The IT field is highly competitive. Technology is constantly evolving, new cyber-security threats are emerging, and graduates from just a few years ago are already considered outdated. So how does an IT professional stay on top and climb the career ladder?
Continue Your Education
Image via Wikimedia Commons
There’s no question that advancing your IT career requires ongoing education. With the day-to-day changes in the industry, it’s possible to attend school every day for the rest of your life and still not know all there is to know. When you work in a field in constant flux, spending time in the classroom—virtual or live—is well worth it.
MBA programs are plentiful. If you’re not sure how to find out which universities offer a program well-suited to your needs, check out a site such as GetaRealDegree.com to find the best IT programs in online and face-to-face formats across the U.S. Furthering your education helps you stay relevant and on top of the latest changes and technologies in the industry.
Learn Additional Programming Languages
In addition to expanding your education in the upwards direction, it’s also a good idea to go sideways. That means expanding your skill set to learn new programming languages, master hardware, gain proficiency with a new software application or gain development skills.
Join Professional Associations
Joining professional associations gives you credibility and allows you to make valuable connections with employers and industry peers. You never know when it might be time to jump ship from your current company—some ready-made industry contacts means you have one foot in the door with a variety of companies.
Finally, associations often offer opportunities for members to attend conferences or webinars, which are an ideal way to stay on top of the latest happenings in the industry. In some cases, associations and membership groups offer discounts on formal education or certification programs—which typically will compensate for the cost of your membership. There are a number of associations serving IT professionals and ancillary fields:
• Association of Information Technology Professionals
• American Association for Artificial Intelligence
• Association for Information and Image Management International
• American Society for Engineering Education
• American National Standards Institute
Other organizations serve a broader, business or leadership-oriented audience, such as the American Society for Training and Development. Joining these organizations is just as valuable as joining industry-specific associations, because you can develop essential leadership skills and earn certifications that help you advance to management roles within the IT field.
Step Up and Take Responsibility
One of the most sure-fire ways to advance your career is to ask for more responsibility. If you want to move up the ladder within your current organization, you’ll be more visible to your supervisors if you consistently go above and beyond what’s expected. If your department is facing a challenge, volunteer to research the solution and lead the team in implementation.
Staying relevant, stepping outside the box and reaching out to make valuable connections are the keys to advancing your career in the IT field. With constant changes coming down the pipeline, IT professionals must maintain a competitive edge through consistent effort.