Where to Start?

Where to Start?

There are many different types of careers in the IT industry.  The career that might be best for you depends on various factors and may not be something you determine right away.  Many people in the technical industry start with a wide focus, then hone their skills in specific areas that they find a passion for.  This is the journey of becoming a specialist or ‘Subject Matter Expert’.  Others like to continue gaining a broad technology understanding to become a ‘Technical Project Manager’ or an ‘IT Manager’.  Some decide they like coding and programming and delve into a type of application development.

 

In the tech field, you show potential employers your capabilities through industry or vendor certifications.

Finding Your Way

The sky is the limit in the tech industry, and each person needs to find their way and follow their passions.  For any of these career opportunities, there is always s a starting point.  In the tech field, you show potential employers your capabilities through industry or vendor certifications.

Are you starting off with very little computer experience?  The starting point for most entering the IT field with little experience is the CompTIA ITF+ (IT Fundamentals) certification.  The ITF+ is an introduction to basic IT knowledge and skills that helps determine if a career in IT is right for you.  It covers IT concepts and terminology, basic infrastructure, applications, software development, database fundamentals and security.  In working towards the ITF+, you will be exposed to many different aspects of the tech industry, which can lead to finding areas of passion and interest.  If you have little computer experience and considering a career in IT, FTSI recommends the ITF+ as your starting point.  The ITF+ is a great stepping stone towards the CompTIA A+ certification.

Do you already have some experience in building computers, installing operating systems and performing basic troubleshooting?  The starting point for you might be the CompTIA A+ certification.  The A+ certification covers core computing components, basic networking, and operating systems, all which are important to know in any IT career.  In working towards the A+ certification, students are exposed to many different aspects of IT, providing insight into the many basic needs of an IT career.

Why a certification and not a college degree?

While it never hurts to have a college degree, it is generally not needed to get started.  What is more helpful is having achieved one or more industry certifications.  Certifications show potential employers that you have the knowledge to perform the tasks they need accomplished and get your foot in the door to an interview.  The good news is that this is just the beginning of your journey.  As you find your technology passion niche and work towards your additional focused certifications, know that many employers provide partial or full reimbursement for college degrees that compliment your profession, if that is something you wish to pursue in the future.

What can I do with an IFT+ or A+ certification?

Most companies look for a minimum level of the A+ certification for entry level positions.  That doesn’t mean the ITF+ is not valuable, it is a great introductory certification that will progress you significantly towards the A+.  After you achieve the ITF+, your next goal should be the A+. 

The A+ will help you land an entry level position in a help desk or desktop support role.  If you search Google for ‘A+ Jobs’, there are many available, with salaries generally averaging around $50k/year with experience.  If you don’t have any experience in the field, you may need to start at a lower salary initially to gain valuable experience, even if it is only for a few months.

While the A+ certification is a great place to start, working in the IT industry requires a pretty constant study of industry trends, keeping up with technology changes and achieving additional certifications.

What should I do after achieving the A+ Certification?

While you journey through your A+ certification and make note of areas that interest you most, talk to your mentor about career paths that follow those interests.  By the time you complete your A+, you should have a relatively good idea of what you might want to focus on.  The A+ is not the end of your journey, consider this the first step.