Are you interested in starting a career in the tech field? If so, get ready for an exciting challenge, plenty of job opportunities, and many different paths to choose from. The first step is simply assessing where you are in the journey. For instance, have you already taken coursework or notched some job experience? Do you want to take stand-alone courses online in order to prepare for a formal degree program, or is your goal to complete a master’s degree in the field? Everyone’s situation is unique, so check out the information below to get a more complete idea of where you stand, what you still need to do, and how you’re going to pay for your future education, training, and certification.
Choose Training or Education
In all, there are about a half-dozen different ways you can acquire the necessary skills to enter the field. A good number or busy, working adults simply teach themselves via textbooks, online videos, and in-person tutorials. Some use volunteer work and brief internships to gain on-the-ground skills. More common ways of gaining expertise include associate’s degrees, college degrees, graduate programs, and intensive bootcamps for working professionals who want to enhance the skills they already possess. Before you begin the journey to the career path of your choice, decide how you want to learn. Some folks thrive in a formal classroom setting while others are better off learning at their own pace with self-teaching or course-by-course approaches.
If you want to go all-out, as some students do, consider taking on a micro job (between five and ten hours per week) while in school, doing an internship during the intervening summers, picking up one year of on-the-job experience via a paid or volunteer gig after graduation, and then entering a master’s program ready to go. This intensive strategy is a way to pack the maximum amount of learning into a six- or seven-year window of time and come out on the other end as associate’s highly trained pro with lots of options. You’ll have your pick of employers or can start fresh as a solo entrepreneur in consulting.
Consolidate Existing Student Loans
Working, mid-career adults who have a few years of college under their belts and want to complete a degree are in a good position. So are those who have finished college and aim to attend graduate school for high-level academic training. If you’re in either of those camps and still have a few outstanding student loans, the idea of loan consolidation can be a smart way to straighten out your finances. Not sure what education debt consolidation entails? Don’t worry, because there’s a comprehensive, no-cost guide that can help you understand all the options and figure out exactly how to get a loan consolidation done right. Consolidating old loans brings order to your financial situation and give you the peace of mind that comes with it.
Master the Basics
Know What the Master’s Degree Programs Teach
If you end up in a full-blown master’s program, be ready to have a lot of choices. For starters, you’ll likely be taking at least a few courses in operating systems. Here’s where you can put your coding and basic programming skills to good use. You’ll not only learn how to implement complex operating systems and create them from scratch, but you’ll also dig deep into subjects like modes, various kinds of virtual memory, synchronization, and different types of deadlocks.
Additionally, you’ll be picking up valuable skills for designing, analyzing, and modeling all sorts of information systems. If you ever hope to become a systems analyst, this course will show you the technical and project management skills needed to take on the position. Finally, most educational tracks won’t let you go without at least one or two classes in web search techniques and general information retrieval. It hardly needs to be said, but post-college programs are intense, detailed, and challenging. They aim to impart high-level expertise and they do a good job of it, as long as you apply yourself, keep the long-term career goal in mind, and give 100 percent of your effort to the courses.
Do you want to work as IT auditor or security analyst? What about breaking into the desktop support or general tech category? Or, perhaps you already possess a broad skill set and hope to work your way into project management. Regardless of the particular niche within the tech field you intend to pursue, there is a certification for it. In fact, there are dozens of them, and new ones are coming along all the time. Some are tied to specific manufacturers’ branded systems while others are more general tests of computer-related knowledge.
It’s difficult to come up with a complete list because certifications go through popularity cycles. However, as of early 2021, three of the most common cert trainings are CISSP (certified information-system security professional), PMP (project-management pro), and A+ Technician for CompTIA. Of the three, the PMP is probably more designed for people with high level skills who are ready to put in about 18 months of study to complete the coursework. For those new to the technical field, the A+ Technician is an excellent cert to obtain because it focuses on more general skills and looks great on a résumé.