Wherever you find yourself in your career, whether you’re a bright-eyed college student looking for your first big job or already well established in the field, there is always room to grow and more to learn. Nowhere is this truer than the ever-changing field of Information Technology (IT). IT is at the center of the complex web of today’s online global economy and attracts tens of thousands of potential recruits every year. As technology continues to develop at an increasingly rapid pace, it falls on us to cultivate and acquire the new skills and abilities necessary to be competent workers. So how do you keep up with the vast IT world?
As Steven Ostrowski, Director of Corporate Communications at the Computing Technology Industry Association explains, you have to be dedicated to learning. There is always something new on the horizon and having a passion for lifelong learning will make a substantial difference in your career trajectory. “For the people who are working in the industry now, the best advice we offer is to expand and work on their skills,” says Ostrowski. “It’s very difficult for any one individual to stay on top of everything, but look for those opportunities, even if you have to do it on your own time, without the support of your employer.”
The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) is well known as the industry standard for the various certifications or diplomas it offers, among which are A+ for more general Information Technology fields along with more specialized certifications like Security+ and Linux+. These courses are highly coveted by IT professionals. These types of courses, as Ostrowski explains, are extremely important in demonstrating to potential employers that you actually have the skills you claim to have. If you have completed these courses, “you’ve gone through some rigorous training and testing; these days it’s not just a multiple-choice test,” rationalizes Ostrowski. “There are more simulations and real-world situations during these exams, so you can say you can set up a firewall or recognize an intruder. [It’s also] a lot easier today than it was five or 10 years ago when you were confined to going to boot camp or sitting in a classroom for a week. There are a lot of great online options out there for training when you want it and where you want it.”
Indeed, online opportunities for IT courses are increasingly sought after. As the world gets smaller and smaller due to internet connectivity, everything you need to push you up another wrung on the career ladder is at your fingertips. While traditional courses at a university or a bootcamp are still viable options, online courses have been designed to help you succeed at your pace and in the place of your choosing. With the development of virtual labs that run real software, not only can you obtain essential and up-to-date knowledge, online coursework can give you experience with real world scenarios that are crucial to standing apart from the crowd.
When it comes to getting your foot in the door, Ostrowski knows how important experience is in the IT arena. He states, “the first thing HR managers are looking for is experience. Next on the list are credentials and certifications that are valid and relevant for the job you’re applying for. It goes back to the fact that you’ve demonstrated and proven in a way they can recognize that you can do the things you say you can. Rather than trying to wade through hundreds of applicants who may not have the right skill set, they can use a credential to make the first cut and then go on from there.”
While it may be ideal to fill your resume with dozens of certifications, that’s not realistic for most people. Selecting the right specialty and type of course for you and your lifestyle is vital. According to Ostrowski, “security is the hottest topic right now, so anything related will serve you well. Things related to cloud computing; things related to mobility. Go through want ads and look for certifications that employers are asking for.” Cybersecurity is a crucial aspect of any company and security jobs can be found both in house and through firms. Online threat management skills are especially pertinent. Coursework that illustrates proficiency in Cybersecurity and Security+ can put you on the fast-track to stepping into your new IT role. As consumers become more comfortable with cloud computing, the importance of experience related to cloud technologies, security, and management cannot be overstated.
Familiarity with legacy technologies is good, but it’s really more of a checklist item. Proficiency in up-to-date technologies such as cloud computing and cybersecurity is the way of the future. While it may seem daunting to strive to be current with the latest and greatest in IT, doing so will be well worth the effort. It may not be easy to be proactive when it comes to career advancement, but online courses are an excellent avenue to help you gain the knowledge and experience to impress current and prospective employers.
If you’re looking to step up your IT game and climb the ladder, Ascend Education can help you find the right path. With online virtual labs, high quality content written by industry experts, and videos designed to keep you engaged, you’ll acquire the experience you need to succeed in the real world. Ascend’s online coursework will prepare you to meet NIST standards and is geared towards CompTIA exam objectives. Online courses can be taken where and when you choose and include a variety of topics including Cybersecurity, Virtualization, Cloud computing, and Security+.