June 27, 2022

Starting a Tech Career in 5 Easy Steps (updated)

No tech degree? No problem! Every tool you need to start a career in technology is right at your fingertips and closer than you might think. Now more than ever tech companies are open to hiring entry-level positions without requiring a formal degree. Most of the necessary training can take place as you work an existing job, making a career in tech an excellent career option for high school graduates or adults looking to make a quick career change. 

With the demand for tech professionals at an all-time high, now is the time to take advantage of the opportunity to start a tech career.  You can do it in just five easy steps! Keep reading to learn what these steps are and how to take action today to claim your dream career.

Step 1: Learn Career-Oriented Skills

When it comes to technology, there are a million different things you can learn to improve your chances of landing a tech job. Anything from understanding Salesforce to knowing how to post on WordPress might be useful to your next employer. Utilizing YouTube and learning from countless free videos is a great way to gain new skills and reinforce old ones all without having to step foot inside a traditional classroom. Follow your interests and find out what skills are in demand to teach yourself technology skills in your free time. You'll be able to add these skills to your resume once you're competent at them, and they just might make the difference between getting hired and getting looked over.

Step 2: Earn Certifications

Certifications are a good way to earn a credential and learn fundamental IT concepts. You'll show potential employers that you have the skills they need. This can go a long way towards making up for a lack of experience. For some roles, the right certifications will put you higher in the stack than applicants with limited experience and no certifications. Best of all, certifications can help open up more entry-level opportunities instead of just taking the first IT job that comes your way.

Getting certified may also be the fastest way to break into information technology. While a tech degree can take 1-4 years, certifications can be studied for and earned in just a few weeks. Entry-level certifications like the ITIL, CompTIA A+, Network+, and Security+ — like those found in NuPath’s entry-level IT training programs — can lay the foundation for more advanced roles in networking and cybersecurity later in your career.

How do you get certified? The short answer is that you can choose between self-study or formal training to prepare for a certification exam. For most individuals with little to no experience, the best option is to take a course taught by an expert with real-world experience so you can ask questions and really understand the topic in depth. Another great learning technique for beginners is taking a course that allows you to put your hands on the actual technology you will be working within on the job. This allows you to get a feel for what a real job in IT will be like while simultaneously building your confidence. 

Step 3: Look for Entry Level Positions

It's important to note that you may have to "start at the beginning" in IT. You may have been a manager or an advanced professional in your previous job, but remember — you're leaving it for a reason. Be prepared to start with a lower-level technology position and work your way up. The experience you get working at the bottom of the ladder, along with the experience from your previous job, will allow you to grow into a more challenging position.

Don't worry too much about starting at the beginning though - you can quickly increase your earning with some on-the-job experience. On the low-end, you are looking at starting out right around $40K per year in a help desk position. But within five years in the industry and a couple of cybersecurity certifications, you could be looking at around $65K minimum in a Cybersecurity Analyst role. If you want a boost, consider getting a degree along the way and a few additional certifications. These credentials have the potential to help move you forward significantly in pay and responsibility.

An entry-level position requires minimal related work experience in almost any field. But given the variety of responsibilities you can take on as an IT worker, there are many titles an entry-level position in IT might have. Here are a few entry-level titles that you can look for in your job search:

  • IT Associate/Assistant
  • Help Desk Specialist
  • Computer Support Specialist
  • System Analyst
  • Network Associate
  • System Administrator
  • Cybersecurity Analyst
  • Database Administrator

Step 4: Showcase Your Skills

Tech projects of all shapes and sizes can help you gain the experience you need to get a tech job more easily. Consider building a website or image portfolio for any tech-related work you have done in your career plus anything you may have done on the side as a hobby, or for family and friends. Having an online portfolio of all your work will support your resume and strengthen the presentation of your skills during an interview. 

Also consider sharpening your tech skills through personal projects. Creating your own software, building a website for a friend, or tinkering with a computer network can put your skills to the test and give you additional experience to highlight on your online portfolio and on your resume.

Step 5: Network!

One of the best things that may help your job search is networking. Many jobs in the tech industry do not appear on job websites, making it so important to consistently network with coworkers, attend career fairs, and reach out to fellow professionals you know and respect to keep an open line of communication about your job search. Social media, courses, and micro-projects on the side are also good ways to network.

You may be surprised by how powerful your connections can be. When looking to fill a job role, most employers are more interested in hiring somebody based on a recommendation than interviewing a bunch of total strangers. Be sure to also utilize the power of your online network and everyone in your address book to reach people who are connected in the tech world. Simply putting your feelers out there by letting your connections know that you are looking to get into tech may bring out an opportunity that you never expected!

And finally, look for IT networking events by checking with your local professional associations, business publications, chambers of commerce, and online professional groups. Building relationships through these events is a good way to activate your career because you'll meet people who work in  IT departments or for organizations that may have tech job openings.

The Big Takeaway

As you follow these 5 steps to starting a career in tech, be sure to first and foremost follow your passion. What type of tasks make you excited to open your computer each day? What can you see yourself doing for years to come that will leave you fulfilled and challenged? The answer to these questions unlock the right direction for your career in tech. And getting started in the right direction is as simple as taking that first step toward learning more about your options.

NuPaths offers a variety of tech programs and courses with certifications ranging from basic to advanced skills. No matter where you’re beginning, NuPaths can meet you where you are and take you to the next level. Learn more about our 26-week tech training programs, certifications, and career services by visiting our website: nupaths.org

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