Planning to start a career in information technology (IT) begins in high school. Preparation includes math classes, computer training and earning a grade point average that will get you into college. Graduates of 4-year universities start out in the field at a much higher pay rate than technical school graduates or certificate holders. There are, however, many ways to plan your career in information technology through a variety of career paths.
Start out with the certifications that will provide entry-level IT opportunities. Study Microsoft platforms and gather certificates in Cisco systems, Java scripts and other common applications. You can begin working in the field with these certificates while pursuing a degree that may fit into your plans for the future.
Read up on trends and news in the IT industry regularly to be able to plan your next move. By formulating the habit of reading publications such as “RedmondMag.com,” “Converge” and “Info World,” you’ll be more aware of where the industry is going.
Join trade groups where you can develop networking relationships and be privy to inside industry news. Most industry associations also provide continuing education and training seminars for members.
Continue with your education as you assess your work history. Prepare for changes in the IT industry that will affect every move, from your ability to advance to the opportunities that come available. Look for training in upcoming fields that may not have been on your horizon in the past, such as global positioning, satellite and advanced video development.
Plan your moves with an eye toward other companies and opportunities. It’s no longer prudent to stay at one company to keep a stable resume. Employers expect turnover; most college graduates will change careers and employers an average of four times before retiring. Look beyond your current situation when planning your next career move.
Keep in mind your personal goals as you plan each stage of your career. While young, you may find that a fast-paced, demanding job is fulfilling and provides the kinds of challenges and opportunities you desire. As you start having a family, your priorities may change so that you prefer more regular hours and health benefits. If you want a flexible lifestyle with time to travel, you might consider temporary IT work or self-employment.