Someone on Instagram messaged me last night asking how important a specific cert was in regard to getting into IT. They also asked how do I get started, if I had a degree and how I was able to get my first IT job without any certifications, degree or experience. So, today I’m going to talk about getting your start in this awesome and challenging field and how some of you can as well.
Let’s do it.
How Keeto Got Started in IT
After watching that one episode of Oprah where she interviewed the founders of Google, I got inspired to get my start in the tech field. I’d always been interested in technology, as I would take remote controls and computers apart and put them back together again. Dude, I even built my first website using Angel Fire (I wish I still had that site, so flashy)!
I knew I wanted to get into IT, but not exactly to DO when I got there. So, I went on the Internet and searched for entry-level computer jobs. The main titles I saw were Help Desk, Laptop Repair Tech, Call Center Technical Support I. There was one job that did stick out: High Speed Internet Specialist – Tier II.
I applied for it, failed the technical exam. Waited a month to apply again, they got rid of their intense technical exam, and I got an offer. Long story short, I went through a training class that showed us how to troubleshoot basic issues, some advanced issues, customer service etiquette, and how to use and navigate their software in order to help out the customer. Oh, and we had to up-sell customers. That wasn’t fun but I got over it because I enjoyed helping people and hear them get excited that their issue was resolved. I stayed with that job for 2 years before I left.
To add to this, I didn’t have any certifications ( I didn’t get my first certification until 2014 and I started my first tech job in 2005), and didn’t start school until I was at the job for a year.
Do I need A Certification Or A Degree to Get into IT?
Not necessarily. First and foremost, figure out why you want to get into tech. Is it the money? Is it because it looks cool (because it is)? Figure out your why. I got into IT because the curiosity of how things works has always been there. As a kid, I’d watch Revenge of the Nerds and Hackers religiously. Shoot, when I had AOL, my screen name at one point was “Cr45h0v3rr1d3”! And yes, I’d try my best to become a “1337 Hax0r”.
Okay, I’m done.
You don’t necessarily need the degree or certification to start your tech career, but it does help. If you want to start reading over A+ certification material or read about TCP/IP, that helps as well. Self-educating yourself is so important. Again, figure your your why you want to get into this field.
How Do I Get My Start in IT?
After you’ve figured out your why, pull up a job search site, be it Dice.com, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Indeed, or your local government job site. Also, think about some of the big companies in the city you reside in and visit the company career site.
Below are some of the search keywords I used and have seen over the years for entry-level IT positions:
- IT Help Desk Associate
- Technical Support
- IT Service Desk Analyst
- Computer Operator
- PC Technician
After you have pulled up the search results, start reading the job description. If the job description sounds good, move onto the Requirements and please don’t get discouraged if there’s something you cannot meet. Instead, take those requirements, write them down, and see what it takes to obtain that requirement. For example, a position may require the candidate to have their A+ or Network+ certifications. If you don’t know what those are, plug those requirements into Google and research what that is and how to get it.
This goes back to the first question of “Do I need my degree or certification to get started?”. When doing these job searches for your area and a good amount of them are requesting for you to have a certification or a degree and the degree or certification sounds interesting to you, go for it. Get that certification, get the degree. In the meantime, learn the basics of what the job requirements are asking and apply for that job.
Yes, apply for that job.
This could go different ways: The worst-case scenario is you get a flat-out no. However, you could get at least a phone screen to speak with HR and/or the hiring manager and they hear you out. If this happens, you be honest about where you are and where you’re wanting to go. You let the potential employer know that you are currently working on and that you would be willing to do extra training in order to be the best help-desk tech you can be.
When I applied for my first tech job, I failed the interview the first go around because of the tech test. When the company gave me a second shot (sans tech exam), I showed them my best self and kept it honest. I told the hiring manager that although this would be my first technical position, I was eager to learn how to fix the Internet and help the customer. I also mentioned that given my customer service background, I loved helping people and resolve issues. That alone got me my first IT gig.
To get into the IT field, it really is a matter of doing the research. I believe a start in tech support or help desk is a good point of exposure, as it will show you want to do and don’t want to do. From there, specialize. Do you want to become a Systems Administrator? A Database Administrator, A Network Engineer? A Programmer? The tech field is deep and vast so take your time in figuring out where you want to be.