How to Start a Career in IT: Success Stories from Software Engineers

Whether you’ve been interested in IT since you were in school or you’re looking for a new beginning in your career, there are plenty of reasons to start a career in IT, and the timing couldn’t be better. We’ve collected tips and experienced advice from software engineers and built a practical guide for your job search.

Why should I become a software engineer and start a career in information technology?

  1. Demand. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “employment in computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 13 percent from 2020 to 2030.” The industry is growing, and as it does, it faces a colossal shortage of workers. There are already more IT job openings than specialists in the field, so, if you decide to start a career in IT now, you will be in demand. 
  2. Low-barrier to entry. Although a major like Information Technology, Computer Science, or other tech-related degrees makes getting into IT easier, not having one doesn’t void your chances of getting a job. In many cases, people can become software developers without any degree at all, but you should be ready to start at an entry-level position to gain experience.
  3. Salaries. Another attractive reason to start a career in information technology is solid entry-level salaries and attractive benefits that increase over time. The “Computer and Information Technology Occupations” statistics of the  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that computer and information technology professionals made a median salary of $91,250 as of May 2020, significantly more than the median salary for the rest of occupations making $41,950. Europe has similar stats; in Israel it is $76,791, in the UK $68,462, in the Netherlands $54,025, and in Germany $60,162.

How do I become a software engineer and start a career in information technology?

  1. Dive into the industry and make a list of IT jobs you might like. Whatever reasons prompted you to change your previous workplace and start a career in IT, make sure your new job fits your newfound passion. Career transition is not an easy thing, so go in with lots of information to build your confidence. A good first step is to research the available IT jobs. Use YouTube channels, podcasts, blogs, and forums, visit Quora and Reddit, and study reports (for example, LinkedIn’s 2020 Emerging Jobs Report). Understanding what you’re interested in will narrow down your choice and give you a specific focus. You can also play information technology trivia to figure out what you already know about the industry and research available IT jobs.
  2. Learn to code. Once you’ve made a decision to become a software engineer, it’s time to learn programming languages. People usually start with HTML, a relatively easy language that doesn’t require much expert training, and then switch to other languages like JavaScript, Java, C++, Python, and Ruby. These are considered more advanced languages that require more time investment and training. However, IT isn’t limited to engineering. Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need to code to start a career in information technology. Consider becoming a project manager, manual QA engineer, business analyst, or even a marketing specialist.
  3. Get a certification. The fastest way to get your foot in the door of the IT industry is to get certified. Earning a tech degree at the university is a daunting task and may take you up to four years, while certifications can be granted within a year, depending on the field. You can choose between self-studying or attending diverse courses, both in-person and online. For those who have little experience, training sessions with an expert are the best options, since you can ask questions. Whatever way of studying you choose, remember that by getting a professional certification, you’ll show your potential employers your knowledge and capabilities.
  4. Re-examine your previous experience. When making a decision to start a career in IT, it’s important to have a look at your previous work. Although it may not be industry-specific, many of your skills may turn out to be transferable and help you build a solid foundation for a new career. Just think of an IT specialist with an arts degree who is more likely to execute a creative approach to problem-solving. Majoring in linguistics may have a tremendous benefit when it comes to communication and writing. So, instead of regretting wasted time for getting a non-IT diploma, try to figure out how you can put your previous experience to work for you. 
  5. Get practical experience. Once you’ve acquired some theoretical knowledge, try to gain some hands-on experience coding (or your other chosen profession). Not only will this help you boost your skills and help you start getting paid, but it can also enlarge your future portfolio and resume. This could be an open-source project that involves working hand-in-hand with other specialists. You can also gain experience through internships and freelancing. 
  6. Get free training. Many major companies offer free intensive training courses that come with job offers for the top students at the end of the course. This is a great way to understand the entry-level expectations of prominent IT companies, and can even help to jump-start your career.
  7. Build your network. Networking can be a useful way to learn more about the industry, hiring companies, opportunities, and more. Networking isn’t just about reaching out to as many people as possible. Building close connections is a good way to start a career in information technology and begin your IT journey because you will meet people who work in the field and can give you advice. Remember, when looking for a person to fill the vacancy, most employees would rather choose a recommended person that interviews dozens of strangers. 
  8. Update your CV. Your resume is the first thing that organizations will look at to see your skills and capabilities. Most employers are likely to scroll your LinkedIn page, too. Make sure to highlight your relevant skills and experience tailored for the positions you’re trying to fill. You should also have a cover letter explaining your previous experience, why you are interested in switching fields, and how your background may help you in your new role.
  9. Work on your interview skills. In an interview, you’re likely to face two major types of questions — about your personality and your technical skills. You can prepare for an interview by searching for popular technical IT interview questions and preparing some stories of good and bad experiences at your previous workplaces. Don’t forget to study the position properly so that you can confidently discuss both your job and the company.

Making a decision to change fields and start a career in IT is difficult. Making a plan and using tips on how to start a career in information technology, like the ones listed above, may help you become a software engineer from scratch.

Guest article written by: Alesia Z. I am passionate about providing diverse content, but my main focus falls on the IT dimension and Content Marketing strategies and technologies. I hold a strong belief in the inseparable power of a creative approach and hardworking in fulfilling the goals both in life and at the workplace. 🙂

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