Navigating a Career in Information Technology

IT Career Professional

If you’re looking to transition to a career in information technology, now is an ideal time. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Overall employment in computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations from 2022 to 2032.” The high demand for IT professionals translates to abundant job opportunities and attractive salary packages. In 2022, labor analytics firm Lightcast reported that the median annual salary for IT professionals was $118,000.

Below, we explore the different career paths you can take within the IT industry and learn about the degree and certificate programs available to help you get there.

What Is the Right IT Career Path for You?

The field of information technology is vast and offers many career paths. It’s helpful to get a better understanding of the specific IT career paths that align with your skills, interests and goals. Here are a few of the most popular IT career paths:

  • Software Development: If you have a passion for coding and problem-solving, a career in software development might be a good fit. Software developers design, develop and test software applications, working on everything from web to mobile app development.
  • Cybersecurity: With the increasing threat of cyber-attacks, cybersecurity has become a critical field. Cybersecurity professionals protect computer systems and networks from unauthorized access, data breaches and other security threats.
  • Network and Systems Administration: Network administrators manage and maintain computer networks within an organization. They ensure that networks are secure, efficient, and reliable and troubleshoot any issues.

Other popular IT careers include computer support specialists, web developers, database administrators, cloud computing specialists and IT consultants. Once you have identified the best IT career path(s) for you, research the skills and qualifications required for the role. This will help you make informed decisions on how best to pursue a career change.

Degrees and Certificates to Transition to an Information technology Career

Bachelor’s in Information Technology

A Bachelor’s in Information Technology will provide a comprehensive understanding of core IT concepts. This knowledge base will equip you with the technical skills needed to perform many entry-level IT jobs. Many employers in the IT sector, especially for higher-level positions, prioritize candidates with a bachelor’s degree. Having a bachelor’s can significantly improve your chances of landing an interview and getting hired compared to applicants with only experience or certifications.

Second Degree Programs in Information Technology

You don’t always need to complete a bachelor’s degree from scratch to enter the field.  You can complete the Bachelor of Science in Information Technology, Second Degree entirely online. If you already have a bachelor’s degree, you can focus on the information technology electives that will best prepare you for your desired IT role.

Certificate Programs in Information Technology

Certificates provide a cost-efficient way to build skills and knowledge in a specific area of IT, allowing you to rapidly enhance your credibility and marketability. For example, UMass Lowell offers undergraduate certificates in the following:

Even better, all certificate coursework you successfully complete can be applied toward UMass Lowell’s Bachelor of Science in Information Technology should you choose to further your education.

You may also pursue graduate-level Cybersecurity and Systems Models & Management certificates. Admissions to the graduate certificate programs do not necessarily require completion of a bachelor’s degree in IT. However, graduate IT certificates typically require that you complete, or have completed pre-requisite courses in math and programming.

Job Search Strategies for IT Professionals

After you’ve acquired the education and credentials to enter the field, you’ll need to prepare for the job search. Networking, creating a well-crafted resume and cover letter, and preparing for interviews are all part of a successful job search. See Career Services for Online Students for more tips on how to succeed in your job search.

Facilitate Connections through Networking

Networking is a powerful tool for finding job opportunities in the IT industry. Events and conferences are great opportunities to meet other IT professionals and learn about the latest trends and technologies. Take advantage of these events by engaging with attendees and exchanging contact information. You can also utilize online platforms like LinkedIn for networking in the IT industry. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people and ask for advice or informational interviews.

Tailor Your Resume and Cover Letter to Different Positions

Regarding job search strategies, utilize various resources such as online job boards, company websites and recruitment agencies. Next, tailor your application to each job posting and follow up after submitting your resume to demonstrate your interest and enthusiasm. Your cover letter should explain your interest in the position and how your skills and experiences make you a strong candidate.

Ace Your Interview 

When preparing for an IT interview, it’s essential to research the company and understand the specific requirements of the role. Be prepared to answer technical questions about programming languages, networking protocols or cybersecurity best practices. Remember to ask thoughtful questions to demonstrate your genuine interest in the role and to gather more information about the company’s culture and growth opportunities. Your confidence and interview preparation will increase your chances of being selected for the position.

The Importance of Continual Learning and Professional Development for IT Professionals

Information technology is constantly evolving, and staying on top of the latest trends and technologies is essential. Stay curious and explore new technologies and programming languages. Follow industry blogs and podcasts to stay informed about emerging trends. You will succeed in this rapidly growing field by targeting your IT career path and investing in your education.

The job market for IT professionals is booming, with many opportunities available across industries. From small startups to large corporations, every organization needs IT professionals to manage their systems, develop software and ensure the security of their networks.

Learn more about the Bachelor of Science in Information Technology available at UMass Lowell.