If you have amateur tech skills, turn them into a career by matching your know-how with the ideal IT school. Whether you’ve been tinkering with hardware or coding like crazy, there is a program that suits you. Of course, the trouble is figuring out which program that is.
This article should clear things up. Check out the following top 10 self-taught tech skills and look into the ones that apply to you.
1. Hacking/Cracking & Implementing Cybersecurity
Hacking into your friend’s Facebook account is fun, but your talents could be put to better use. Think about cybersecurity. These days, IT hiring firms seek applicants with skills in information security, said Todd Weinman, member of the ISACA’s Credentialing and Career Management Board and owner of The Weinman Group recruiting firm. “There is a tremendous shortage of cybersecurity professionals,” Weinman said. “Because of what’s happening with threats to business, cybersecurity is just incredibly hot.”
Best IT School: Information Security
Explore degree programs in Computer Science, Computer Programming, Information Security, and/or Computer Information Systems. According to Weinman, look for certification potential, especially for the new cybersecurity cert called the Cybersecurity Fundamentals Certificate.
2. Building Tech From Scratch
DIY is your motto. Whether it’s a custom PC or your own new invention, you’re dreaming up devices and turning them into reality. With that aptitude, why not expand your computer engineering skills? Moore knows the power of computers is only doubling every two years, wink wink.
Best IT Schools: Computer Hardware Engineering Programs
Several universities and tech schools offer computer hardware engineering programs. These are often offered alongside computer science degree programs. Put them together for an ideal entryway into tech engineering.
3. Managing the Network
Can you set up your own home network? Are routers, servers, and peripherals easy for you to play with? Plan on becoming captain of the ship, matey, because IT pros who understand how entire networks function can drive an entire IT department.
Best IT Schools: Network Administration
Look at degree programs with the word “network” in their titles (Network Administration, Computer Networking, etc.). Or, consider the avenue of an IT auditor. Weinman said the best way to enter the IT audit space is to combine a good IT program with a good business program, and to get CISA certified. “For an information systems auditor, CISA is a very highly regarded cert,” said Weinman.
4. Repairing Computer Hardware
When the hard drive dies, you can replace it without missing a beat. Basically, you’re Mr. Fix-It for the IT industry and your repair skills can only get more impressive with a little professional training to back them up.
Best IT Schools: IT Technician
Explore technical colleges and for-profit universities that offer Computer Technician training (also called computer hardware repair training), or another type of IT technician training program. Once you have the credentials, you’ll have all the opportunity in the IT technician world.
5. Troubleshooting PCs
You’ve been troubleshooting frozen screens and recovering lost files for so long that you know a good deal more than the everyday Windows or Mac user. Lucky for you, as long as people are using PCs, they’re going to need your help.
Best IT Schools: Desktop Support Technician
With basic troubleshooting skills, your best bet is to attend a technical college or community college with a desktop support technician program. Get trained, get certified, and get to work. Once you enter an IT support role, the IT world opens up.
If you already know which buttons to press to keep yourself in play, learning how to create the playing field should be a cinch. For the video gamers, the mobile app players, and the programming prodigies out there, software development is in your wheelhouse. From coding to package design, every step in the process could use a gamer’s touch.
Best IT Schools: Software Development
Look for Software Development and Software Engineering degree programs. If you’re in the development mix and honing your skills, you’re well on your way to a career in the software industry.
7. Stats Whiz
Statistics, graphs, and other analytical tools just make sense to you. Outside of cyber-security, data analytics is the sector most worthy of any future IT pro’s consideration. “We’re coming into this age of big data,” said Weinman. “Companies accumulate tremendous amounts of data and need people that can manipulate that.”
Best IT Schools: Business Intelligence
Choose a degree program in Business Intelligence, Computer Systems Analysis, Computer Information Systems (CIS), Management Information Systems (MIS), Information Technology, or Computer Science. Whichever you choose, sprinkle in stats classes and you’re golden for a career in BI.
8. Running Cable
Can you terminate an RJ45 connector and fish wire through a wall? You must be good with cable. And you know, people need cable, whether it’s for the Internet, TV shows, or Xboxes. It’s even led to a burgeoning industry surrounding the “Internet of Things.” So get in there, and get your piece of that evergreen cable installation pie.
Best IT Schools: Cable Installation Technician
Search for technical schools and colleges that offer Cable Installation Technician training degrees and certificate programs. As in most electrical and IT professions, certification goes a long way when you’re seeking cable installation roles.
9. Envisioning the Web
Best IT Schools: Technical Web Design
Look at art schools as well as tech schools. Then, narrow your short list down to schools that offer technical web design courses, like ITT Tech’s School of Drafting and Design or Colorado Technical University with its “Bachelor of Science in Information Technology – Web Development” degree program.
10. Talking Tech
You’re addicted to CNET and Mashable. If you enjoy reading the details of emerging tech and consider yourself quite the wordsmith, you can help break down the complexities of technology to others. At tech companies, you could develop instruction manuals, write press releases, and draft technical journal articles.
Best IT Schools: Technical Writing
Explore degree programs in engineering or computer science, as well as formal writing. Some colleges even offer technical writing degrees and/or technical communications certificates.