College Degrees for IT Career Preparation

College-level curriculum in certain technical fields is useful preparation for an IT job. Several options exist for students, including associate and bachelor’s degrees. The major a student picks for their degree helps them either prepare for a specific IT job or get a broad background to prepare for many entry-level jobs.

Specialized IT Associate Degree (2-year)

A 2-year degree in a specific IT field, such as computer repair, system administration, web development or mobile development, is an ideal option for a student who already knows the area of IT in which they want to work. Detailed training in this field prepares them for a job soon after they graduate. 2-year degrees are less expensive than bachelor’s degrees and are typically available at a community college. While the starting pay a graduate receives at their first job is usually less than what someone with a 4-year degree would earn, the specific skills they learned about their field helps them advance fast and continue to learn.

Computer Science Associate Degree (2-year)

Many community colleges offer a general degree in computer science for students who want to prepare for a bachelor’s degree. This degree usually includes required math, introductory programming and general education requirements. After completing the degree, students can transfer many of these credits to a 4-year university program.

Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science (4-year)

A 4-year computer science degree from a reputable university can provide considerable general knowledge about math, programming, software design, algorithms and computer systems. Further specialization can tailor the degree to include areas like networking, databases, web development, artificial intelligence, mobile development and IT security.

Often, computer science students do a co-op or internship with a company to get real work experience on their resume. Many computer science programs also offer a capstone course where teams of students work together on a semester-long project for a company. All of this is useful preparation for real IT work upon graduation. With a both broad and specific knowledge of IT, in addition to practical work experience, students are well prepared for most entry-level IT jobs when they graduate.

Conclusion

Both associate and bachelor’s degrees in IT are great options for career preparation. Colleges offer many paths students can take at both levels. The path a student chooses can help them prepare for a specific career or give them general computing knowledge and project experience that prepares them for a variety of IT jobs.

Students – top off your educational experience by earning certification. Learn more about earning Business Computing Associate certification.

Certification in an IT Discipline Can Advance Your Career

The IT world is an ever-evolving landscape. What is hot today, is passé tomorrow. The skills required in 2017 and beyond are a world apart from what they were several years ago. A Bachelor’s degree is often an entry level requirement for a job in IT. Five years after you’ve earned it much of what you learned is no longer cutting edge. Certifications help to keep your skills fresh and documented.

Demonstrate Your Skills

Certification in a needed skill area is a great way to show current and prospective employers that you are dedicated to continuous improvement. It demonstrates that you are keeping aware of current trends and future trends. Certification indicates that you have proven yourself knowledgeable to a trade association, user group, or vendor and have the skills and techniques to approach and execute the projects and tasks that employers need.

Vendor Certificates

Most major IT vendors provide their own certification tracks. CiscoMicrosoftIBMApple and AWS all offer certification tracks around their hardware and software programs and equipment. These certifications are all valuable to the IT professional looking to make a career of their products.

Other Certificates

Non-vendor/product certificates can also be advantageous. ITILPMP and CISSP, in conjunction with the previously mentioned certifications, display a well-rounded approach to IT integration to other disciplines. The application of the knowledge gained in acquiring these certifications to the technical knowledge gained through the other certifications improves the specialized knowledge of the specific help to prepare you for management-level positions.

COMMON Certificates

If you use IBM Power Systems and IBM i, you should investigate COMMON’s certification options. There are six different options, some for new professionals, some for those more experienced. Topics range from Business Computing to RPG, IBM i and AIX. Certification exams can be taken at locations throughout the United States or at COMMON events.

Demand for Cloud Technologies

Those who have skills and experience with cloud technologies are going to be much in demand in the next few years. According to Tech.Co, the use of cloud computing technologies is expected to quadruple in the near future. Estimates are that cloud data centers will manage a whopping 92 percent of all workloads.

So who are the biggest contributors to this massive progression to the cloud? The biggest players are the IoT (internet of things) and big data centers. Most of the growth will occur in public cloud data centers, with the use of private clouds beginning to decline. Interestingly, predictions are that infrastructure as a service (IaaS) will decline somewhat, due to many organizations focusing on improving their own corporate infrastructures, including both data storage for sensitive information and acquisition of their own high-speed connections.

In addition, a recent study, “2017 Cloud Computing and Business Intelligence Market Study” conducted by Dresner Advisory Services, notes that as organizations are turning to public clouds, they are also looking for cloud-based business intelligence tools such as dashboards, advanced visualization tools, ad hoc queries, data integration and data quality, end-user self-service and reporting features. The study goes on to note the trend for increasing demand for cloud-based BI services, is largely driven by smaller organizations. However, not included in their across the board “must have” list for BI services, is social media or streaming analytics, although these are still important in certain industries.

Trust in the cloud is not just increasing for businesses. Consumers are also expected to demand more from the cloud. Estimates are that personal cloud storage will increase from 47 to 59 percent. That may not sound like a huge percentage increase, but globally the increase represents about a billion more users.

The future looks bright in the cloud, supported by both business and consumer demand. Anyone interested in applying their technology skills to this trend will most likely have a bright future as well.

IT Personnel Management Tips

IT personnel management is not easy. Even some of the most seasoned professionals in this field will struggle. However, if IT personnel managers keep a few things in mind, they can expect much better results from their team members.

Learn Flexibility

Many people are promoted into IT personnel management positions after they’ve excelled by working independently. When working with other people, it’s important to make sure that they have some control over the process. Working with subordinates means adapting to their needs, ideas, abilities, and suggestions. Managers who can be more flexible will be more successful in general.

Develop Conflict Resolution Skills

IT personnel managers will run into emotional and disordered conflicts no matter what they do, regardless of the intelligence and maturity of their subordinates. They cannot respond by avoiding the conflict or escalating the conflict by ridiculing the people involved. IT personnel managers must become experts at diffusing the conflict and trying to find a way to satisfy as many people as possible by keeping their concerns and abilities in mind.

Create Professional Relationships

Being a manager of any kind requires high-level social skills and the ability to develop solid working relationships. Managers who are able to do this will often find that everything else will fall into place as a result. Managers do have to avoid being too involved with what their subordinates are doing, of course. However, they also can’t be too distant. Striking a balance and caring about the needs of employees helps lead to good relationships between employees.

It isn’t easy to get promoted into IT personnel management. However, many people will learn the requisite skills in time.

Wanting to improve your management and people skills? Take a look at the 2017 Fall Conference & Expo Focused Education Roadmap – Developing Business Skills.

IT Education – Preparing for a Career in Data Science

Data Science

Do you love mathematics? Do phrases like “data warehousing” and “v-lookups” bring out the inner nerd in you? If any of this sounds familiar, you might want to steer your direction toward a career in Data Science.

According to Patrick Circelli, a senior recruiter for the IT recruiting firm Mondo, “Data Science is all about mathematics, so having that type of degree — mathematics, information science, computer science, etc. — is especially key for these roles. Hiring managers really love that.” Circelli goes on to describe the must-haves for anyone preparing a resume for a career as a data scientist. His list includes:

  1. A degree in Information Science, Computer Science or Mathematics
  2. Microsoft Excel, specifically the use of pivot tables and v-lookups, and knowledge of SQL queries and stored procedures
  3. Programming skills in any of the following languages: C++, Java, Python, R, or SAS
  4. Concepts such as predictive analysis, visualization and pattern recognition, i.e. understanding how data operates, and skills that could come from data visualization tools like Tableau
  5. NoSQL database environments like MongoDB, CouchDB or HBase
  6. Data warehousing

Although there are many areas in IT that require data science skills, thanks to relentless cyber attacks, the growth rate in security data science specifically, is booming at 26%, with the security analytics market set to reach $8 billion by the year 2023. Anyone who can create a resume listing Circelli’s recommendations, along with a desire to focus pointedly on data security to combat hackers and cyber attacks, can probably write their own ticket in the tech world for decades to come.

Should IT Career Professionals Worry about Generation Z?

If you have IT skills, you’re likely in a pretty cushy position right now. You can find work just about anywhere in the developed world, and you can demand a decent salary even when you’re just starting out. If you have skills in some of the top programming languages like Ruby on Rails, you might find yourself earning six figures in less than two years, (after starting out at over $70,000 per year). That’s nothing to sneeze at. The IT industry is one of the highest paid there is in the marketplace today.

However, there are some key reasons for this:

  • Almost no one understands what you do
  • Everyone needs you to keep their technology running and safe
  • Everyone needs you to explain their technology
  • Almost every business needs you to thrive and keep pace with the competition
  • People who do understand what you do are either older, seasoned technology professionals, secure in a career path headed for retirement or Millennials enjoying the gig economy and the freedom it affords them

Generation ZHowever, more research is starting to show that Generation Z members are quite different than their predecessors:

  • Unlike Millennials, they are looking for secure jobs and long-term careers
  • Like Millennials, they don’t remember life without modern technology – they understand it (this means many of them will be able to do what you do)

In addition, Generation Z expects technology to work on demand. They watch whatever TV seasons they want when they want without commercials. They download albums in just a few minutes. They want customer service and networking to primarily occur over social media. They will demand the most from technology and strive to make it happen. They are more modern, yet at the same time when it comes to money and work, they’re traditional.

If you’re sitting comfortably in the IT industry, you would do well to learn some additional programming languages and do all you can to ensure your IT career or at least your financial future is secure. It might not be a bad idea to start a second business while you have cash flow coming in. You might want to work much harder for that position on the management team. You might also want to consider entering the field of higher education at least part-time in case you have to transition later.

There are many ways to start preparing for financial security. Now might be the time for you to find the right one for you. Five or ten years from now might be too late.

How to Be a Better IT Personnel Manager

Team

Chances are, if you are a manager in IT, you want to become better at your job. You want a team that works well together and you want to be able to inspire them to greatness. If this sounds like you, we can help. Here are some tips on IT personnel management that will help you succeed at becoming a better leader.

Lead First, Manage Second

A team needs a leader more than it needs a manager. But what is the difference between a manager and a leader? A leader isn’t just concerned with a list or an agenda, though those things are important. A leader is concerned with a direction. A leader’s job is to move his team into new territory and to inspire to greatness.

Inspire

As a manager, you should seek to be an inspiration to your team. Don’t just tell your team what to do, give them the motivation to do it. Encourage open communication with your team so that you are the kind of person they want to look to for leadership and inspiration.

Be a Good Communicator

Your team deserves to know what’s going on, it’s the only way they’ll be able to perform as they need to. Being a good communicator will improve the effectiveness of your team’s performance.

Being a good manager is key to good business. If you’ve found this post helpful, be sure to share it.


Looking for more personal development opportunities. Check out the Developing Business Skills sessions at the 2017 Fall Conference & Expo.

The Benefits of Certification

There’s still a lot of competition in today’s job market. Even skilled IT professionals will tend to struggle to get jobs today. Getting specialized certifications can make all the difference for people who are looking for a job or trying to succeed in a career.

Career Advancement

Having IT certification can mean the difference between getting the job and staying in the job market for even longer. Some employers will actually narrow down the applicant pool based on who has certification and who doesn’t. Certified individuals will also find it easier to network with people who have similar certifications, which can enhance their career opportunities.

Rising in a company and getting a higher salary often requires people to familiarize themselves with new technologies and acquire new skills. People will usually need to provide some documented evidence that they have such skills and knowledge, and earning new certifications can make that happen.

Career Stability

Employers are more likely to keep certified employees on staff during difficult times. People with high-level certifications have documented skills that other employees won’t have. People who earn new certifications will make themselves more valuable employees.

New certifications allow IT professionals to stay relevant. The technological world changes very quickly. Skills can become obsolete just as rapidly. The people who are progressing further with certifications immediately send the message that they’re able to adapt to this transitory environment. These are the people who will keep their jobs or get new jobs more easily. Certified people know their field and they can network within the field more effectively.

Learn more about COMMON Certification.

Advance Your Career with Professional Networking

Networking is particularly important for those just beginning their career in information technology and for those who work as an independent IT contractor in their own home or office. For those who just landed their first job in IT, their face-to-face interviews were critical in determining whether or not they were given the opportunity to start a lifelong career. Anyone who works independently will also find great benefit in making connections with companies and individuals who can deepen their knowledge of the IT field and perhaps even offer them development projects.

New Professionals

For those just starting out in their career, networking offers an opportunity to make connections with other professionals and great occasions to keep abreast of the latest ideas and innovations in a field that changes very rapidly. Just as with job interviews, face-to-face events help to build name recognition for those just beginning in the field and allows them to interact with others more advanced in their careers. Many technology positions require individuals to spend most of their day engaged in front of a monitor and they might not necessarily have occasions to interact much with others who are busy performing their own duties. Different formats such as conferences and in-person events allow new entrants to the field to engage in and feel part of the overall IT community.

Independent Contractors

For those who work independently, group activities such as webinars, educational events and user groups provide opportunities to engage with other professionals. For some, building connections with others may very well translate into new work contracts. For others, they may find satisfaction in acting as a consultant to impart their expertise to others in informal settings. In addition, since technology is constantly changing, even experienced independents need to stay aware of the latest technology trends in order for their skills to remain relevant.

Come join us here at COMMON for networking opportunities that will expand your knowledge base and enhance your career.

Networking at a COMMON Event

Networking

Most In-demand IT Careers in the USA

IT careers are hot. From 2014 to 2024, demand for information technology professionals is expected to grow by 12.5 percent, which is almost double the 6.5 percent increase forecast for all other occupations. This is according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Within the field, the following will enjoy the highest growth rates.

Web Developers

Web Developers are expected to see growth rates of 27 percent because of the continued increase of e-commerce. Retailers now consider a website a necessity. In addition, the increasing use of mobile devices to access the web will produce more work.

Computer Systems Analysts

Jobs for Computer Systems Analysts are forecast to increase by 21 percent as more organizations rely on new computer systems. Larger companies typically hire their own analysts as smaller firms outsource to independent consultants and service providers.

Application Software Developers

Application Software Developers are predicted to see their employment grow by 19 percent because of the demand for software on mobile devices and tablets. As more consumer electronics use computers, so will jobs for developers grow.

Information Security Analysts

Information Security Analysts are needed to take care of the growing threat of hackers against all kinds of computer systems from government to retail. Jobs for these professionals are predicted to rise by 25.5 percent.

Looking for a new IT position? Don’t forget the COMMON Career Center. Create an account and search for jobs – it’s free.