Careers in information technology are constantly evolving. There isn’t a single technology that remains unchanged every year. If you have a job in IT, you can’t afford to not evolve along with the technology you work with. Networking isn’t just networking anymore, it’s not microsegmentation and software defined networking. Servers aren’t just servers anymore either, there are hyperconverged solutions that combine the entire technology stack in one chassis. It is important to be aware of the emerging trends in IT and stay ahead of the curve in order to future proof your career. If your career has become stagnant and you’ve fallen behind the curve, there is time to course correct, here are three ways to grow your career in IT.
Get a Degree
Going back to school and getting a graduate degree, or your very first degree can give your career a big boost. Most technical people in the IT career field don’t necessarily require a four year college degree. However, if you find your career growing stagnant and you would like a promotion to a better and generally higher paying job, getting a degree can provide those opportunities. For some it might be difficult to go back to school while maintaining a full time job, however there are many options for night school or online school that can help with work life balance. Additionally, cost can be a roadblock for some, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many companies that provide tuition reimbursement for most degree programs. On top of tuition reimbursement, there are federal grants and private scholarships that can help offset the cost of a four year degree. Getting a degree is a very effective way to grow your IT career.
If you have worked in the IT career field for any amount of time, it is easy to see how important certifications are. Some will contend that certifications don’t do anything for you that just having the skills and knowledge already do. While that might be true in many cases, in the world of government contracting there are some projects or programs that require you to have certain certifications as such is true with DoD 8570 compliant programs. Some certifications that can help you to be DoD 8570 compliant are Security+, CISSP, CEH and GSEC. While there are many candidates who are “paper certified” meaning they don’t have any real world experience, for most, adding a certification cements their status.
Training is one of the more obvious and immediately beneficial ways to grow your IT career. A four year degree takes 4 years to obtain, and then finding the right opportunity for you to apply your new knowledge may take a little while longer. Certifications are good, however they don’t immediately give you a bump in knowledge and or skills. Training is the most effective method of growing your IT career. For example, signing up for a CCNA boot camp that lasts a week, and then taking the exam at the end, gives you an immediate boost in knowledge. You may not come out of the boot camp as an expert, however you will gain hands on experience in lab settings that can easily translate to the real world. CEH training will give you insight into the world of penetration testing and allow you to have hands on experience preparing for a penetration test or learning how to best avoid being hacked. Again, much like a four-year degree, there is a significant cost involved in IT training. Courses can range in cost from $1,500 to well over $6,000 depending on the course, and in some instances, the way in which the course is delivered.
Use All Three Methods to Your Advantage
Do you already have a degree? Then focus on getting some new certifications that are relevant to your current position or a position that you wish to fill. If you already have a ton of certifications but lack a degree, look into going back to school or getting an advanced graduate degree. Lastly, if you have both certifications and a degree, find some training that will help you with your current position or one that will up the odds of you landing a new position. Utilizing these three methods to grow your IT career will help you to avoid letting your career become stagnant and will keep your skills ahead of the ever shifting technology career field.