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IT Career Development Resources

Information Technology Career Resources for Professionals

There are many occupations within science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), all of which help contribute to its 79% growth in employment since 1990. This surpasses all other job growth in the US — making professionals in this industry in high demand. Information technology, or “IT,” is one of the fields within STEM that has contributed to this growth explosion, and the demand for IT professionals will only continue to provide services in the digital age. 

While suffering a minor hiccup due to the pandemic in 2020, the IT industry outlook for 2021 is looking to bounce back. The technology industry is projected to reach $5 trillion in 2021, indicating a 4.2% growth from the previous year. 

Those who are looking to get into an IT profession, wanting a career change, or interested in a promotion in this industry would do well to understand the various career pathways, where they could work, and the necessary training and education that will likely be required. Additionally, you’ll want to know how to look for a job and network, as well as some potential challenges you may face while entering the field.

Types of IT Jobs

As if the promise of high demand and growth of the IT field is not enough, computer and information technology occupations earn an average salary of $88,240, which is much higher than the annual wage for all other occupations ($39,810 in 2019). Alongside higher pay, IT professionals can enjoy flexible hours, remote work, and opportunities to advance in the industry. Below are a few popular IT jobs for you to consider working toward.

Data Analyst

A data analyst will work with businesses to help find opportunities and areas to improve by collecting and analyzing data. This will require finding usable information in large data sets, creating ways for business leaders to visualize the data, and compiling reports to explain how a business should go forward with its various operations.

Data analysts can find work within a wide range of industries and will need to know what data to use, finding the best tools to meet deadlines, and understand business operations to avoid common analytics mistakes and become successful.

Growth Rate: 20%.

Education Required: Bachelor’s degree.

Commonly Preferred Experience: Advanced analytics, AI and machine learning, business intelligence, cloud computing, data visualization.

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity professionals, such as an information security analyst, will safeguard an organization’s computer networks and systems. Cybersecurity professionals will continuously work to identify and solve security issues, delegate access privileges to members of an organization, and control computer operations. These professionals will work with businesses, financial companies, consulting firms, and other companies to ensure their data and systems are protected. 

Growth Rate: 31%

Education Required: Bachelor’s degree.

Commonly Preferred Experience: Cloud computing, system and firewall administration, network security, security policy, and knowledge of routers, hubs, and switches. 

IT Support

An IT support specialist will troubleshoot and provide solutions and advice to ensure the computer use of an organization goes smoothly. Working hours may be sporadic, as they will need to be available to solve computer issues 24/7. 

Growth Rate: 8%.

Education Required: Bachelor’s degree.

Commonly Preferred Experience: Information technology, computer science, computer programming, application development, and engineering support

Web Developer

A web developer will create, update, and provide a better user experience for the visitors of an organization’s website. This work will require graphic design skills, coding, knowledge of cross-platform integrations, and a strong coding background. They will work to actualize, build, test, and provide a functional website for the best digital experience for their clients’ visitors — which may be from any industry.

Growth Rate: 8%.

Education Required: Associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree for higher positions. 

Commonly Preferred Experience: HTML, CSS, JavaScript, graphic design, website maintenance, website traffic analysis.

IT Consulting

An IT consultant will be responsible for overseeing an organization’s storage software and help implement new ones — modifying information systems to fit their client’s business needs. They will manage, analyze, and repair customer data, transactions, and more. An IT consultant will also be expected to instruct others on how to use information systems, and diagnose and fix problems when they arise.

Depending on your field, you might even specialize in consulting on a particular tool or software; for instance, you could serve as an organization’s Salesforce partner and assist them with implementing and optimizing the use of the customer relationship management (CRM) software. There is a demand for both generalists and specialists across the IT sector. 

Growth Rate: 7%.

Education Required: Associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree for higher positions.

Commonly Preferred Experience: Information systems, coding, analytics, strong communication.

App Development

An app developer will use computer software engineering skills to create, test, and program apps for computers and mobile devices. A strong assessment of client needs and communication will be needed to create an app that their client will be satisfied with and to provide a digital experience that will attract clients. These professionals will work with graphic designers and data scientists to help create apps, test, and fix bugs before the app is launched.    

Growth Rate: 20%.

Education Required: Bachelor’s degree.

Commonly Preferred Experience: Software engineering, computer science, system design, data structuring, coding, and programming. 

Where Do IT Professionals Work?

IT professionals can work for clients of any industry. Work environments can change drastically from a business setting, to remote work, to holding government jobs. It will be crucial to understand if you’ll be working a 9-5, be able to set your hours, or be on call for a client to realize which IT occupation will suit you best. 

Healthcare

The IT applications across the healthcare industry have been growing explosively for several years. The entire American health system has been shifting record-keeping to electronic systems, known as electronic health records (EHR), creating a huge demand for support staff who can set up, maintain, and customize these systems for every situation, from the operating room to the primary care doctor’s office. The shift to digital in the healthcare space is also driving demand for security professionals, as well as experts on data management, analytics, machine learning, and even Salesforce architects to help caregivers and policymakers make better data-driven decisions about care plans, interpreting research, and developing public health priorities. While having a medical background is not essential for many of the new IT roles in healthcare, there are plenty of opportunities in leadership as well as IT for those who have a history in medicine or caregiving to support their technical skills, opening many new doors for you professionally.

Manufacturing

Both domestically and around the world, factories are not disappearing — they are getting smarter, more efficient, and more connected. Automation at all levels of the supply chain is putting more demand on IT professionals to help keep data gathering and analytics systems operational, or implement new customer portals through Salesforce to address the need for modern, streamlined communication and relationship management solutions. Meanwhile, robotics on factory floors and inside warehouses is creating new leadership and development positions for those with the right technical skills. As 3D printing and other next-generation manufacturing techniques see wider adoption, the business of building things at scale is increasingly driven by sophisticated computers and machines, making the manufacturing space a lucrative one for IT specialists. If you have a background in engineering to supplement your IT specialization, you can expect healthy demand for your skillset in the manufacturing sector.

Insurance

The digitization of medical records is helping to drive a data revolution not just in the treatment of patients, but the industry of paying for medical care and insuring against risk. As more patients, businesses, and other organizational stakeholders start using wearables, smart devices, and adding to the Internet of Things, insurance companies from every sector — health, as well as property and vehicle and more — are gaining new data points and new insights into risk management and disaster prevention. Data analytics, robotic process automation, and the associated need for IT support to create novel programs, maintain secure systems, and facilitate the sharing and organization of data, means the insurance industry has a host of IT roles to fill. 

Financial Services

Finance has always been a data-driven industry, but the digital revolution has accelerated the demand for professionals not just in finance, but the underlying application development, data analytics, and computer programming that powers financial institutions from big banks to small businesses. Everything from tax records to investing and enterprise resource management now depends on IT specialists to create novel solutions, provide security, and analyze troves of data. You can expect to find your IT skills in demand in businesses of all types and sizes in the financial sector; supplementing your tech background with a strong foundation in mathematics, economics, accounting, or another financial specialty can help make you more competitive and attractive to employers in this space.

Government IT Jobs

Government work in the public or private sector will typically mean the job will come with great benefits (unless you are working as a freelancer). Government agencies often will need IT managers, computer engineers, computer scientists, and cybersecurity specialists. Public sector government jobs such as public schools, and local agencies may use freelancers or will employ an IT professional in a traditional work environment. Additionally, you may enlist in a military branch to become an IT professional in the Army, Navy, or Air Force.

Freelance 

With the rise of the gig economy and remote work, and especially in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, IT professionals are finding that they can lend their services as a freelancer. This can mean that you provide services “on call,” going to a location when asked, or you also may have the option to perform work from home or remotely. 

This can allow you to set your hours and work on a flexible schedule, but it will also mean that you will have to pay taxes on what you earn and establish your benefits. Work IT professionals can do as a freelancer includes consulting and support, coding and programming, and training.

Managed Service Providers (MSP)

“Managed services” refers to the outsourcing or contracting out of any service to perform tasks for an organization. Organizations might hire an IT professional when they don’t need full-time services in-house, but rather, need problems fixed when they arise and intermittent systems monitoring. 

MSPs may perform work remotely, however some tasks require a visit to an organization’s office or servers. Common work for an MSP includes consulting and support, cybersecurity, networking, data storage, cloud computing and integration, and more. MSPs may also work directly with a company’s software and hardware, or may help to integrate, train employees, and aid them with implementing digital solutions.

IT Certification Programs and Professional Education

Certifications and continued education can help you get an IT job, boost your current IT occupation’s salary, or help you get promoted to senior-level. For many IT jobs, certifications are a great way to show your knowledge of IT subjects and will look great on a resume. 

With the many specializations within the IT profession, having a certification to show that you can perform additional duties will be vital in landing a job. While it may be possible to get an IT job without certification, having one certainly doesn’t hurt. 

Certification Programs

The certifications below are broken into several categories; however, every organization has several certification programs to choose from, from beginner to expert, and of a large number of specializations. To become certified, you’ll have to pass an exam — or exams — to demonstrate your knowledge of any specialty. Your determination in choosing an agency to become certified will include your level of expertise, desired specialization, and the requirements (and associated price) and location of where the exams will be held — which may be conducted online. 

  • Entry-Level Certifications
    • CompTIA A+: This is an industry standard certification that is trusted by enterprise brands and IT pros to demonstrate a strong baseline of broad IT knowledge, from security to leading operating systems to scripting, troubleshooting, and more.
    • Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA): As the leading enterprise operating system and technology brand, Microsoft offers a suite of software and cloud solutions, and it is possible to gain a range of Microsoft certifications to showcase your specialized, application-specific knowledge and experience. Serving a variety of roles and levels of experience from beginner to expert, you can find the relevant certificate to demonstrate mastery of whatever Microsoft system your job requires.
  • IT Security Certifications
    • ISACA: Formerly known as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association, ISACA is one of the world’s leading IT and data governance associations, offering certifications for a variety of roles including governance as well as security and information management. These certifications speak to an individual’s real-world knowledge and practical skills in some of the most common IT roles and specialties.
    • EC-Council Hacking Programs: Earning a Certified Ethical Hacking (CEH) certificate can be a way to showcase mastery of the most modern tools and techniques for developing end-to-end security solutions. This is a unique type of certification that can be used to represent a wide range of skills and relevant cybersecurity knowledge combined with practical experience.
    • (ISC)² CISSP: The Certified Information Systems Security Professional certification is the independent international standard for certifying cybersecurity professionals, and is approved by the U.S. Department of Defense among other organizations. (ISC)² offers additional internationally accredited security certifications, now including certifications for Cloud, Software Development, Healthcare Security, and more.
    • GIAC Certifications
  • Cloud Computing Certifications
    • VMware: Software company VMware offers certifications and badges for a variety of user roles associated with each of its many programs, including administrators, engineers, operators, and architects.
    • Amazon – AWS Training and Certification: Amazon offers this skills certification program specifically to help individuals working with Amazon Web Services systems to become more proficient in utilizing AWS for their respective organizations. As a leader in enterprise cloud services, AWS is a standard in many sectors and across many leading enterprise organizations.
  • Intermediate to Advanced Certifications
    • Trailhead: Trailhead is an online training platform and professional community offering certification programs for a variety of Salesforce applications and user roles, from administrators to analysts and technical architects. Salesforce is one of the leading CRM solutions across many industries, and Trailhead has fostered a community that can provide everything from skills development to mentorship and even job searching for Salesforce professionals.
  • Management Certifications
    • ScrumAlliance: This non-profit organization offers agile management training and Scrum software and system training. Certificates for each stakeholder role are available, with ongoing education available to allow for maintenance of certification and continued skill development.
  • Help Desk Certifications
    • Think HDI: These certifications are specially designed for IT service and help desk professionals. While different certifications are available for specific help and support roles, the programs have a shared focus on building relevant IT knowledge and customer service skills for the IT sector.
  • Database and Data Analytics Certifications
    • ICCP: The Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals offers the Certified Data Professional (CDP) certificate, an update of the original Certified Data Management Professional (CDMP) program. This credential is available in a multitude of role-specific formats, for everything from business analytics to public sector data governance.
    • Oracle University Certification: Oracle offers a wide range of software, applications, hardware, and digital services that are common among enterprise organizations and businesses of all sizes in every industry. Given the scope of solutions they offer, the Oracle University emerged to provide professional education and application as well as role-specific certifications to users and technology professionals.

Professional Development Courses and Workshops

IT is an evolving field, and to stay current on new cybersecurity protocols, development processes, and other new concepts, it might be beneficial to take classes or workshops. 

Examine the following places that provide classes on a wide range of IT specializations whether you’re just starting your career or are looking to be promoted. Many times, these classes can be taken online, and determining which ones you choose may come down to pricing and availability.

Scholarships and Grants

Many organizations offer scholarships to provide financial assistance for individuals interested in pursuing any one of the many different IT or STEM degrees available. You’ll want to take a look at the requirements and the award amount associated with any application you submit. Below are some great scholarship and/or grant options to consider:

Senior-Level Training and Leadership Resources

Management and leadership positions in IT often require continued education and/or certifications. Below is a list of training and educational resources to help maintain or work towards a senior or management IT position.

Youth Education and Mentorship Resources

It is becoming increasingly popular to get involved in these fields very early on to become familiar with concepts such as coding, programming, and more. If you are interested in getting your children into IT and STEM, consider the following instructors and mentors to help foster interest in this thriving field.

Internships

Getting your foot in the door after school, or even building a portfolio of real-world experience in anticipation of graduation can be the perfect way to jump-start your career. Aside from the hands-on experience that you can gain with software and hardware, employers can see this on your resume. You can pivot into a new specialization, learn management and leadership skills, or just stay up to date with current trends and processes. Below are several internships for you to examine as well as internship job boards if you are looking to kick off your career and put yourself on track to gain invaluable skills, expand your professional networks, and put your new knowledge to work.

How to Find a Job Opening in IT

High demand often means high competition. It may be difficult to land a job in IT, however, if you take a multifaceted approach you can have a much better chance of finding job openings. This can include checking job boards, joining online communities, and attending conferences to make your face known to company and industry leaders.

Job Boards

Job boards are essentially search engines for job listings. Frequently checking several job boards can help you get the jump on applying. Having your resume in front of others can be the difference between landing a job and having your application buried or lost. Some common job boards to continually check for IT positions include:

Platforms and Communities

Online communities can be a great opportunity to chat with people who are interested in the same fields as you. This interaction can lead to helpful tips for getting hired, current open positions, or even positions that will soon need to be filled. Consider becoming a member of the following platforms and online communities to introduce yourself — you might find a job opening or even find yourself chatting with company leaders.

Events and Conferences

Attending events and conferences is a great way to learn about an industry, upcoming trends, and to put yourself out there. It can go a long way toward getting hired to find that your interview has met and chatted with you at a conference before. Consider attending the following tech conferences, in-person or virtually, to gain valuable knowledge and meet people within your industry.

Why Does Diversity Matter in Tech?

Diversity offers enrichment on a variety of levels. In many workplaces, including tech industries, diversity allows for benefits that include:

  • Creativity: With a richer level of diversity naturally comes a variety of perspectives, minds, solutions, and approaches. Creativity is a hallmark of the technological sphere.
  • Productivity: Greater creativity and diversity can return higher levels of productivity, which in turn, can positively impact a company’s bottom line. 
  • Employee Satisfaction: Diversity can promote feelings of inclusion that cause a waterfall of positive employee benefits, including engagement and attendance

The positives of embracing a diverse workforce within technology specifically are clear, but the industry still has some work to do to close the gap that has existed for years. 

Addressing the Diversity Gap

According to a Pew Research study on representation in STEM occupations, the share of women working in computer occupations dropped from 32% in 1990, to 25% in 2018. Additionally, African American and Hispanic populations are underrepresented in STEM fields as a whole. These numbers indicate a statistically significant gap in diversity relevant to those working in or with a desire to work in the tech industry.

Though work is being done to help close this gap and include a spectrum of individuals in the workforce, there is still significant work to be done. Steps to take to promote diversity could include introducing coding to students at young ages (like elementary school) or by providing support for new parents with jobs in these fields. 

Challenges Faced by Women and Minorities in Tech

There are many challenges that women and minorities can face when entering a job in the tech industry. Those obstacles could include, but are not limited to:

While this is not a comprehensive list of the challenges women or minority groups may face when working to enter the tech industry, it certainly illustrates that there is a notable amount of work left to do to help alleviate these roadblocks. 

Several groups, organizations, and resources exist that purposefully work to help bridge the gap between minority groups and a career in IT.

Resources to Support Diversity in IT

Recognizing the lack of diversity in the tech industry, organizations have banded together to provide a safe and informational space for women and minorities to find jobs, instruct the youth, and chat about the industry. If you are a member of these groups, or just want to facilitate more diversity in the tech industry, consider cooperating with the following community, members, and events.

In Conclusion

The tech job market is always evolving, and it can feel overwhelming to keep up-to-date on the latest skills and certifications required to advance in your career. This is particularly true for individuals who are underrepresented and generally underpaid in this industry. Regardless of your identity or career progress, however, there are many resources to help you advance. 

There is the opportunity for deep specialization and lucrative career advancement for those with the right IT skills and industry experience. Whether you want to specialize in consulting, developing custom applications, or even implementing enterprise solutions like Salesforce or other ERM software, the digital age is ripe for IT professionals to take charge of their careers and help drive organizations forward.

Saggezza is a proven technology and consulting partner that delivers personalized, high-value solutions to accelerate business growth.

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