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.