Cert Week – Getting a Job in IT

This article appeared ion Reddit on 2023-10-8

Posted by  u/JumpyPlatypus2143

I entered the IT field unemployed and with no experience. 2 years later I’m making $85K. Here’s my advice to newcomers.

Hi guys. I wanted to share my experience going from unemployed to making $85K in IT in case it helped anyone.
My background:

I went to college and I studied business. The program at my school was really weak and it was difficult for me to get hired at jobs right out of school.

 I was decent at writing and got hired to write for an online publication but the pay was very low and the job prospects in the field we’re pretty weak.  The online publication was related to technology and it gave me an interest in software cloud computing and other cool things that were happening in the world that I wanted to explore further.

 During the pandemic I had been laid off.  I had been reading about CompTIA and other IT certificates to get into the field and I decided to take the A+.

I spent basically all my free time watching Professor Messer videos and also doing as many technical tasks.

I started off by setting up my emails on my phone or setting up Zoom calls for my family members during Thanksgiving.  I would go to Micro Center and buy computer parts and try to build my own PC and then take it apart so I knew how it all worked.

I would put Windows on a flash drive and learn how to boot up the OS myself.

 I took free online classes on coding that really helped me stand out during my interviews.  I don’t code at all during my job but for whatever reason people seemed impressed when they know that you can code.

These were simple things but I felt much more prepared and technical after doing them.

 After I passed the A+ I started applying to jobs on indeed.  Within a few weeks I landed an interview for a Help Desk position and it was very basic I was able to answer most of the questions as they related to my A+ studies and some had been from the simple technical tasks I was doing.

 I landed a job as a level one technician making $40,000 a year.  The work was hard and low paying but I did have an income and I was grateful for that.  In my free time I tried to learn as much as I could on the job I also started working on the Security Plus certificate after I passed this I was able to start taking on some cybersecurity work at my company and got a slight pay bump to $45,000 a year.

At some point I felt that I learned everything I could at my help desk job and I couldn’t progress any further. I started applying to as many jobs as I could for better paying positions. This job search was much more difficult than the first one it took me almost 6 months.  I finally landed an offer for a junior systems administrator position that paid $85,000 a year.

 I was ecstatic as my goal salary I was shooting for was $65,000. The job that I got was in a major urban center so the salary was very high. The downside is that I have a very long commute almost 3 hours a day.

My advice:
  • Don’t sit around and wait for the perfect job to come to you. If you’re not hearing back from entry level jobs keep applying but also look into other areas. Explore your local tutoring center and see if you can teach kids to code. Check out Geek Squad at best buy or your local PC repair shop. Also look at customer service jobs. Many of the customer service skills you will learn will translate over to your entry-level IT jobs and also your higher level IT jobs were you may be in a lot of meetings with people.

  • Create a list of technical exercises to work on in your free time and take as many free online courses as possible. There are now free online IT certificates from Microsoft and Google you can work on. This will help you build up that sense of familiarity with technology.

  • Reflect on how far you’ve come not how far you have left to go. There are some really technical people at my company and it’s kind of crazy how much they know. When you feel like this just reflect on the progress you’ve made. Just 2 years ago pinging a server was the most advanced IT task I knew how to do. Now I manage and maintain 50 virtual machines on Azure, handle cloud backups on AWS, and have migrated our company to a new cloud based ticketing system.

  • As you get more advanced I advise signing up for a online program like CBT Nuggets because they will give you access to virtual labs to do more complex IT tasks.

  • Set small manageable goals that you can actually achieve. Check out the SMART goal setting framework.

  • Set aside one day a week to just chill. You don’t always want to be learning and hustling to get ahead. Hang out with friends, watch movies, or spend time in nature on this day.

I will be staying around to advise people in r/CompTIAr/ITCareerQuestions, and r/GetAJobInIT so feel free to ask me for advice.


About the Author:

I am a cybersecurity and IT instructor, cybersecurity analyst, pen-tester, trainer, and speaker. I am an owner of the WyzCo Group Inc. In addition to consulting on security products and services, I also conduct security audits, compliance audits, vulnerability assessments and penetration tests. I also teach Cybersecurity Awareness Training classes. I work as an information technology and cybersecurity instructor for several training and certification organizations. I have worked in corporate, military, government, and workforce development training environments I am a frequent speaker at professional conferences such as the Minnesota Bloggers Conference, Secure360 Security Conference in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, the (ISC)2 World Congress 2016, and the ISSA International Conference 2017, and many local community organizations, including Chambers of Commerce, SCORE, and several school districts. I have been blogging on cybersecurity since 2006 at http://wyzguyscybersecurity.com

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