How to Launch a Successful Career in IT

Posted July 08, 2014 by
Monica Wells

Monica Wells

From mobile operation systems and online search engines to financial networks and data repositories, Information Technology has lured its way to become an important part of our daily lives. There’s no denying it – the demand for IT products and services is on the rise, and so is the demand for specialists in the field. The Bureau of labor Statistics predicts, for instance, that the job market for software engineers is by 2018 going to grow by a striking figure of 32%!

It might sound like a piece of cake, but a successful career in IT does not come that easily. Here are some tips for those interested in entering the IT sector.

Choosing an IT Career Path

Not every IT job is bound to result in a successful career. If you’re interested in software programming or engineering, think twice – the Bureau of Labor Statistics claims that part of IT job market will shrink due to offshoring and the fact that writing programs will be made increasingly easier.

Some of the hot areas in the IT job market of the future will be cybersecurity, cloud computing, and app development – especially the Web-based or mobile games and apps. If you have a knack for graphic design and know your way around the mobile programming language HTML5, you can start looking for a career in app development. Web analytics is another field expected to grow as a component of user experience and business analytics – a great choice for those who, apart from computer science, like to dabble into marketing or business.

What about the salaries? In general, IT sector is quite strong – according to the estimates from, Web developers begin with earning $38,800 average per year. After gaining several years of experience, you can count on roughly $94,800 per year as an information technology program manager, or $93,600 per year as a software development manager.

Required Skills

In order to launch your career in IT, you’ll need strong background in programming, preferably achieved within the scope of a formal degree course. Some of the fundamentals are Java, C++ and Microsoft.NET. In order to stay on top of your field, you’ll need to have an open mind and ambition to constantly train yourself and implement novel strategies and solutions in your daily practice.

In this field, curiosity is a character trait that helps to keep up with the constantly evolving technology. Creativity has its fair share of influence as well – it’s crucial in efficient and flexible problem solving. One feature that doesn’t get mentioned very often is collaborative skills – it’s more likely than not you’ll be working in a group of architects, programmers or engineers, so you must be able to communicate you ideas and work well with others on a project.

Jim Schelle, a solution architect for Synchronoss Technologies in Seattle underlines the role of character traits in becoming a demanded specialist in the industry: “You always have a new challenge and you’re always applying a different set of knowledge to solve it,” he says. “It’s constant work to stay on top of it. You don’t get to rest on your laurels in the tech industry.” (Source:


The most typical majors expected from all those who choose a career in IT are Computer Science, Management Information Systems (MIS) or, simply, Information Technology (IT). For some reason, IT and Computer Science degrees tend to get mixed up, while they’re completely different kinds of education.

CS majors are filled with theoretical courses on how computers work – from  algorithms and software design to programming methodologies and artificial intelligence. The major is perfect for math geeks – after all, mathematics is the language of computers. Some CS majors launch successful careers in software development, but most of them enroll in graduate schools and become computer scientists or academic researchers.

IT majors, on the other hand, focus on practice – it’s about learning how various aspects of IT work in practical environments. Theory will be limited – you will explore the intersection hardware, software and operating systems from a problem-solving perspective. Upon graduation, it’s more likely that you’ll get hired by a corporation than continue your academic career. Since the purpose of this article is exploring the IT job market, let’s focus on what kind of IT degrees are out there and which ones are best for various IT career paths.

When it comes to IT majors, you can choose from: Diploma/associate’s degree, Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree or a PhD in IT. The first two are enough for getting started in IT – they’re job-oriented, practical degrees that will prepare you well for the working reality of various technologies. Those with a Bachelor’s degree typically know at least one practical programming language like Java. Master’s degrees are still very practical and perfect for those who’d like to further their careers by acquiring new skills, such as digital media or software engineering. PhD students, on the other hand, are there to conduct research on the various aspects of IT, from cultural to economic.

How to Get Started

IT skills can be deployed in numerous environments, not only commercial ones, although it’s most likely that after getting your degree, you’ll land an entry-level job as a computer programmer or software engineer. Having an extra skill like graphic design can prove very useful in getting noticed by hiring managers. Don’t rely too hard on one skill that’s hot at the moment – for succeeding in the field, you’ll need a broad background of knowledge to help you solve problems and implement new solutions.

The Intermediate Stage

After several years of hard work, you can rise to become a senior level engineer, where you’ll able to solve increasingly complex software problems in more dynamic environments. This won’t necessarily take you a lot of time – talented developers and engineers can advance in the ranks relatively quickly. With several years of experience as a senior developer, you can become a team leader – supervising a team of developers that work on a project.

The Objective

Your objective and the highest position in the IT world is an IT architect – a position that requires a bigger view of the business and it’s future development. You’ll be the one to decide which technologies are best for achieving your goals by mapping them out and testing them against the reality of the business.

Author: Monica Wells of

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