Switch Your Specialty: Alternative Career Options for IT Professionals

Jake Slater’s December 4th blog on CertMag.com discusses the decision making process when considering an IT career change—taking the plunge, if you will. Whether looking into alternative career options for IT professionals or other career paths altogether, I think his criteria is helpful for anyone in need of a change: “If you’ve noticed a decrease in your own job satisfaction, or your career goals seem to be slipping farther and farther out of reach, then you are among the ranks of thousands of others who are recognizing the need for a career transition. 

However, he skirts an issue that applies specifically to the IT sector. Namely, “I’ve invested (a lot) in achieving and maintaining certifications to build a career path that I’m no longer excited about.” Because, let’s face it, IT plays with live ammo and developments happen quickly and constantly. So much has changed in the last 12-24 months that a career plan that is old enough to drive may no longer be what you want. So, what do you do?

1. Investigate your area of interest to see if you’re really interested or it’s “just a crush."
2. If you can, talk to some people who practice that discipline to find out what it’s really like.
3. If the discipline is used in your company, see if you can get some time with a manager for an informational interview.
4. As always, check the job boards, blogs and professional networking to find out what the market is saying. 

If it’s not a “crush”, you need to figure out how to get there. This may mean switching certification tracks, but it does not mean starting over from scratch. The first thing is to actually make the decision to change. Procrastination is the forbearer of inertia. Keep in mind that your job experience can work in your favor. Even if it isn’t direct experience, you’re not brand new to the industry and that matters. The second thing is to carefully review your experience and certification history and look for commonalities with the IT specialty you want to enter. Education is never a closed path and switching tracks may be easier than you think. CompTIA’s career roadmap is a great place to start. See what you have that will assist you in your transition; discover your starting line. Then take a class or two and see if you still want to switch. Certification may not be your goal, but if you decide the new path is for you, earning those certifications will show your current—or future—employer that you’re open to new experiences and committed to learn and achieve.

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