Posted by: on February 14, 2020 at 12:00 pm

young woman with laptop and books

There are many education paths to a successful IT career.

We recently had an interesting phrase come through our web site search terms: “education for IT career.”

A person’s educational path into IT may vary, depending on where they want to end up. Our own consultants, for example, come from a variety of backgrounds. Some have degrees, while others learned in previous jobs. Some even ran their own IT services business before joining us.

We find that a variety of backgrounds amongst our consultants gives us a broad base for helping our clients. No matter what the issue, probably one of us has seen it – in a textbook or in the field. From this experience, we know that requiring a college-level education of every person here isn’t necessary for a successful team.

Here are some of the successful educational paths to an IT career at TAZ Networks:

High School Career & Technical Education (CTE). What we used to call “vocational school” back in the day has reinvented itself to CTE. At least in here Michigan, local offerings often include IT-related courses. (More about CTE here.)

Certifications. Sometimes included with CTE or Associate’s degree programs, certifications earned independently tell us a lot about a job candidate. Microsoft and CompTIA IT certifications are known markers for a high level of technical knowledge. A person willing to spend their own time to study and test for a certification, often while working and even raising a family, demonstrates the commitment to excellence that we look for in our staff. In fact, we strongly encourage and incentivize our employees to obtain a high-level certification each year.

IT experience. Nothing beats front-line, hands-on experience to teach someone the ins and outs of IT. Our best consultants have more than book knowledge. They’ve “been there, done that” and often develop specialized knowledge that adds valuable to our entire team.

Degree. A computer-related Associate’s degree can be enough to propel you into an entry-level IT position. Bonus if your degree is supplemented with real-world IT experience, via an internship or other related experience.

Customer service experience. A surprising number of our best consultants have retail experience. Whether it’s running registers, pulling ice cream cones, or providing consumer computer services at places like Staples and Best Buy, dealing with a demanding public provides a powerful, real-world education that no amount of theory can surpass.

One Pitfall in IT Education

One pitfall we’ve seen sometimes with our job applicants is an over-emphasis on higher education. While potentially valuable for some career tracks such as high-level computing and programming theory, the slow path is not always the best one for IT. Because technology moves and changes so quickly, things learned in freshman year might be irrelevant or even archaic by the end of a Master’s dissertation. If someone just wants to “work on computers,” we recommend getting as much knowledge and hands-on experience as quickly as possible.

We’ve seen this time and time again with job applicants. For example, we’ve had applicants working to complete Masters’ degrees in computer science, but with zero real-world job experience. No internships, no help desk work, not even a high school job flipping burgers. Sorry, but that’s not what we’re looking for.

In the end, a lot of it breaks down to having the right attitude and a willingness to learn.

Like most businesses, we have a “Careers” page on our web site.Take a look through for the kinds of experience we like to see. Although we aren’t currently actively looking for new consultants, we’ll always look at an interesting resume.

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