4 Tips for Breaking Into the IT Field in Months, Not Years

True or false: It takes several years to make a career change and get into IT, and you need a degree to do it.

The correct answer is “false.” In fact, new technologist Ian Clark went from food service to IT in just 6 months without a degree. He believes that if he can do it, so can anyone who is coachable, passionate about IT, hungry for a career change and willing to work hard for what they want. This sounds like a simple formula, but it worked for Clark and can work for you, as well.

It takes most IT pros a considerable amount of time to get into IT, but Ian Clark proved that it’s possible to make a career change in just a few short months. He offered the following tips to those who are set on starting a career in IT as quickly as possible.

1. Define Your Why

Clark believes knowing why you are pursuing IT is critical to getting on the fast track to a tech career.

“The first thing I did when I set out on my path from food service to IT was to define why I wanted to get into IT. This helped me see that I was in hot pursuit of an IT career because I was passionate about the industry and wanted to be fulfilled by my job.”

This also helped Clark understand that the reason he was earning CompTIA certifications was to become a competitive job candidate as soon as possible.

Your why might be related to making a certain amount of money, helping businesses solve technical problems that impede their progress or, like Clark, simply doing what you love. Once you get crystal clear about why you’ve decided to make a career change, you’ll likely find that you are more motivated to study for your IT certification exams and set career goals for your future.

2. Avoid Comparisons

Something that held Clark back was comparing himself to others. That’s why he urged future IT pros to put their blinders on.

“You know those blinders horses wear that keep them looking straight ahead at their own path? Those seeking a career in IT have to put imaginary blinders on to avoid comparing themselves to others, which will inevitably make their journey to IT longer,” he said.

He also stressed that potential IT pros should not compare themselves to him. Yes, he went from food service to IT in a matter of months without a degree, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be your story.

“I don’t want anyone to be distracted by what I did, but to be inspired by it,” Clark explained. “Instead of comparing yourself to me or anyone else, strive to understand that you are capable of anything you want to achieve.”

3. Get Certified

Clark attributes a huge aspect of his success in IT to earning various CompTIA certifications early on in the game. Once he started learning more about the IT industry, he realized that IT positions sometimes have hundreds of applicants. He was aware that certifications would make him stand out, which is why he pursued CompTIA A+, and later CompTIA Security+ and CompTIA Network+.

“There are some seasoned IT pros who aren’t certified,” he said. “I realized that in order to compete with them, especially before I earned my bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity engineering, I had to get several respected, professional IT certifications.”

Those interested in making a career change must understand that some employers value certifications over a college degree, so they should make earning IT certifications one of their top priorities.

4. Study Harder Than You Think You Need To

According to Clark, a key to getting into IT in a matter of months is studying harder for your IT certification exams than you think you need to. He found that studying 30 or more hours per week was necessary if he wanted to pass his exams on the first try.

He attributes his earning three CompTIA certifications rapidly to his willingness to study, as well as to his belief that he was capable of reaching his goals.