How to Start a Successful Career as an Information Technology Specialist

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Oct 15, 2018

Oct 15, 2018 • by Rebecca Smith

Do you find yourself fascinated by computers? Are you naturally gifted when it comes to technology?

Our lives are surrounded by technology, but it's not infallible. When things go wrong, somebody needs to be around to fix it.

If you're the person everybody turns to for tech advice, a career as an information technology specialist could be the right one.

Here's how you can start a career as an IT specialist today.

Choose Your Discipline

If you want to know how to become an IT specialist, the first thing you should consider is what exactly it is you want to be a specialist in. IT, after all, can mean anything from fixing printers to developing phone apps.

Choosing your discipline early isn't essential, but it can help you make to make career decisions that have an impact on your career later on.

For instance, want to be a network specialist? You'll need to work through several Cisco-certified network certifications, with relevant job experience, to be able to become an industry-recognized expert.

Not sure what you want to specialize in? Here are 5 of the best paying IT career paths for IT professionals to consider.

Education and Certification

Any career choice you make will likely require you to educate yourself, but with IT, you don't necessarily have to go down a formal education route to get an IT job.

When you're looking to advance to specialist IT roles, however, you should consider whether having a bachelors in IT could help you stand out against your competitors. That's especially true if you're dealing with HR departments that aren't savvy on your industry.

But a degree really isn't everything in this career. IT specialist requirements for job roles might ask for a degree, but they'll want to see more. After all, an IT degree that's 5-10 years old could already be out of date.

This is where professional certifications can help. They demonstrate a commitment to regular training and help you develop the vital skills you need for your career.

Here's a list of 10 of the highest paying IT certifications you should have on your resume.

Jobs and Training

Knowing how to become an IT guy is relatively straightforward, with plenty of entry-level job roles available for those keen enough to enter the industry. But to specialize? That's going to need time.

Specialist roles will require job experience. This will vary, depending on the role you're looking to take on.

If you're a new IT professional, plan your strategy. Find the entry-level job roles that give you the opportunity to gain the skills and experience you need to move forward.

An entry programming job can lead to more senior roles within 3-4 years, and then onto more advanced, and better paid, project management opportunities.

After all, you can learn the basics of your trade in school, but it takes on the job experience to help you translate ideas into practical solutions. You'll also need to have the communication skills to explain these to your clients.

Let's give you an example. Do you have a client asking why you need to protect data? You're going to need to know how to answer. Here's a valuable lesson on why securing valuable user data is so important for businesses and organizations.

Continuing to Develop

The information technology requirements for job roles vary for the specialism you're looking to take, but it isn't just the IT skills you need to think about if you want to continue to develop into becoming a real specialist.

Continued professional development is important for any career, but for IT professionals, you should look at regularly updating your IT certifications, and taking every opportunity to explore new skills.

Change is everything in IT. Whether you're employed or you're seeking a new role, dedicate time each week to exploring new trends in your specialism or practicing new skills.

Don't forget the soft skills, either, like becoming a confident communicator. Practice in front of a mirror to become better at public speaking, so that if you're faced with pitching to the bosses, you don't end up with stage fright.

Keep your resume up to date by including any new skills you've learned or any additional responsibilities you've picked up. This habit could save you time when it's time to look for other opportunities.

If you've got the work ethic to succeed, continued development will come naturally. If you're not sure what else you need to do, here are 5 tips you could use to help you become an excellent IT specialist.

Planning for the Future

Where do you expect to be in ten years time?

It's a cliched interview question to ask, but it's an important one to think about. You might be at the start of your career, or you could already be an IT professional looking to become a specialist. Either way, you need to know where you want to end up.

Your plans may change, but setting career goals can help you to avoid becoming too comfortable in one role.

So, where do you see yourself in ten years?

Most specialist roles can lead to management or project supervisory positions after a few years. You'll need experience and the skills to show that you can take on leadership roles, so don't forget those soft skills we've already talked about.

If you really want to impress, pick up a few more qualifications along the way. A masters degree can help show employers that you're serious about career growth.

Masters degrees can also help you advance your specialisms, too. A project management masters degree will open up the supervisory roles you might be looking to gain in the future.

Become an Information Technology Specialist

Don't just take our word for it. IT specialist roles in software development and systems analysis will grow in demand by 20% by 2024, meaning it's never been a better time to change careers and get your foot in the door.

Information technology specialist roles are highly paid, well respected, and only growing in demand, so you'll never be short of opportunities.

Sound like the career for you? See if there's an IT role for you on our jobs board.