If you are in love with technology, Information Technology may be the career field for you. See other articles here on HowToDoThings for tips on getting IT training. Then, once you are prepared for an Information Technology career, get out there and land that first IT job in your new chosen field.
Your first job in IT may not be all that glamorous. You can plan on paying your dues at an entry-level IT job to build experience. Fortunately, an entry-level IT job still pays better than most other entry-level jobs you can get without a college degree. Get your resume into tip-top shape. List all the training and experience you have. You do have experience if you have ever torn down and rebuilt a computer, installed a motherboard or hard drive, or managed to troubleshoot and fix your neighbor's system. Don't miss anything, but don't embellish either. It won't do you any good to get an interview if you just fall on your face. You will get shot down in your interview if you can't demonstrate that you actually have the skills and knowledge you claim on your resume.
- IT is a rare field in one respect. Even though it is a field that requires a great deal of technical knowledge, you can acquire the requisite knowledge completely on your own if you are dedicated enough. You do not need a degree from a college or university to get a job as an IT professional. There are volumes and volumes of resources available at your library, at bookstores, and especially online to prepare you for an IT career, and many of these resources are free or very inexpensive. You can then demonstrate your knowledge by taking tests and achieving certifications. Even with no experience, you can land a decent entry-level job in IT.
- Before you start, be aware that IT is not a profession for which you will find many opportunities in a small job market. There are not a lot of large companies needing many people on their IT staff. The big cities have a lot of companies, a lot of openings for IT staff, and even during a slowdown, have at least some demand for IT professionals. Do you want an IT profession badly enough to relocate? Are you prepared to take that kind of risk?
- Start looking for an IT job in your local newspaper. Make sure you look closely at the job titles and qualifications. The entry-level positions will have titles like administrator, technician and specialist. There are several types of specialties within the IT field: systems and database administration, network, communications, quality assurance, support and help desk. At small companies, you may very well be expected to learn it all and support it all. This is a very good way to start out. You may find that you are more satisfied performing in a different specialty than you initially had planned and trained for. You will find other free employment guides distributed in supermarkets and at various locations where they give away free publications. These almost never have any worthwhile IT jobs in them.
- Don't neglect the online employment services. They are especially valuable for finding IT jobs. Some companies use only Monster.com, for example, or a similar online service and never advertise in the newspaper to fill their IT or other high tech needs. Competition is tough for these jobs. You are competing with top-notch talent in the IT field. You typically will fill out an online application with a questionnaire that will help the service match you and your skills to the needs of their employer clients. Many of these services are available. I have listed several of the most popular among the recommended links at right.
- And once you are an experienced and proven IT professional with several certifications on your resume, you will find that having a network of fellow IT professionals is invaluable. Never miss an opportunity to go to that free breakfast sponsored by a local Internet Service Provider or the seminar being put on by Dell or IBM or HP. Go to the free presentations sponsored by Microsoft. You will meet and get to know the IT Managers and Directors of all the companies in your local area. Yes, everyone is trying to sell you something, but at the same time, you are selling yourself at every one of these gatherings. IT is a field with a lot of upward mobility. Develop a reputation as a friendly and helpful IT professional who works hard and produces excellent results. Be prepared when your friend at Company X lands that better job at Company Y so that you can take his position and open up your job at Company Z for the area's newest entry-level IT specialist.
Good luck with your IT job search. Be sure to check out the job service links at right.