How to confidently change careers to IT

Want to take on a new position in IT? Here’s how to do it

Maybe you work in marketing and are tired of pitching ad copy or can’t help but cringe when someone asks you how they can out-market the competition. Or maybe you’re a retail worker who’s tired of stocking shelves at the local grocery store and want to take on a position that requires a more technical skill set. 

Changing careers to IT may be the right move for you. 

For many, changing careers is a daunting prospect, but there’s a slew of benefits to starting a career in IT. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects IT-related jobs to grow 12% from 2018 to 2028 and add 546,200 new jobs in that period. Most of this new demand will be for workers with experience in cloud computing, data storage and information security.

The IT industry also offers plenty of opportunities for remote work. Many tech companies, Facebook and Twitter included, have started making the shift to an all-remote workforce. Remote positions in IT not only offer the ultimate in flexibility, but remote workers also report earning more than in-office workers.

For those looking to start a career in IT, now may be the perfect time to get started. 

Picking a role that aligns with your career goals

Choosing a career in IT will involve doing some serious research. To determine the best IT career path for you, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is there a certain type of technology that you’re already passionate about? 
  • How much money do you hope to earn on a yearly basis? 
  • Are you looking to climb the corporate ladder or start your own IT business? 

By answering these questions, you’ll know what IT career path is best for you.

Keep in mind IT Pro has plenty of career-related resources for you to check out along the way. If you’re interested in changing careers to IT, we recommend reading the articles below first:

Research the training you need to make the switch

While many professions require job seekers to hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree, not all IT careers require a college degree. In fact, when seeking job opportunities in IT, you’re likely to find many open jobs in the IT industry require no degree at all. For many IT careers, a certification in your specific field of interest will do. 

You can take many IT-related certifications remotely and at your own pace. Multiple online training programs are available at little or no cost to you too.  To learn more about online IT training and certifications, check out the list below:

  • CompTIA is the leader when it comes to IT certifications. If you’re looking to get started with an introduction to basic IT knowledge and skills, the CompTIA IT Fundamentals (ITF+) certification will provide you with a broad understanding of the IT industry. 
  • Code Academy is another online learning system worth checking out. Code Academy offers courses related to web development, programming and data science. Code Academy also offers a free version, making it more attractive to those considering a career change.
  • Microsoft offers a wealth of online resources for those considering a career in IT. Not only will you learn from a Microsoft Certified Trainer but you can also study at your own pace.
  • For LinkedIn users wanting to make a career switch to IT, check out Lynda. Lynda offers a nearly endless number of IT training programs. Peruse the sidebar, and you’ll find training broken down by category, software and skill level.  

For additional IT-related certifications, check out the 10 best IT certifications for beginners. Each training listed is a great way to introduce yourself to the world of IT and bound to set you on an upward trajectory as you begin on an entirely new career path.

Talk to people in your field of interest

Do you happen to know anyone who works in the IT industry already? If so, ask them if they would have a few minutes to chat with you about their career. If they do, consider asking these questions to kickstart the conversation:

  • What’s their current job title?
  • What led them to that job/field of IT?
  • What types of training did they participate in? 
  • Are there any tips they can share with someone changing careers to IT? 

If you’ve already landed on a specific IT field, consider familiarizing yourself with the professional organizations associated with it. Many of these organizations offer opportunities for networking and regularly host online events and webinars, meaning you’ll have the chance to connect with IT professionals already working in your field of interest. 

To get started, consider checking out the following associations:

  • ASIS International is recognized as the leading organization for security professionals. Visit ASIS Connects and you can connect with those already working in IT security.
  • CompTIA has also welcomed millions of IT professionals to its platform and regularly schedules networking events for those who are either in the IT industry or are interested in getting involved.
  • EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit association dedicated to IT education. Attend an online event coordinated by the nonprofit and connect with a wide range of IT professionals.
  • The Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) is an international organization of information security professionals that also regularly holds informational events and webinars.
  • The Network Professional Association (NPA) brings network computing professionals together and regularly promotes insightful industry events.
  • The Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) is the leading professional association of the tech services industry and provides a vast number of resources across its entire website.

Don’t discount the benefits of scheduling an informational interview either. Informational interviews are a time to gain valuable insight into an IT career. 

Reach out to friends and family to find out if they can connect you with someone working in IT. If there’s a specific company you’re interested in working at or would like to learn more about, give them a call or contact them via LinkedIn to request an informational interview.

Get hands-on experience

Regardless of your chosen IT career path, getting hands-on experience will be key in making a career switch to IT. Try out new skills on your personal computer. If you’re interested in learning how to write code, use Code Academy to experiment with different coding languages. 

You might also want to consider shadowing someone who already works in the IT industry. 

Other worthwhile pursuits during your career change may include an IT internship or working part-time for an organization in your community. Further, you might also come across a business in need of volunteer IT services. 

As you get hands-on experience, identify any skills gaps you might have. Doing so early on will give you the chance to perfect your skills and home in on areas you may need to improve upon. Understanding what skills you need to improve will help you determine if you need to pursue additional training or certifications before applying to your first IT job.

Tailor your resume to your chosen career path

After you’ve done your research into the IT industry, have decided on the career path you would like to embark on and have gotten some IT training under your belt, it’s time to tailor your resume to the IT industry. 

Look over various job openings within your field of interest and try using the same language when writing your resume. Read up on keywords related to IT, along with what skills hiring managers look for most. 

We also recommend highlighting any transferable skills you might have when crafting your resume. If you’re considering a switch from retail to IT, highlight skills such as problem-solving, organizational skills and customer service expertise. If you’ve previously worked as a manager or team lead, mention any leadership or communication skills you might have.  

Be persistent, but remember that patience is key

Switching career paths isn’t easy. Doing so takes a significant amount of time, effort and research. Try setting specific goals that push you to take actionable steps as you embark on a career in IT. Tell those around you that you’re looking to make a change in careers and ask them to help keep you motivated along the way. 

Remember, switching careers takes patience. You’re going to have bad days. You’re going to question whether or not you’re making the right choice. That’s okay. Everyone is bound to hit a few potholes when in pursuit of a new career. It’s how you manage those hurdles that’s truly important. With perseverance and dedication, you’ll find yourself on the path to a fulfilling career in IT.

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