Information Technology or IT, is a vast subject, including many niche disciplines. Additionally, there are many routes to the IT world. So knowing where to start can be challenging. So much so that when considering a career in IT, people often get overwhelmed with analysis paralysis. However, if you have the slightest interest in technology, it’s worth pursuing. Not least, because it offers some of the most futureproof career paths with endless opportunities for career development. Therefore, this article aims to break down into simple terms, how to get into IT no matter what stage of life you’re at.
Many school leavers shy away from careers in tech because they assume it means going to university to get a Computer Science degree. However, that is not the case, and there are many alternative routes for school leavers to get into IT.
The Academic Approach into IT
If you’re happy to stay in education post 18, there are several options available. If you perform well academically, the most obvious route into a technology job would be A-Levels, followed by a university Degree.
The most popular way for newly qualified graduates to break into the world of IT is through a graduate programme with a large corporation. However, you don’t need to have studied Computer Science to get onto an IT-related graduate programme. Of course, this is at the company’s discretion, and each will have it’s own entry criteria, but it’s worth taking a chance even if you’re not sure. You may get onto an IT graduate scheme with a degree in related subjects such as:
- Accounting & Finance
- Business & Management Studies
- Communication & Media Studies
- Computer Science
- Electrical & Electronic Engineering
Alternatively, if you prefer learning through a more hands-on approach, you might consider a Higher National Certificate (HNC) or foundation degree in Computing. Either of these options will prepare you for your first entry-level tech job.
If you prefer learning by doing, you might be better suited to an HNC. Whereas an HNC is a more practical approach to learning, a foundation degree will teach you a good mix of hands-on and academic skills.
An HNC only takes a year to complete, whereas a foundation course will take two years. However, the foundation course will equip you with a broader range of tech skills and therefore open the door to a more comprehensive selection of job opportunities. However, an HNC is still an excellent gateway to your first tech support job role.
The alternative to staying on at college is, of course, an apprenticeship. Following this route into IT will also mean you get paid whilst you learn. Traditionally, apprenticeships were only available to 18 to 24-year-olds, but now, you can be an apprentice at any age. This makes apprenticeships an ideal choice for anyone wanting a career change into IT later on in life.
Apprenticeships start at level 2, which is equivalent to GCSEs, Level 3, which is equivalent to A-Level and go right up to Level 7, which is equal to degree level. There are hundreds of available apprenticeship subjects to choose from, the most applicable for anyone wanting to start learning IT are:
- Data analyst
- Data scientist
- Digital and technology solution specialist
- Infrastructure technician
- IS Business Analyst
- Network engineer
- Project manager
- Software developer
- Software tester
- Unified Communications Technician
- IT Application Specialist
- IT, Software, Web & Telecoms Professional
For those considering a career change into IT later on in life, aside from apprenticeships, there is a multitude of options for online learning. There are many different options available, depending on how serious you are or what level of knowledge you already have.
Some online course providers such as Udemy, enable you to get a brief taste of a specific area of IT. Whereas others, require a deeper level of comment and lead to a recognised industry certification exam, such as Microsoft. This is a popular option for anyone wanting to break into Software Engineering or Web Development.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that being self-taught is less valuable than traditional academic study. Hiring managers often seek out potential candidates who have taught themselves. The reason being that it demonstrates determination and a willingness to invest in your personal development. Both of these are essential soft skills for tech professionals.
Where Might Your IT Career Lead?
To get a feel for the kind of jobs available if you decide to get into IT, why not check out our latest jobs? Of course, the jobs we have available now will be gone by the time you complete your training. However, they certainly give you an idea of where your future career might lead and the kind of salary you can expect to aim for.
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