Choosing an IT Career Path
By: George Monsalvatge
Published: May 29, 2018
When I was growing up, my parents wanted me to be a doctor, lawyer, or an accountant. Why? Because those were the jobs that were in demand.
But in the 21st century, computers rule the world. I don’t know whether or not the prophecy of the Terminator will come true. I have not seen a big dude in shades and a black leather jacket asking for Sarah Connor yet. However, I do know that careers in the IT field have grown tremendously in the past ten years, and that growth is expected to continue. In this article, we will take a closer look at a variety of IT career paths to help you decide which one is a good fit for your skills and interest.
Cybersecurity Career Path
This is the most logical place to start when exploring IT career paths with great potential for employment. Job growth in the cybersecurity field has exploded.
“Cybersecurity professionals report an average $55.77 per hour according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”
That’s considerably more than the average hourly wage of an employee in private industry, which around $26 per hour.
Cyberattacks on major companies have been all over the news in recent years—Yahoo, Equifax, eBay, Target, JP Morgan Chase, and others have all been hacked. Users’ personal identifiable information was stolen, and the reputation of the companies took a hit, as well as their stock prices. Companies cannot afford to have a “read and react” defense strategy when it comes to cybersecurity. Companies are investing heavily in their cybersecurity infrastructure. A big part of that investment is hiring people to work in and grow their cybersecurity infrastructure.
How can you get into cybersecurity the field? There are many books and a variety of training programs available, but if you are serious about getting into this field, you should concentrate your studies on earning a certification. Certifications prove to potential employers that you have a base level knowledge in a given discipline. There are several certifications that you can strive to achieve in cybersecurity.
If you have experience in cybersecurity, and you want to earn a certification, I suggest one of these three:
- CompTIA Cyber Security Analyst (CySA+)
- Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
Each of these certifications can be earned by passing one exam. CySA+ focuses on detection and response of cyber threats. CISA focuses on systems audit, control, and security. CEH focuses on penetration testing. I recently passed the CySA+ certification, and I highly recommend this book to help prepare for the exam. All of these exams require significant preparation, but there is an abundance of good study materials available.
Network and Cloud Technologies Career Path
There is strong demand for people who configure and administer networking equipment and services on-premise and in the cloud. If you currently work with servers or routers, or in a cloud environment, you may want to consider the following certifications.
- Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MSCA)–Cloud Platform
- Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Solutions Architect
Both Network+ and Cloud+ certifications consist of a single test. Network+ focuses on the network-related technologies such as file transfer, IP addressing, routers, switches, and other network technologies. Cloud+ focuses on virtualization of servers, cloud security, and resource management.
CCNA, AWS Certified Solutions Architect, and MCSA–Cloud platform are advanced certifications that focus specifically on the vendor’s products. CCNA focuses on routing technologies, switching technologies, and infrastructure services with Cisco equipment. AWS Certified Solutions Architect focuses on designing and deploying scalable, fault tolerant systems on Amazon Web Services. The MCSA-Cloud focuses on building scalable, fault tolerant systems on Azure web services. The CCNA and AWS Certified Solutions Architect are a single exam, but the MCSA-Cloud consists of four exams.
Hardware, Services, and Infrastructure Career Path
There is also still strong demand for IT professionals that help support, build, and maintain a company’s IT infrastructure. If you want to support desktop services or other infrastructure services, I would recommend the following certifications.
CompTIA A+ requires you to pass two exams that focus on hardware and operating system fundamentals. If you are just starting out in the computer industry (especially if you work at a help desk), this is a great certification to earn. Server+ is a single test that focuses on supporting server hardware and software. All CompTIA exams are vendor neutral, meaning they do not solely focus on one vendor’s hardware or software. MCSA–Windows Server consists of three exams that solely focus on Windows Server 2016.
IT Management and Strategy Career Path
If you interested in an IT career path that leads to a managerial position in the field, I would recommend the following certifications.
Project+ and PMP cover similar topics regarding managing the product life cycle, resources, and stakeholders. Project+ is from CompTIA, and PMP is from Project Management Institute (PMI). The Project+ is more of an overview of project management, while PMP is an in-depth examination of PMI project management objectives. PMP is the more recognized project management certification.
It’s an excellent time to make a change with your career. Take a look at which career in IT may be right for you, and plan how you can achieve that career. When you look at job sites for particular job postings, see which prerequisites the employer is requiring. This will give you an idea of what additional training you may need. Good luck in your IT career journey!
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