How to Climb the IT Career Ladder
In order to gain the most from your career, it is essential to progress in your chosen field. Although a career in IT can seem daunting, the field is not only flourishing but it is also one of the most rewarding to work in.
It is important to remember that technology is constantly changing and advancing, which means that you will need to keep up to date with the latest developments in order to effectively perform your role and progress in your career. There are certain elements to bear in mind when considering how to climb the IT career ladder.
Earn the most sought-after certifications
The ideal starting point for a successful career in IT is to ensure that you have the certifications that employers are looking for in candidates. Although there are many different IT specialisations, there are specific qualifications that carry the most weight in this field and that provide a solid foundation of skills and knowledge.
- CompTIA IT Fundamentals
The CompTIA IT Fundamentals course is the ideal first step for anyone who is new to IT. This course will teach you the basic IT concepts so that you can further your studies with the core understanding required to tackle the next courses.
- CompTIA A+
The CompTIA A+ qualification is widely considered to be the most sought-after entry-level IT certification. This consists of two parts, each with its own exam, which covers a vast array of skills and is seen by many employers as a standard requirement when working in IT.
- CompTIA Network+
In the current era, networking knowledge and skills are essential for anyone looking to launch a career in IT. Typically, many people begin their IT careers in IT Technician roles, and this requires the ability to install and maintain networks. The CompTIA Network+ certification is a globally known and trusted qualification which significantly enhances your capabilities.
- Cisco CCENT
Cisco is internationally recognised as a leader in internet networking and computing, which makes the CCENT certification highly beneficial in setting yourself apart from the competition. Not only will this course teach you the vital elements of networking, it will also ensure that you have a basic understanding of the security measures required for networking. This is particularly useful if you are considering a career in cybersecurity.
- Windows 7
The certification exams associated with the Windows 7 courses have been retired by Microsoft, but this does not reduce the importance of studying these courses. Windows 7 remains one of the most commonly used operating systems in many organisations. This means that it is vital to be able to install, support and maintain this operating system.
- Windows 10
Windows 10 is currently the latest operating system on offer from Microsoft and is consistently increasing in popularity. The MCSA: Windows 10 certification ensures that you are able to install, configure, support and maintain the Windows 10 operating system. As well as covering these fundamentals, these courses will also teach you about networking, security issues, data recovery and authentication. Gaining this qualification will assist in showing that you keep your skills and knowledge current.
Gain practical experience
Earning the required certifications is vital to climbing the IT career ladder, however, it is also crucial to gain practical experience. Having hands-on experience gives you a significant advantage over those candidates who do not. There are numerous ways in which you can add this to your CV, but one of the simplest is Live Labs.
A Live Lab is real-life computer equipment which has been networked together and you are able to access the system over the internet. Generally, this set-up will include a computer, server, switch or router and, after logging into the system remotely, you will be able to work virtually on the system to practise what you have learned in theory. With this option, you do not need to buy expensive equipment and there is no need to worry about causing damage as the system can simply be reset when you are done.
This practical experience will show potential employers that you are able to implement the theory that you have learned. With leading certifications and practical experience, you will increase your chances of earning a higher salary and progressing in your chosen career.
Climb the rungs
- Bottom rung – 1st Line Support – £22,000
It is common for a starting role in IT to be 1st Line Support, which has a typical average salary of £22,000. This is ideal for launching a career in IT as it provides vast amounts of experience and learning opportunities that will prepare you for more advanced roles. It is also a great time to identify and consider various specialisations as you will be exposed to multiple different aspects of IT. Generally, you will be troubleshooting small issues, performing simple setups and installing basic hardware and software. This is also a perfect time to review your career path and earn additional certifications based on what you have learned in the field.
- Middle rung – Systems Administrator – £42,500
When you have progressed enough to advance, you are able to move into a systems administration role, which has a UK average salary of £42,500. As a Systems Administrator you will need to know how to install, configure and manage operating systems from a desktop level, all the way up to a server level. It is often at this stage that a specialisation will be decided upon. During your time in this role you will gain the majority of your IT knowledge and experience, which will assist you in advancing to more technically challenging roles.
- Top rung – IT Director – £95,000
The pinnacle of many IT careers is to become an IT Director, which typically demands an average salary of £95,000. This role entails supervising IT Managers and IT departments, directing networks and programs to increase efficiency, recommending new systems and software, organising and implementing disaster recovery systems and collaborating with information engineers in order to resolve challenges faced by the organisation. IT Directors perform a crucial role which will only increase in desirability as organisations become more reliant on technological advances.
There is significant room for growth and progression in the field of IT. With the desirable certifications on your CV, practical experience and a passion for IT, there is potential for a highly rewarding and satisfying career.