How to get into the tech industry
Tech leaders share their words of wisdom on breaking into the tech industry
The tech industry is not only one of the fastest-growing, but it is also one of the most lucrative industries. Plus, it withstands employment crises, like the COVID-19 pandemic, unlike no others. And as the demand for the latest and greatest technology continues to rise, so will the industry's demand for workers.
Liz Beavers, senior sales engineer ITSM at SolarWinds, entered a career in tech by jumping from her comfortable communication and public relations role. As she entered the industry, she realized the numerous tech job opportunities available. So, Beavers rolled up her sleeves and honed her new skills in the tech industry so she could land a gig as a sales engineer.
"Over time, I found that I was hungry to learn more about the technology, pushing the boundaries past the 'norm' of what our product supported and that I truly enjoyed solving problems," Beavers says. "This led me to take the next step in technology as a sales engineer. As a sales engineer, I was challenged to understand the intricacies not only of our platform but of the IT world and with that came the opportunity for certifications, like ITIL 4."
Regardless of your background or industry you're currently in, tech has an expansive range of career opportunities that can fit almost any skill set. It's just a matter of figuring out what your goals are in the industry and where you see yourself in the future.
Before you can dive in, though, you must first understand how to enter the tech industry and have a grasp on the industry as a whole.
Facts about working in the tech industry
In May 2020, the median annual wage for careers in computer and IT occupations was $91,250.
Job opportunities in the tech industry are projected to grow 11% by 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Software and web developers are considered the largest and fasting growing category of tech careers.
A new career in tech means embracing constant learning
For Nikola Baldikov, digital marketing manager at Brosix, you need to embrace a mindset of constant learning and development if you want to get into the tech industry. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to develop your IT skills, from pursuing an online certification to earning a bachelor's in computer science and continuing with ad hoc online courses.
For many, however, it's all about identifying a particular niche within the tech industry and then becoming an expert in it. Jennifer Curry, SVP of product and technology at IT infrastructure solutions provider INAP suggests finding certifications currently trending on job boards and evaluating what it would take from a time and financial perspective to obtain them.
If you're interested in climbing the corporate ladder, Curry also recommends focusing on fine-tuning your soft skills. "The ability to translate business goals into technical reality will keep you highly sought after for the rest of your career," Curry says.
Much like Curry, Safwaan Rahman, talent acquisition manager at The DMW Group, also encourages those interested in the tech industry to get certified in their field of interest.
"Certifications are worth it," echoes Rahman. "They really help you move into an area if you lack the experience to show credibility in understanding a particular field. If I see someone who holds CISSP for example, I am comfortable they know Information Security in depth even if their CV is focused in other areas. If you're looking to start a career in cloud, a cloud certification is the best way to help you on that journey."
Don't expect a certification to be your immediate entry-ticket into the tech industry though. While it is a welcoming field and certification can serve as a great basis for your tech knowledge, Carlene Jackson, CEO of Cloud9 Insight says individuals with a constant appetite to learn will be the most successful in their tech roles.
Landing a job in the tech industry
Job hunting can be a long, arduous process. From perusing the internet's endless number of job boards to networking with those in the tech industry, landing a job in tech takes a significant amount of effort.
For Uliana Lysunets, HR manager and recruiter at KeenEthics, it's important that applicants begin their job search by developing a deep interest in the tech industry itself. "You have to feel like a true member of the IT world before you actually become a member," she says.
To accomplish such a feeling, Lysunets tells aspiring tech workers to subscribe to tech blogs and newsletters, listen to IT podcasts and follow industry headliners and thought leaders. Lysunets encourages applicants to work on developing their personal brand too.
"The IT market is oversaturated, so recruiters look for unique people. You should have your own opinion, practice critical thinking, do not follow the crowd," says Lysunets. "Try developing your personal brand, for example, by writing a blog on Medium, recording podcasts, or speaking at community events."
Riseapps CEO Vladlen Shulepov, on the other hand, encourages tech hopefuls to consider using an internship or apprenticeship as a stepping stone into the tech industry. Petra Odak, CMO at Better Proposals shares this sentiment, adding that if you want to break into the tech industry you should find companies that reflect your area of interest and share why you want to get started with that specific company when applying for an internship or apprenticeship.
Don't discount the benefits of networking events either. While many people might shy away from these types of events, connecting with others in the tech sector can prove to be extremely valuable. Not only will it help you meet others in your field of interest, but it can also lead you to new job opportunities.
"Networking can be a little daunting when you aren't already in the industry, but it's something that can really help you get noticed," says Carla Diaz, co-founder of Broadband Search.
Of course, job boards will always be one of the most useful resources you'll have at your disposal when applying for a tech job. From national job boards like Indeed to more niche job boards such as DataJobs, job boards are an excellent tool and can be a great way to find your first tech job.
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