The technology career field changes so quickly – faster than any other field in my opinion. My opinion isn’t purely conjecture, I’ve spent over 20 years in the tech career field, and I have seen first hand how quickly things change and advance. Servers are running more RAM than they ever have. Just the other day, I installed a disk drive that was the size of a deck of cards but had a 3.84 TB capacity! To make that relatable, in 2006, I purchased my first thumb drive that had a 256 MB capacity, and it cost me $35! Servers, network and storage are all virtualized, and the cloud is expanding its user base at a rapid pace. With so much constant change and new technologies coming out every year, how does one stay technologically relevant throughout their career? There are several ways you can stay relevant in your tech career. It will take some work on your part, but here’s how you can do it…
Get Certified and then Re-certify
Tech certifications have become so important, not only to help validate your skills but also so companies can compete on contracts that call for certified candidates. Many think that the certification market is just a cash grab by big name vendors, but I don’t believe that is the case. While many certifications are quite expensive, the value they carry far surpasses the cost involved in obtaining them. Certifications like CCNA, CEH, Security+, Network+, PMP, CSSP, and others keep you up-to-date on the latest technologies. However, you can’t just get certified and then sit back and relax. To stay relevant in the tech space, you have to re-certify and keep your skills up-to-date. Most certifications hold a three year certification period, which then requires a re-certification to stay current.
Go Back to School
Going back to school isn’t such a bad idea. While it may not allow you to focus on one singular technology, a good degree program in a tech field will help you have a broader skill set. Getting a technical undergraduate or postgraduate degree helps to grow your knowledge base, shows your determination to get educated, and applies what you’ve learned in the real world. A candidate with certifications and a degree is a highly sought after asset for any organization. You won’t have a problem finding or keeping a job.
Attend Tech Conferences
Technical conferences such as Cisco Live!, VMworld, Dell Technologies World, and others provide invaluable resources for keeping your skill set current. Generally speaking, new product releases and general availability (GA) announcements take place at tech conferences. Following keynote sessions, technical breakout sessions give individuals an opportunity to dig deeper into the technology and find ways to apply it to their work environment. The experience you gain from attending these conferences translates well when you come back to work and apply what you learned.
Read, Read, Read
There are so many good technical books out there. Books that range from tech cookbooks to coding instruction to security are readily available for purchase or to grab from the library. Take advantage of all the amazing books available and learn something new as often as you can. Currently, I’m reading a book on Learning Python programming. I have always wanted to gain some programming experience, and reading this book has me hooked. Depending on your skill set or speciality, you can find a book to suit your needs… read it and re-read it until you have a firm grasp on the subject.
…Rinse and Repeat
Those of us that work in the tech career field don’t have the luxury of learning a skill and then just honing that one skill for the duration of our careers. We have to constantly evolve and learn new things. Take this list and do the steps, then rinse and repeat. Working in the tech career field is a perpetual learning experience. If you fall behind the curve, it is hard to catch up. Stay ahead of the curve and keep up the good work, you will have a long and successful career for it.