encounter.
Web developer. Web developers build websites, including the appearance, content organisation and functionality. They use coding languages to manipulate graphics and content to address user needs.
App developer. Like web developers, app developers write code for IT products that customers interact with. Instead of focusing on websites, these professionals create mobile and web applications.
Web designer. Web designers have extensive graphic design knowledge and work primarily on the visual aspects of IT products, such as websites. They have skills in areas including colour psychology and knowing how to effectively arrange visuals on web pages.
IT technician. Schools, offices and other organisations employ IT technicians to assist with daily IT problems. Aside from monitoring and maintaining equipment, they may also be responsible for maintaining networks and installing updates.
Network engineer. These professionals work primarily on computer networks to ensure organisational networks are available and efficient. This enables a company to maintain a connection between its computer system and central information hub.
Systems analyst. Systems analysts identify solutions to business problems and enhance associated systems. This can involve automating or streamlining business processes using technology.
UX/UI designer. UX stands for user experience and UI for user interface. These professionals help to steer customers towards desired actions, such as submitting enquiries or making purchases.
Computer scientist. These are highly skilled IT professionals that analyse problems, devise solutions and potentially build the solutions by writing bespoke computer software.
Computer forensics analyst. This is the application of IT knowledge to criminology and involves extracting and analysing evidence found on computers. These analysts may help detectives solve computer-related crimes or may gather computer-based evidence.
Cyber security specialist. These professionals help to protect data and intellectual property on behalf of businesses by implementing cyber security measures. These measures help to prevent hacks and other malicious activities.
Data scientist. Data scientists are data experts who gather, organise and analyse data to extract valuable information on behalf of businesses. They use this information to suggest intelligent business decisions.
Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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