The idea for this post came from a comment – a reader of my site named James has asked a question on how to make a career switch into IT:
“I have no experience and am currently in marketing but want to make the career switch. I’m considering going for a Masters in Information Systems while working as a network support person. Does anyone have tips on how to make that kind of career switch when your undergrad degree was not in an IT-related field?”
I’ve decided to write an entire post on this topic, as it’s a process that is worth focusing on.
Be Sure That You Want To Change Careers
The first step to confirm is that you actually want to make the career change into IT. You;ll need to take some time and actually think about why you’re making this change. If you simply don’t like your current job, there’s more you can do than change careers.
The reason I say that you need to be sure, is that it’s not a quick and easy process to change careers. You don’t just go straight to the job boards and start searching for “it jobs”. If you’re not sure you want to change, then you might give up during the process. If you are sure, however, then it’s easier to stay committed to your decision and you’ll be better at it in the long term.
Create A Plan To Change Careers Into IT
You’ve decided to make the move into IT – fantastic! I’m clearly biased, but working in IT is a great career choice!
The next step I would suggest is for you to create a plan. This means you should list out all the steps you need to take between your current position and the position where you have your desired IT job. This could include steps such as:
Determining the type of role you would like to do – There are many roles in IT and each require different skills. I’ve detailed this below.
Evaluating your current skills – You should determine what your current skills are and how you can use them to get an IT job. This isn’t necessarily just IT skills – other skills such as communication are valuable in the industry.
Checking what education or knowledge is needed, if any, for the new role – Different roles may need different prerequisites or certifications to get into.
Finding the new role to start in – This involves searching for the actual job – job websites, LinkedIn, recruitment agencies.
What Kind Of IT Role Do You Want?
There are many different roles in the IT industry – and each of them have different skill requirements. You will need to work out what kind of role in the IT industry you want to do. There are many factors that could contribute to this:
Are you doing any IT-related work at the moment? For example, you may be doing some Excel VBA/Macro programming in your finance job, or you could be doing some IT support work in your marketing job. This can be a good way to see which kind of role you want – do you like these areas, or do you want to do something else?
What area in IT could you picture yourself most enjoying? If you imagine yourself working in IT, and enjoying it, what would you be doing? Does it involve speaking with people, working with hardware, developing software, or anything else?
These kinds of questions and analysis can help you determine which kind of role you want to do. If you’re not sure, have a look on some job sites to see what job descriptions are mentioned. These can help you make a decision on certain roles.
Speak To Others Who Have Made The Career Change Before
You’re not the first person to want to change from another career into IT. There are people who have done this before. You may know someone, or know someone who does. It’s a good idea to find and speak to someone who has made this change before.
When I was in university, there were a few people in the course that had changed careers and wanted to work in the IT industry. They had various other roles before that and had made the decision to change their career. It can be helpful to speak to these kind of people to find out what helped them, what mistakes they have made and what you can do to make it easier.
Do I Need To Get A Degree?
Many jobs in the IT industry require degrees to get started in. This is because they are targeted towards graduate-level positions who have no job experience in IT or any other industry. You are in a different situation, though – you have work experience already, even though it’s in another industry.
The answer to this question depends on which role you want to move into and what your experience is. The purpose of a degree is to give you the knowledge and skills that you need for a job. If you already have the skills, or similar skills, then this could be enough to get you a job in the IT industry.
For example, it may be tough to get a role as a Java developer if you don’t at least have a degree or certification to do with Java development. Getting a degree in computer science, or a certification in Java development would be a good way to start a career in this area.
If you’re looking for a less technical role, it might be easier to do without a degree. A team manager role will be ideal if you have the skills of people management. If you come from a sales or marketing background, it might be easier for you to move into an account manager or business development role in an IT company, allowing you to get the IT experience and even transition into a more technical IT role (if that’s what you’re after).
Organise Your Finances
Switching careers is a tough process. One of the hardest parts about moving is the toll it takes on your finances. Depending on your current job and your financial situation, you may face a shortfall in income for some time. This is something you’ll probably need to plan for, especially if you’re taking a pay cut from your current role, or if you’re going back to university to study.
Update Your Resume
The final part of making a career change into IT is to update your resume. Depending on how long you’ve been working for, you might be able to update a recent one, or you may need to create it from scratch.
This is the time you should be focusing on your strengths. Obviously, lack of IT experience is something that is not going to be a positive for an IT resume. However, mentioning your other skills and how they apply to an IT role is a good idea. If you come from an accounting background, you will likely have an analytical way of thinking and an attention to detail. If you come from a sales background, speaking with people and negotiating are some skills you will likely have. Adding these into your resume is a good idea.
I hope these tips have helped you if you’re looking to make a career change into the IT industry. Good luck with your move and I hope it works out for you!