Are you a tech enthusiast? Do you wish to venture into the information technology career but not sure where to begin?
Many people out there find themselves in a situation where they know what they want, but they lack knowledge of how to go about it.
If you are a beginner trying to enter the IT industry, you can start a tech career in 1st level support role even if you do not have a college degree.
You Really Don’t Need College to Get Started in IT
We are going to share a few tips on how to begin. Before we do that, let’s quickly list the three most prevalent myths about getting into the tech industry that most people believe are true.
Myth #1: You need a degree in computer science or information technology to get any job in the tech industry.
Myth #2: The knowledge and skills you need to excel in any tech-related job are taught in the university.
Myth #3: Tech industry employers care more about your college degree than other courses.
These can’t be further away from the truth but are so widely taken as truth that many people don’t even think about trying to get into IT and tech without college, robbing themselves of the opportunity of a prosperous career.
Tech is changing and adapting fast, so college degrees mean little. Your willingness to learn and adaptability are the most important.
Ways to Launch Your Tech Career
It is no secret that college education is very expensive. Some of the reasons why it is hard to get by include lack of state funding, lack of financial aid, increase in demand for tech jobs, need for more lecturers and funds to pay them.
Fortunately, employers in the IT field know better than to just look at a college education. Many of them will actually consider people who have acquired their technology skills by different means.
Here are some ways you can do that.
1. Online Information Technology Courses
There are plenty of free and low-cost online courses that can brush up on your information technology knowledge and skills. Most of these courses require just a computer and an internet connection.
Some of the courses that can beef up your resume include:
- Dash General Assembly
- MIT OpenCourseWare
- Khan Academy
See what each of them offers and choose those that will benefit you the most. They are a great way to learn new tech and IT topics and stay on top of new technology trends.
2. Getting IT Experience Through Volunteering
If you do not have any technology-related training or hot certifications, you still have a chance of getting into the market for tech jobs. How?
Many tech employers nowadays prefer to hire people who have real-world experience.
But how can you get experience without a job? It is very simple. Through volunteering.
It is a valuable way to prove yourself outside classroom training and can help you link up with valuable contacts essential to a successful job search.
Where to Volunteer
Tech enthusiasts looking for volunteer work can consider the following opportunities:
- Volunteer Matching Organizations
- Community Volunteer Centers
- Do-It-Yourself Volunteering
Churches, homeless shelters, grassroots environmental groups and other nonprofit organizations often depend on tech professionals to do everything from developing websites to setting up local networks for their organization.
“Volunteering is a great way to get hands-on experience. It’s a great way of building people and technology skills,” says Joan Heberger, program associate at TechSoup.
Heberger also states that volunteer work helps provide answers for many important work-related questions such as whether the applicant can handle deadlines, work as a team or apply classroom lessons into the actual workplace situations.
3. Acquiring Skills through Working on Your Projects
In today’s ever-competitive job market, getting an IT-related degree alone is not enough. Tech employers are looking for more than just the knowledge and skills you have earned by studying an IT-related degree.
Tech employers are looking for skills and practical experience you have learned outside the classroom.
Working on your projects is another way to get that hands-on experience outside of the workplace. You’ll learn all about valuable project-specific attributes, skills, and knowledge that employers are looking for.
Working on your own project is a good way to show your skills and work beyond what you have documented on your resume. It is a better way to demonstrate to your future employers that you indeed have some work experience outside a formal job.
How do you get started?
There are many self-motivated projects you can start at home to improve your IT skills and knowledge.
Entry-level support jobs often come with formal education, but having some advanced knowledge of computer hardware and software issues will benefit you. Therefore, it might be smart to learn troubleshooting common PC issues.
Alternatively, if you are an aspiring developer and want to build a portfolio instead, you can code a simple app, or make your own website where you will showcase your skills.
If you have taken an online IT course, you can take the knowledge you gained and apply it to your project. If you learned how to develop a website, make one website like a sample and show it to the world.
Websites like Techloop and IT-related social networks and forums can help you establish connections with people who have the same interests and activities.
Build your presence wherever you can and showcase your skills, build authority, and potentially catch an employer’s attention.
4. Explore internship opportunities
Have you taken an online tech-related course and already have your first certification?
If you are considering starting a tech career in 1st level support role, look for internship opportunities.
Below are several ways to develop your skills while you are doing your internship.
- Having a mentor while taking your internship is crucial to attaining new knowledge and skills
- Raising your hand for new challenges
- Read and look for problems to solve
- Make friends in other departments
- Find learning opportunities internally
While an internship often requires some serious commitment compared to a side job, getting one at a tech-related company can help you enrich your resume, not to mention an insider’s view of the technology industry and lots of new IT connections.
Whether you are interested in starting a new tech career or changing the direction of your current career, you don’t need to enrol in college to get your IT-related education.
There are many programs and online courses that will take you from having no experience in the information technology field to being a highly-skilled job-market professional.
Do not sit on your skills. Grab your chance today.
About the author:
Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate techie. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie devours the news on the latest gadgets and binge-watches his favourite TV shows. Follow him on @bmorepeters