If you’re reading this article, you probably are ready to build a successful IT career. So how can you get started? What job roles are the best for beginners but also give you enough opportunities to develop in the long run? No matter if you’re older and want to transition into IT, or if you’re young and you want to get started and get your first IT certification. In this article, I will give you a broad overview of the most common IT career paths for beginners, what skills are required, and which opportunities they give you later in your career.
Get into the field as a beginner in IT
Probably the hardest thing for people always is to get started. And I know this situation very well because I struggled a lot before I knew how to build a successful IT career. It took me a while to figure out where my strengths and weaknesses are and what interests me the most. Also, some people may have reservations because they think they don’t have enough experience or enough talent to become an IT professional.
But don’t worry, especially in IT it’s not so important where you come from. I’ve seen many people coming from completely different jobs who ended up in a very lucrative IT job role. The most important thing is to get a foot in the door and start somewhere. Don’t be afraid of taking action and start at the bottom, that’s the best way to learn something. And it will all pay off in the end.
Most people start with an entry-level IT job like Help-Desk or Desktop Support and use this to build their IT career. This is how I got into IT because I started to work for a small company in IT support. Usually, you don’t need any degree, certification, or experience for these jobs. This makes it a perfect opportunity to get a foot in the door, learn how to work with customers, improve your technical knowledge, and get your first experience in the field.
Most common IT career paths for beginners
Some people may end up working in those entry-level IT jobs for their lifetime. But I know from my experience that at some point you want to move on. You want new challenges, develop a successful IT career, and walk your way up. This was the first time when I seriously thought about my IT career and how I should develop my skills. IT is a vast industry with many different opportunities, job roles, and flavors. It’s not easy for beginners because you could feel overwhelmed by the different terms, certifications, and job descriptions. Let me tell you about the most common paths and what their Pros and Cons are.
Systems and Infrastructure
This is where most people start. The Systems and Infrastructure path includes roles like “System Admin” and “Virtualization Admin”. In these roles, you configure and maintain servers, virtualized infrastructure, and maintain hardware. You mainly will start your work with Microsoft Windows Servers, virtualization technologies, and sometimes Linux servers. A good way to improve your knowledge is by achieving certifications in these areas.
When you want to develop your IT career in this area you can also specialize in your skills further. Advanced roles in this career path are “Systems Engineer”, “System Architect” and Sales Consultant roles.
Networking is one of the most common IT career paths and it is very lucrative. You could easily transition from a “Systems and Infrastructure” path into Networking. But you could also start directly in Networking as a “Junior Network Admin”. Starting your IT career in Networking offers you a lot of opportunities, as you can either move up in this path to an advanced role like “Network Engineer” or “Network Architect”. But you could also specialize further in different paths like Cloud and DevOps or Security. Therefore, the Networking path is my favorite and it helped me to transition from a Systems Admin to a Network Security Engineer.
In this path, you should focus on Networking certifications such as the CompTIA Linux+ and Cisco certifications. Those certs are extremely valuable and usually required for all advanced networking job roles.
The Cloud Technology path is a newer IT path that came up a few years ago. Because it’s still relatively new, there are a lot of opportunities and job offerings in this path. But it’s probably not the easiest path to start with. Usually, people are coming from other IT career paths like Networking or Systems and Infrastructure as any Cloud job roles will require some fundamental skills in both areas. You could start as a “Cloud Support Engineer” and later move on to advanced roles like “Cloud Engineer”, “Cloud Solution Architect” or even “DevOps”. “DevOps” is a very special role as this is kind of a hybrid between software development and operations.
The two most important Cloud providers in enterprise business are unarguable Amazons AWS and Microsofts Azure. If you want to get started with Cloud you should focus on one or even both of these platforms and their IT certifications. This path is a very promising one, because of the big success and importance of Cloud Computing in the IT industry.
If you’re fascinated by hacking, pen-testing, and cybersecurity, this is the right path for you. The cybersecurity path is undoubtedly a very interesting and challenging one. People who become security specialists come from different IT career paths. Usually, this is not a career where people directly start with, because most roles require a lot of experience and knowledge in various IT technologies. Therefore it is also a very interesting path with many opportunities and well-paid job roles like “Security Engineer” or “Security Manager”.
It’s also very common to combine this path with other areas and technologies you’re already experienced with. When I started to work for an IT security company I started to work as a network security engineer. This offers a great opportunity for everybody who has good networking skills. For me, this was the way how I could make the transition from a junior role to an advanced IT role in an enterprise company.
In Cybersecurity, there are also some extremely valuable certifications existing like the CEH and CISSP.
Learn whatever you need for your Job
I hope this helped you to get some ideas about the most common IT career paths. The “Systems and Infrastructure” and “Networking” paths are both in my opinion the best for beginners. Both are very interesting and well established in the IT industry with many job offerings. If you start in one of these paths you can either stay there and walk your way up to advanced roles or move to other IT career paths like “Cloud” and “Cybersecurity”. It’s up to you what interests you the most and which opportunities you will get in your IT career.
The best advice I can give you that always helped me going forward is to learn whatever you need for your job. Certifications are extremely valuable and will help your IT career going forward. But don’t get crazy with them, you don’t need to get all certifications. Also, if your job requires getting some vendor-specific certifications instead of general ones, get them!
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