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Information Technology (IT) is a dynamic, ever-changing field that has been growing rapidly for the past three decades and is shaping the future of our world. Where can you fit into this vast landscape of occupations? Almost anywhere!
Starting Up the Career Ladder
After your initial schooling and training in entry-level positions such as help desk technician, hardware technician, etc., you can start up the career ladder to become a:
Computer Hardware Designer
Software Production Manager
Computer Systems Analyst
Chief Information Officer
...and many more!
Keep in mind that you probably will not get everything you seek in an entry-level position. However, an entry-level job will allow you to gain experience to send you in the right direction and help you climb the ladder to future success. You should always focus on the idea that you are not just looking for a job; you are really building a career. In chapter 2, we will discuss the various career options that exist in the IT field.
For example, entry-level or junior programmers may work alone on simple assignments after some initial instruction, or they may work on a team with more experienced programmers. Either way, beginning programmers generally must work under close supervision. They usually start working with an experienced programmer, updating existing code, generating lines of one position of a larger program, or writing relatively simple programs. They then advance to more difficult programming and may become project supervisors, or move into higher management positions within the organization. Many programmers who work closely with systems analysts advance to systems analyst positions. For skilled workers who keep up to date with the latest technology, the prospects for advancement are good. An example of a typical career ladder or career path is illustrated in more detail in chapter 6.
But before we can determine whether a career in information technology is right for you, we need to assess your own interests, skills, values, and personality.
Self-Assessment: Part 1
Let's start with helping you determine whether your personality is a good match for the IT profession. Think carefully about each personality trait and check off the number that best describes you. A "4" will mean "This is me," and a "1" will mean "I am not at all like this." Remember, you cannot fail this test unless you lie and then you are only fooling yourself.
3. Attentive to detail
4. Calm and collected
8. Friendly and cheerful
9. Hard working
Self-Assessment: Part 2
Now for the really important test: Aptitude. Which skills are my strong points, and which are not so strong? Use the same scoring system as the Personality assessment.
1. Ability to work independently
2. Ability to work on a team
3. Absorb technical data
6. Following instructions
7. Good at math
8. Grasp new concepts
9. Learn by listening
10. Learn by observing
11. Learn by observing
12. Organizing tasks
13. Research information
Looking over your results will give you a good indication of your likelihood for success in IT. Your scores for these particular traits and skills should be mostly 3's and 4's. As a rule, if your scores add up to at least 36 or more on the Personality assessment and at least 30 on the Aptitude assessment, there is a good chance you have what it takes to thrive in the IT industry. If your scores are much lower, you may want to consider a different profession or learn how to improve the skills or personality traits in which you scored a little low.
Self-Assessment: Part 3
Now that you know you are well suited for IT, here are a few more points to consider as you plan your career path.
1. Where do I want to be in five years? In ten years? (e.g., President of my own company? A senior executive in a large corporation? A high-paid analyst, programmer, technician, or operator?)
2. What are my likes and dislikes?
3. What type of working environment am I looking for? (e.g., Do I prefer working mostly with machines and tools, with data and information, or with other people? Do I like being in a fast-paced environment, or do I prefer quiet surroundings?)
4. How much education do I want? Do I want a traditional, classroom-based education, or is distance learning a better option for me?
5. Can I afford the costs of a degree? Is financial aid available?
The answer to these questions, all of which are addressed in the forthcoming chapters, will help you determine what is important to you in a job and allow you to choose the right career path for you.
Where Can I Learn More?
These resources offer more insights into skills and work preferences:
What Color Is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters & Career-Changers, 2002, by Richard Nelson Bolles (Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA, 2001, $16.95). Updated annually, it's one of the best career-planning and self-assessment books. The job search and career-building techniques will serve you at any stage of your life.
Whistle While You Work: Heeding Your Life's Calling, by Richard J. Leider and David A. Shapiro (Berrett-Koehler, San Francisco, CA, 2001, $15.95). Helps you identify work to match your gifts, aptitudes, passions, and values. Shows how to find a job that suits you. The book features case studies and worksheets.
www.careerexplorer.net features skill and aptitude inventories. The site also posts articles written by experts on discovering your skills and work preferences.
www.UniversityOfLife.com links you to personality profiles and skills inventories. Some of the tests are fun, while others are serious.
Some Success Stories
In the preparation of this book, we interviewed many people who successfully entered the IT field, and we have selected some examples to show real world experiences. These personal profiles are featured throughout this book. As these brief profiles indicate, the backgrounds, education, and training vary, as do the pathways for entering the IT job market.
Let's assume you have the qualities to excel in one or more of the careers that are open to you in the IT field. You'll also want to know about:
Daily tasks. What are they?
Salaries. How much? How little?
Lifestyle. Will you work in a city or a rural area? Must you be prepared to travel?
Personal satisfaction. If you want more from your work than a paycheck, will these careers provide those opportunities?
This little book takes you on a long journey in a short amount of time. It helps you explore the many rewarding careers available in IT. It alerts you to what you can expect from the career you target. It even tells you precisely how to obtain up-to-the-minute financial aid information for your education. Basically, this book paints the big picture and presents you with a magnifying glass!
The next move is yours. If you want a career in IT and all that goes with it, you've got the blueprint to use to make it happen. You're holding it in your hands.
The author, editors, and publisher take this opportunity to extend best wishes to you for your career success.
Copyright © 2002 by Kaplan Publishing