Are you working in a non-IT field and considering making a change of career into the IT industry? You’re not alone - many people have done this before, but it’s not easy. It will take planning, patience, and perhaps some further education to make the career move successful.

The concept for this post originated from a comment - a reader of my site named James has asked a question on how to make a career move into IT:

“I have no experience and am currently in marketing but want to make the career switch. I’m considering going for a Masters in Information Systems while working as a network support person. Does anyone have tips on how to make that kind of career switch when your undergrad degree was not in an IT-related field?”

I’ve decided I would write a whole post on this topic, as it’s a process that is worth focusing on.

Be Sure That You Want To Change Careers

The first task to ensure is that you actually want to make the career move into IT. You'll have to take some time and actually consider why you’re making this change. If you simply don’t like your current job, there’s more that you can do than change careers.

The main reason I say you'll want to be sure, is that it’s not a simple and fast process to change careers. You don’t go straight to the job boards and start hunting for “it jobs”. If you’re unclear you want to change, then you might quit along the way. If you're sure, however, then it’s easier to stay committed to your decision and you’ll be much better at it in the long run.

Create A Plan To Change Careers Into IT

You’ve chosen to make the transfer to IT - fantastic! I’m clearly biased, but working in IT is a great career choice!

The next step I recommend is for you to make a plan. This means you should list out all the actions you should take between your current position and the position where you have your desired IT job. This might include steps like:

Deciding the type of role you desire to do - There are lots of roles in IT and each demand different skills. I’ve detailed this below.
Examining your current skills - You should figure out what your own skills are and how you can use them to get an IT job. This isn’t specifically just IT skills - other skills such as communication are valuable in the industry.
Checking what education or knowledge is needed, if any, for the new role - Different roles might need different prerequisites or certifications to get into.
Searching out the new role to start in - This involves searching for the actual job - job websites, LinkedIn, recruitment agencies.

What Kind Of IT Role Do You Want?

There are many roles in the IT market - and each of them have different skill requirements. You will need to figure out what type of role in the IT market you'd like to do. There are many factors that could contribute to this:
Are you doing any IT-related work at the moment? For example, you could be doing some Excel VBA/Macro programming in your finance career, or you might be doing some IT support work in your marketing employment. This is often a good way to see what sort of role you would like - do you like these areas, or do you want to do something else?
What area in IT could you picture yourself most enjoying? If you picture yourself employed in IT, and enjoying it, what would you be doing? Does it involve speaking with people, working with hardware, developing software, or something different?
These types of questions and analysis can assist you decide which kind of role you'd like to do. If you’re not sure, have a look on some job sites to see what job descriptions are mentioned. These can assist you settle on certain roles.

Speak To Others Who Have Made The Career Change Before

You’re not the first person to want to swap from another career into IT. There are actually individuals who have done this before. You may know someone, or know someone who does. It’s recommended that you find and speak to someone who has made this change before.

When I was in university, there were a few individuals in the course that had switched careers and wanted to work in the IT sector. They had several other roles before that and had made the decision to change their career. It could be useful to chat to these kind of people to find out what assisted them, what mistakes they have made and what you can apply to really succeed.

Do I Need To Get A Degree?

A number of jobs in the IT industry need degrees to begin in. This is because they are targeted towards graduate-level roles who have no job experience with IT or any other sector. You are in a different circumstance, though - you have work experience already, despite the fact that it’s in another industry.

The response to this question is dependent upon which role you would like to move into and what your experience is. The objective of a degree is to provde the knowledge and skills that you'll require for a job. If you have already got the skills, or similar skills, then this may be enough to get you a job in the IT field.

For instance, it may be tough to get a role as a Java developer if you don’t at a minimum have a degree or certification relating to Java development. Getting a degree in computer science, or a certification in Java development could be a great way to begin a career in this area.

If you’re seeking a less technical role, it may be easier to do without a degree. A team manager role will probably be ideal if you've got the skills of people management. If you arrive from a sales or marketing foundation, it may be easier for you to transfer into an account manager or business development role in an IT company, letting you get the IT experience and even change into a more technical IT role (if that’s what you’re after).

Organise Your Finances

Moving careers is a tough process. On the list of toughest parts about moving is the toll it takes on your funds. Depending on your present job and your financial situation, it's possible you'll face a shortfall in income for a while. This is one thing you’ll probably need to prepare for, particularly if you’re taking a pay cut from your existing role, or if you’re going back to university to study.

Update Your Resume

The last part of making a career move into IT is to update your resume. Depending on how much time you’ve been employed by, you might be able to update a recent one, or you may want to create it completely from scratch.

This is the time you'll want to be emphasizing your strengths. Obviously, lack of IT experience is something that is not likely to be a positive for an IT resume. However, mentioning your other skills and how they connect with an IT role makes sense. If you come from an accounting foundation, you will likely have an analytical thought process and an focus on detail. Should you come from a sales background, speaking with people and negotiating are a couple of skills you will likely have. Putting these into your resume is a good idea.

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