Staying on top of your game in the IT job market requires constant re-skilling. This is what attracts many people to IT in the first place; it is always changing and evolving at a fast clip.
In any case, whether you would like a job in a new area of computing, would like to advance with your company, or simply want to retain your current position, follow these steps to improve your IT job skills.
- Check to see if you company offers in-house training. It's a competitive IT market, and companies want to retain their talented IT staff. Many companies offer in-house training, either in small classes or off of the corporate website. This is likely to be in areas of IT that the company is looking to expand or augment, so if you are interested in going into a new area of IT within your company, this is something to consider. This is also a good way to brush up on your current skills. Perhaps there is a new version of your programming language; these kinds of classes will help you stay current.
- Check to see if your company offers tuition reimbursement. Many companies will offer to pay for classes you take to improve your IT job skills. They may have a set-up with a local college, or may allow you to choose where you go. Some companies have a cap of tuition allocation, so if you want to pursue schooling whose tuition is beyond your company's support, consider how you will pay for it when tuition reimbursement ends.
- Talk to other parts of the IT department (and others) to see where your company is going as far as new technologies. Your boss may be impressed that you are looking to keep current with what the company is doing, and that you have enough company loyalty to want to branch out. HR is also a good link to what jobs your company will soon be looking to fill.
- Request catalogs from local colleges. Because they often get more funding per student from the state, a lot of community and state colleges have the most cutting-edge IT classes. Once you have a sense of what direction of IT you would like to explore, looking through the catalogs from local schools is a great way to find a way to improve your IT job skills.
- Consider online classes. Your company (or one you would prefer to work for) may be deploying a rather esoteric technology that local schools don't teach. You likely can find an online class that teaches it. Talk to your boss to see if you can do this on company time. If not, then consider it an investment in your future career. You'll be glad later.
- See if your alma mater offers free or low-cost programming classes to alumni or the spouses of alumni. If you are still located near where you went to school (or if they offer online tutorials/classes), your college is likely to offer classes at a fraction of what you paid - or would pay - for tuition. These may be classes just for alumni, or they may be the actual classes that current students are taking. Either way, you will gain new IT job skills that are complimentary to the curriculum that you were initially taught.
You will need to improve your IT job skills sooner or later if you plan on staying in the field. If you consistently stay current with new technologies, whether through online continuing education classes or hands-on training, then you will be assured of getting and keeping a job that you'll love!