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Want to change career path and get into IT. Need advice on how to start.


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#1 Negotron

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Posted 22 January 2014 - 05:39 PM

Hi, I'm currently a Corrections officer coming up on my first year next week. Long story short since I turned 19 I was employed by the local sheriff's department and I've been trying to become a Police officer, six years later after a lot of work I instead ended up in the local county jail. It's not my dream job but don't get me wrong I can do my job and really well but I don't see myself doing this 20+ years when the highest I can get paid is when I reach 17 years at 50k yearly which it's ridiculous, my cousin its in the IT field as a help desk technician I believe and he makes 45k starting I'm at 31k. 

 

Anyways I would like to get into the computer/IT field. I'm not sure where to start or what course of the computer field to go into. My cousin said to me that you don't need college to get a job as a help desk tech all you need are the certifications like a+ and some other ones that I cant remember. So basically I would like more information and hopefully y'all will be able to help me out. I'm good with computers but I never build one or attempted to fix one when it comes to hardware, I might be able to troubleshoot software issues but I ain't no pro I'll eventually end up asking for help in a forums like this one if I can't figure it out. I am willing to learn though.

 

What should my first steps be to get in the field? What side do you guys recommend engineering, software, security, network?



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#2 tg45

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Posted 22 January 2014 - 11:13 PM

IT is interesting, because there are jobs where you just specialize in one aspect of IT, but then there are jobs where you need to know a bit of everything. You certainly can get certifications and not go to college, but employers love experience in such a case. Comptia A+ is the first certification to take. It is kind of just like a sign that you have general computer knowledge (it still takes lots of study to get the certifcation though). A+ won't guarantee employment though, but after getting A+ it is good to gain experience before getting other certifications.

 

You should be looking at what interests you in IT. It is possible to jsut be a Network tech and mostly just be running and punching down wires, however some network techs need to know how to configure switches, routers, etc. In larger enterprises you might be get limited to a single area like deployment, or helpdesk. It might be possible to get a helpdesk job with just A+, but it probably won't be well paying. A plausible path for helpdesk might be get A+ certified - get job as phone support for a Internet Service Provider - Get helpdesk job at company. You could also work for a computer repair shop. I would guess your current experience would mostly help with consumers, so maybe you would want to look in to that, however there probably aren't as many jobs in consumer-based repair shops, the money is in servicing businessesWithout going to college, you will have to work your way up and get certifications as you go.

 

I became A+ certified through self-study, then I got a job as a sales associate (it was kind of like receptionist/service writer) at a local IT company. I kept studying, got MCTS certified, and also became a Apple Certified Mac Technician, then I became an in-shop tech there. I then got my Comptia Network+ and now I am an IT Admin at a medium sized business. Everyone's career path's with be different. I would say A+ is where to start, but where do you want to end up? Do you like doing 'hands on' things (Network wiring tech), or do prefer actually working on a computer (helpdesk, deployment, IT admin), or do you like a bit of both (Computer repair shop tech), how are you with customer service? (helpdesk, repair shop) There are a lot of other positions out there, for example some IT solutions computer might have a specific 'printer deployment' position. And depending on where you work, some of the lines might cross a bit. For example, being an IT Admin with my current employer means that I will be running network cable, where some places they might have a specific person who does it or hires an outside company.



#3 Kilroy

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Posted 23 January 2014 - 04:51 PM

First, do not get into anything just for the money, do it because you enjoy doing it.

 

Second, IT is a huge field with many different areas that you can go into.  You need to decide what you want to do, we can't tell you.

 

The basic certification is CompTIA's A+ which signifies six to 12 months hands-on experience in the lab or field.  Then you can go for some of CompTIA's more advanced certifications like Network+, Security+, or Server+.  You can see by looking through those links that they build upon each other.  You can also go with the Microsoft or Citrix certifications.

 

Certifications, like a college education, will get you the interview, ability and experience will get you the job and the money.

 

Part of the problem that you have is that right now there is a high demand for entry level IT people due to the number of organizations doing Windows XP to Windows 7 migrations.  By the time you can get your certifications a lot of these people will be looking for work and have experience.

 

Another thing to point out is that you always have to be learning in IT.  You can't let your skills stagnate.  You don't necessarily have to keep your certifications up to date, unless required for your job, but you do have to keep up with changes in your field.  The truth is, once you are working you will only be going after certifications for advancing to your next job, unless it is required.  Some companies have to have X number of people certified in X technology to keep their partner arrangements and other such deals.  The rest of us have no use for the information contained in the certification exam for product X as it does not apply to how we are using it in our environment.

 

After all of that, I've been doing IT work professionally for over a decade.  I have my A+, Network+, Microsoft MCP (no longer available), and a number of HP certifications.  My last certification exam was taken in 2003, due to the discovery that the exams would not provide me or my company any additional benefit.


Edited by RKilroy, 23 January 2014 - 04:51 PM.


#4 Negotron

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 05:34 PM

First, do not get into anything just for the money, do it because you enjoy doing it.

 

Second, IT is a huge field with many different areas that you can go into.  You need to decide what you want to do, we can't tell you.

 

 

Well lets be honest nowadays money is something to consider from salary to retirement. I sort of stumbled in law enforcement and since I got in I said to myself if by 25 I don't make it as a Police Officer then Ill go in a different direction. I'm 25 now not where I wanted to be and I'm exhausted. Growing up I always said that I wanted to go to school to study something related to computers but I never got that chance. So yeah money is deciding factor but just as much as doing something that I always wanted to do plus any other job is more enjoyable than working in a jail trust me.

 

Now I'm not into networking but I'm interested in network security or software engineering. What are pros and cons in your opinion on them? Is one harder to obtain than the other? I think I would like more than anything just help resolve issues that people have like a program not working or a virus etc.

 

Another question I have even though I guess it depends where you live and the opportunities but say I get a certification(s) and a AA degree (which is what I'm thinking of doing)  would I have to settle for a low paying job just to gain experience and then move on to a better paying one? I wouldn't want to take a big pay cut.  

 

My plan is to go back to college and get at least an AA degree in whatever field I decide to go in which could take me 2-4 yrs depending how many classes I can take and when I'm done pursue the job. You guys make it sound like after u get a cert. u can get in but I still want an AA degree and eventually get a BA degree. My current job pays me back my school as long as I get a C or better so im not sure about leaving my job right away. Thoughts?


Edited by Negotron, 24 January 2014 - 05:35 PM.


#5 Kilroy

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 04:20 PM

The reason that I mention chasing the almighty dollar is that it doesn't matter how much money you make if you don't enjoy what you do.  I could always make more money, but will I be happy doing what it takes to get that pay check?

 

I know squat about software engineering.  Network security isn't something you're going to start doing, it will be something that you work towards.  The same probably goes for software engineering.  All jobs have their ups and downs, the trick is finding the job that has more ups for you than downs.  I'd suggest using college as a way to figure out what direction you want to go.  No matter what degree you go for you're going to have classes that are the same for different tracks.

 

A degree is like a certification, it will open the door for an interview, but then you will have to show you know what you're doing.  If you get hired then you have to prove it.  I don't have a degree.  Up until a few years ago I had 0.0 college hours.  What I do have is years of experience in many different environments with a lot of hardware and software.  I enjoy learning how all of the parts fit together so that when something goes wrong I can find the problem, then either fix it or hand it off to the people who can. Even with all of the experience I have each new job comes with learning how the organization I am working for puts the pieces together.  For a lot of the issues you will find in IT there are many different ways to solve them.  A lot of the time it will be finding the best fix for the situation you are in.  As I enjoy saying, "With sufficient funding I can solve any problem."  Unfortunately sufficient funding is normally one of the problems you have to solve.






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