How to Get Ahead in an IT Career

Updated on May 14, 2021 | by Abby Hill

Today, IT is one of the most popular career paths in the world. This industry has taken off massively in the past few decades, with some of the richest entrepreneurs in the world such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg making billions of dollars in tech. Software development and other IT-related jobs are high on the list of career choices for many, and kids everywhere see tech as their future. If you would like a high-paying job in a dynamic, constantly evolving industry, the IT sector is the place to be. Here’s how to get ahead in your IT career. 

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Get the Right Education

While many people have taught themselves and managed to achieve a successful career in IT, these are in the minority. Yes, it’s more than possible to teach yourself how to code or build complex databases, but to get ahead in the corporate world, the right education and qualifications are typically required. If you want to work your way up to a senior position in IT, the best place to start is by studying for a relevant degree major. Various subjects will work including IT, computer science, software development, or computer engineering. Once you have a bachelor’s degree, it’s definitely worth looking into expanding your knowledge, skills, and certification with an online master’s in data science or similar. 

Keep Up with the Industry

The IT world moves forward at a very rapid pace, so to get ahead with your career, keeping up has never been so important. In the world of IT, today’s innovative and cutting-edge developments are old news tomorrow. Achieving a senior position in IT means staying a few steps ahead, and you can only do this if you’re really on the ball. It is also worth researching locations where the job that you want to do is more in demand, such as LA, where software engineers are in higher demand compared to many other areas and can earn up to six figures annually. 

Improve Your Business Skills

Although hard skills in IT are essential, to get ahead in this career you’ll also need to have a good grasp of business economics. To perform your role effectively and make an impact, you must have a strong understanding of how a business works and how the IT work that you do impact it. 

Boost Your Communication Skills

Stereotypically, people who work in IT are often thought of as people who sit in dark rooms surrounded by computers and empty fast-food boxes. However, while this person might be a genius in the real world, having no social skills or communication skills is never going to get anybody far when it comes to climbing the career ladder. To be successful in the IT industry, you need to have good communication skills. Not only will you need to be able to explain complex ideas in layman’s terms, but you’ll also need to be an active listener and able to understand the information that is being put across to you. Daily, you’ll be speaking to colleagues, clients, and senior members of staff. 

Be Open to New Opportunities

Just a few years ago, it was much easier to graduate from college and find a secure job for life. However, these days, things are less secure. Employees can get laid off at a moment’s notice, the company that they work for could be acquired or emerged, or teams might be outsourced instead. Although the IT industry benefits from offering more security compared to many other industries today, it’s important to always be looking for new opportunities and building a strong online presence to help you find and attract them. 

Be Adaptable

Being able to adapt quickly to change and embrace change regularly is a key attribute for anybody who wants to get ahead in an IT career. In this industry, it’s important to be prepared for your role and job situation to change constantly. Even if you are certain of your career path and do much the same type of jobs throughout your career, the world of IT is constantly changing and updating with new techniques and technologies being brought to the table every day. Changes to how customers use products and services, working with different managers and teams, and adapting to the latest tech advancements are all a huge part of working in a successful IT career. 

Keep Your Skills Relevant

When it comes to IT and tech, the industry is subject to so much change that it’s all too easy to end up being left behind. What you learned when you first got your degree in a relevant subject may no longer be relevant in just a few years or even months from after you graduate. Because of this, it’s important to work hard to ensure that you stay relevant in your IT career. Whether that’s spending time keeping up to date with the latest technological advancements, acquiring new skills with online training, open-source courses or books, or working with a mentor who can keep your skills sharp and current, the priority should always be on ensuring that you do not fall behind. 

Network

Finally, building a strong network is also important for IT professionals. When you are surrounded by the right people, you will increase your knowledge and skills and become more confident in your career. And, having a strong professional network to turn to will make it easier for you if you find yourself in a situation where you are looking for a new job or are considering starting your own business. When you are around people who are intelligent and ambitious, your own value will also rise. 

Today, IT is one of the hottest industries to work in, and it overlaps with many other fields. Whether you want to get into software development, product development, big data, or another area of IT, it’s important to get the right education, keep your skills and knowledge relevant, and build a strong professional network.

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