By Pam Dimmick
With the economy in the slumps, massive layoffs and employment jitters running amok, the one silver lining is that the IT industry continues to grow. In fact, according to Robert Half International’s 2009 Hiring Outlook, unemployment in the IT industry remains low compared to other professions due in large part to the proliferation of technological advances, investments in technology and initiatives such as Web 2.0, information sharing and hosted Web applications. Because IT is a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy economy, displaced professionals are now considering career changes.
Robert Half International has identified several areas of IT that are particularly strong: Web developers, programmers/analysts and help desk professionals. Additionally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor consistently ranks computer careers in its projections of the fastest growing occupations from now until 2016.
Let’s take a look at three careers in information technology and how professionals from outside industries can move strategically into new and rewarding careers.
Information security is a fast-growing field. Not only are threats such as computer viruses and spyware running rampant, but entire industries are under a mandate to safeguard the privacy and integrity of their data. The health care industry is a prime example. Workers in the health care industry are familiar with the specifications laid out in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This act’s primary rules, the Privacy Rule and the Security Rule, standardize the protection, privacy and integrity of protected health information.
IT professionals assist health care providers comply with the HIPAA Security Rule, providing the technologies and expertise required for safeguarding patient information. As a former health care professional moving into information security, your existing knowledge of HIPAA transfers nicely into an information security role focused on the HIPAA Security Rule. Coursework focused on cyber security, encryption, malware, perimeter security, securing mobile devices and permissions coupled with a HIPAA Security Specialist certification will give you the technical skills needed while your health care knowledge and experience give you valuable insight and a deeper understanding of what needs to be done.
Do you have a background in marketing or advertising? Are you a graphic artist? While newspapers are going out of business in record numbers, the Internet continues its rapid growth, fueling the demand for Web developers. Not only do Web developers need specific technical skills, they also need to understand consumer behaviors and have a flair for design. After all, what good is a technically sound website that doesn’t inspire the customer to take action or buy a product? What good is a website with all the right words but lacks user-friendly controls? Transfer your marketing or design skills to the Web development field and get involved in the new media.
Help desk professionals provide support to retail customers and internal end-users. In addition to understanding operating systems and desktop applications, customer service skills are a huge plus.
Transfer your customer service and telephone skills to a better paying, more stable career by becoming a help desk professional. This entry-level IT career often begins with either an associate degree or through obtaining relevant professional certifications such as the CompTIA A+ certification.
These are just a few examples of IT careers requiring both technical skills as well as skills found elsewhere. By evaluating your current skill set and mapping your skills to hot IT careers , you’ll already have half of what you need to succeed. After earning your IT certification or online degree, make sure to highlight your related skills and experience, thus setting yourself apart from the other job applicants.