Why It’s Good To Work In Information Technology

As an information technology professional, I often get asked why I work in IT, or what’s good about working in IT. Sure, I have a passion for computers, but that may only get you so far. Below I’ve listed some of the reasons it’s good to work in IT.

Good Money

One of the best reasons to work in IT, is arguably the money. Information technology is known as a career that pays fairly well, across many areas. Senior developers, architects, project managers, team leaders – all are examples of roles in IT that can pay quite well. Even other areas of IT, depending on employers, demand, and other factors, may offer good salaries as well.

Constant Change

The world of information technology is constantly changing. Whether you’re a developer for a large company or a small company, in a management position, freelancing or anything else, the world of IT is changing all the time. At the time of writing, some of the big things in IT are tablet and mobile computing, cloud computing, and social networking – none of which were as prominent even a few years ago. This all helps to keep the industry exciting.

Controlled Climate

Most IT jobs involve working in an office – which does have advantages. One of those is climate control – whether it’s the middle of summer and scorching hot outside, or cold in winter, if you’re in an office it’s most likely a standard, comfortable temperature.

High Demand

This may be dependent on your location and the economy, but more often than not, IT skills are in high demand. Many companies need IT work done, as it has been proven to add value or save money to them. As a result, there is usually a lot of work needed to be done in the IT world – development, installation, support, management, among others.

Valued Skills

As working in IT requires in most cases some kind of tertiary education, it is seen as a skill that is valued. Performing any kind of work in IT requires a level of skill, which may seem hard or difficult to others who are not sure how it’s done, and therefore appreciated.

Challenging

The life of an IT professional is challenging. Due to the above point of constant change, and also due to expectations of your role and deadlines that have been set, there is a level of challenge to most roles in IT. However, this can be very rewarding! And that’s a reason why the pay is good!

Varied Roles

There are many different roles as an IT professional you could be involved in. You could work as a system administrator, or be involved in security or networking, which is a large field in itself. You could be a software developer, and there are many technologies to specialise in, or to learn. Other roles such as analysis, or management, can be just as varied, which means it’s easier to find a role that suits you.

Help People

Working in IT has the advantage of helping people in one way or another. If you’re in a support role, for example, you help people by fixing their problems or providing solutions for areas of their work. If you’re a developer, you create solutions for their needs. If you’re an analyst, you find out what the customer or user wants and ensure the solution is created in that way. This can bring satisfaction in itself.

Convenience of Location

Related to the point above about working in an office, most office jobs are in a centralised location or central business district. This can be convenient for getting personal things done and for socialising. Banks, post offices, shops, restaurants, bars and cafes are usually common in the locations where offices are, which makes it easier to run errands in your work day, or catch up with friends or family after your working day!

Getting Started In Information Technology Computer Consulting

One of the best things about being in the Information Technology industry is consulting. For purposes of this article I’m using the term consulting in reference to side jobs or moonlighting work. While full time Computer Consultants can also benefit from the tips in this article, I’m really writing at the IT Employee who works a full-time IT job and then takes extra jobs for extra money on the side.

So your working your regular job and you want to earn more working for yourself. Here’s a few ideas to get started. First realize that its now almost impossible to function these days without a computer in your home. In fact many homes now have 2-3 PC’s and eventually they are going to break or will need to be hooked together.

Word of Mouth Is King

To start, get yourself some business cards that explain your services. DO NOT LIST YOUR RATE I made this rookie mistake and was tied to my lowball rate once I was more established. So start by spreading the word at work. Hopefully your employer is tolerant of this. To know the limits simply ask someone in HR if the company has a policy regarding work outside of the job. If not you may be able to post a notice in the lunchroom or company classified ad board. However if this is not an option just spread the word among co-workers you trust. Word of mouth is always the best way to bring in new business. Everyone knows someone with a broken computer and you just need to get people talking. Once you get an opportunity, provide more service than the customer expects. Remember these initial jobs are seeds so even if you don’t make a profit, the goodwill you earn will keep you working down the road.

The golden ring in doing this is to find someone who will recommend you to a small or medium size business that does not have its own IT staff.

Why Businesses? Because its steady work and businesses know that time is money. Businesses tend to pay on-time, they don’t keep junk on their systems, and if a job runs over the amount of time you expect they are generally willing to keep the clock running so long as their systems are fixed. Home clients on the other hand tie the money for the job with the price of the PC. This works against us as PC’s become cheaper. Businesses assign a monetary value to their time and data so these are easier clients to work with. They also view hiring you as just another cost of business and will not hesitate to let any employee call you in after you gain their trust.

Advertising

I’ve tried advertising in newspapers and never found it to pay off. One of the best things I’ve done besides word of mouth is to use my neighborhood. I put a flyer in each newspaper box advertising my services. The target here is the person who works out of a home office. This is another attempt to secure a client whose time is money. From here apply the same principle of outperforming their expectations. Let them know you appreciate referrals and provide them with plenty of extra business cards. I once was hired to separate two businesses during a purchase. While one half was my client I made sure the other business owner knew the level of my service and went out of my way to ensure his systems worked as well or better once I left. Of course I taped my card to each of his servers.

A better way than walking your neighborhood is to obtain a list of the addresses in your neighborhood and visit http://www.usps.com and start a mailing campaign. Select the postcard mailing option and simply upload your flyer, send them your list of addresses and enter your credit card number. I’ve found that I can canvass a 300 house neighborhood for about $40.00 – $50.00 much cheaper and more targeted then my other attempts.

The reason you want to use a postcard is two fold. 1) It’s cheaper 2) Its easy to hang on to. When I used 8 1/2 x 11 paper flyers I only could reach those with an immediate computer problem. Everyone else simply tossed the ad. The idea it to get them to keep your card for later so offer an incentive to this. Give them $10.00 off their first job or offer a free consultation. You want them calling you not the other guy.

Billing

OK here’s my take on billing and getting paid. Judgment is the key. When you bill a business be sure to add to your invoice that payment is due upon receipt. Does this mean you’ll get paid immediately? Nope but if you leave it out businesses will assume a Net 30 approach and pay you 30 days after receipt and that’s no good. So put the payment due upon receipt and see what happens. I give them 30 days anyway before sending a second invoice with a clear notice that this is a PAST DUE invoice. Most times this clears things up. Now I should add that I do have some customers that are inconsistent about how long it takes to get paid but they do pay and furthermore I LIKE working for them. Maybe they are the type that doesn’t watch over my shoulder or gives me the key to the place or lets me take stuff home to work on.

My point is you be the judge where the hassle is worth the delay if this occurs. Most important spell out your terms on the invoice and send reminders every 30 days. Now home users are different, you should expect them to pay on the spot or very soon after. Just as the local PC shop expects them to pay before getting their stuff back you should too. Judgment comes into play here as well. Some will ask you to stop by for one thing and then keep you longer than expected. DO NOT bring a prepared invoice based on what you believe the charge will be. It’s always better to tell them the cost and then e-mail them the invoice after you’ve been paid.

Tax Tips

If your serious about an on-going consulting business take the time to set yourself up properly. This will pay dividends in increased revenue and tax savings. Assign a room in your house as your home office. This will let you deduct any costs related to that office from your earnings as a consultant. There is no law your business has to make a profit so as long as you document the expenses you deduct you can do so even if the expenses exceed your earnings. The benefit here is that you get some tax savings from your regular paycheck from the loss of your business. Hopefully your business gets going and earns a profit but until this is the case you may as well do what you can to save money. A few examples of things you can deduct are the insurance, utilities, and internet costs proportional to the % of square feet your office consumes. I’ve even heard that technically you can deduct dog related expenses if you can prove the dog also guards the home office. I don’t recommend stretching anything however.

Sales Tax

Get yourself established as a business in your state so you can charge sales tax. I know this sounds crazy but if your going to sell your time, why not sell the parts and mark them up 10% so you make more money. I used to require my clients to purchase items and then call me to install them. Now I just make sure I trust they’ll pay and order the items myself. This lets me increase revenue and as long as you keep track of what you charged you simply pay the sales tax at the end of the year, couldn’t be easier.

Hopefully those tips will help you start a small business on the side. From there you can grow or shrink the business as you see fit.

Starting an Information Technology Career Without Spending a Penny

Amongst the most common reasons given as the major hurdle to pursuing a career in Information Technology is the cost of training. Some training packages can cost tens of thousands of dollars and many people are not in a position to invest that sort of money no matter how good the training course and job prospects. Although training can cost as little as tens of dollars for study books, or hundreds of dollars for hours of video this investment can be overwhelming.

But entry into the industry is not impossible if your wallet is light on funds. Consider that the Information Technology industry is a grouping of many fields without regulatory bodies. This wide variety of required skills and abilities gives would be professionals many options. One pathway can lead to another and so a career can be crafted from any number of different starting points.

But it is also true to say that even entry level starting points require specific skills. Acquiring those skills takes more time without proper funding, and in order to reduce that time the following strategies can be adopted:

• Don’t shoot in the dark. Do not try to learn a little about lots of things in the hope that something will work for you to kick off your career.
• Study, learn and understand entry level job descriptions before you decide on a field of choice. This way you will understand what is expected of you in terms of knowledge, and just as importantly, what is not expected. This will save you a lot of time and help you focus on the right material.
• Research jobs. Just like buying a house, you should look over prospective jobs a long time before you are ready to apply. You will begin to notice trends in skills requirements and training.

Once you are clear on an entry pathway for your career it is time to get down to business. Studying and learning your chosen trade. Remember, your skills profile should be clear at this stage and your focus on the one type of job. Developing your skills without money is a tough ask, but it should be a lot easier now that you know exactly what to study. Here are some suggestions on free ways to develop specific fields.

• The Internet – learn the basics and find different examples and points of view for each topic you need to learn.
• Home projects – If your selected field is a Computer Technician you may be able to double your home computer as a guinea pig. Just make sure you know what you are doing first!
• Work experience – by far the best training that you will get without spending money. It’s a great opportunity to learn from current professionals and make some contacts along the way.
• Libraries – great source of information. You may even be able to find a book for each topic you wish to skill up.
• Memberships – joining mailing lists and newsletters related to your field of choice can be a great way to stay up to date.

So how will all these things help you begin your career? Ultimately your tasks will be to convince the employer that you have developed the required skills. By keeping notes of your activities around the development of each skill you will be able to demonstrate competence. But don’t kid yourself, receiving a few emails on a subject and using that as evidence of skills will not cut it. Use many different sources to demonstrate your knowledge. Here is an example of skills development for a computer technician.

1. Studied i386 computer architecture using BookX and BookY.
2. Replaced and upgraded motherboard at home and video card for family member.
3. Downloaded and installed drivers for new motherboard.
4. Assisted local school computer department for 2 weeks. Replaced 25 computers during that time and helped to troubleshoot others.
5. Actively participated in computer hardware mailing group.

As you can see, this training is specific to one field and it produces mounting evidence on the same subject to produce a convincing argument for your talent.