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Should I Earn a Certification?

Other Ways to Advance Your Career

 

If the timing's not right for certification, there are many other ways to advance your IT career.Most IT professionals take more than one approach to realizing career goals. It’s helpful to discover your talent and ascertain whether your strengths are in the technical sphere or in management. Once you achieve clarity on this, charting your path becomes easier.

 

If certification is not right for you, then one of these other options may be:

 

Education

 

A degree in computer science imparts knowledge of computer science, discrete mathematics, and the use of algorithms to program computers. A degree in information technology educates students in the installation, management, and maintenance of systems, as well as the design and operation of networks and databases.

 

CS graduates normally work as software developers, engineers, and web programmers. A CS degree program teaches, however, often teaches just one or two programming languages. To be able to code, developers must learn a number of relevant programming languages on their own, such as C++, Python, CSS, PHP and Java, to name a few.

 

IT graduates usually find work in systems and database administration, information security, network design, and systems support.

 

Project experience

 

Work on an open source project. If you have little or no experience, opt for projects that need people to work on relatively simple problems. This is a great way to develop coding skills and prove to prospective employers that you not only know how to code, but are enthusiastic about it. You’ll also develop contacts with others in the profession.

 

Employers want proof of practical skills, and performance on OS projects demonstrates actual coding ability.

 

Online presence

 

Blogging, reading articles, answering questions, and participating in discussions on StackOverflow, GitHub, and other programmer communities can be a big help. You will not only learn outside the workplace, but may build valuable connections with other like-minded professionals.

 

Participate in hackathons. Start-ups and smaller companies tend to value performance on hackathons, as well as contributions to open-source projects, because these illustrate hands-on experience in developing real-world solutions.

 

Staying current

 

The company you work for may not have the latest technologies, but you need to keep in touch with recent developments and trends in information technology. It’s your responsibility to keep yourself well-informed about the latest technologies, software and operating systems.

 

Attending conferences supported by associations such as AFCOM as well as those organized by vendors help IT professionals keep in touch with current developments and information security threats.

 

Finding a mentor

 

Some experienced and talented professionals are happy to help novices develop their skills. Working with a knowledgeable mentor is an excellent way to learn on the job. A mentor can also help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, enabling you to decide which track is most suitable.

 

Networking

 

While individual performance is key, being known for your expertise, professionalism, integrity and team spirit is also necessary to get ahead in this extremely competitive profession. The more people in the industry who know what you’re capable of, the better your chances of success. Connect with those who are in a position to help you move ahead.

 

Get Started Today

 

In the IT industry, it is experience that is most important. A prospective employer will want to see how you’ve performed on projects. Experience together with certification, however, can open up more opportunities, particularly in U.S. government departments and agencies, and within the ranks of large organizations.

 

No matter how you go about advancing your tech career, remember the importance of developing soft skills, such as communication, presentation and leadership. Increasingly, employers are also emphasizing adaptability, curiosity and business acumen.

 


Reena GhoshABOUT THE AUTHOR

Reena Ghosh is an independent ghostwriter who writes promotional, developmental and explanatory content for individuals and businesses. She came to professional writing with work experience in financial services operations and corporate communication. Reena speaks three languages and hopes to learn Sanskrit.