12 Ways to Turn Your IT Skills into a Career
It goes without saying that technology has become an integral part of our daily lives. And it’s not only consumers who rely on it to work, play, socialize and make life easier. Businesses of all sizes are also investing heavily in incorporating IT solutions into just about every operation, from accounting to marketing to communication and everything in between. Companies are investing more in digital marketing solutions; cloud computing is exploding in popularity and information security threats are looming around every corner. This has naturally resulted in a growing demand for skilled IT professionals across a number of industries. In accordance with this, anyone looking to enter this career path can expect high salaries, satisfying benefits and plenty of room for growth and advancement. It’s also likely that you’ll be able to work remotely, making for a great work-life balance. With this in mind, here’s a look at 12 ways that you can turn your IT skills into a lucrative career.
Technical Support Specialist
Working for either a corporation or individual clients, technical support specialists use their IT expertise to troubleshoot and solve problems. You’ll need to be able to draw on your knowledge of hardware, software, computer systems and company-specific products to find effective solutions. The average salary for this career is £27,159 per year. (Editors note: This is $32,938 in US currency. The conversion from pounds to dollars will be indicated in parentheses throughout this article)
Your career as a system administrator will involve the maintenance and support of a business’s infrastructure. Having strong communication skills will give you a major advantage, as this job often involves translating technical information to other users. Common programming languages include Python, SQL, Ruby and Java.
According to IT Jobs Watch, the median annual salary for system administrators in the UK is £42,500 ($51,550). Popular business applications for this career include the use of NetSuite, Oracle Payables, Dynamics CRM and Teamcenter. If your interests lie more in cloud services, you can expect to use Amazon AWS, Office 365, SaaS and Microsoft Azure.
Having the right certifications is key to landing a job as a system administrator. If you don’t want to be committed to any one vendor, CompTIA’s Network+ certification is a respected vendor-neutral certification. Taking a network+ certification course can give you a head-start.
Start an IT How-to Blog
A good way to make use of your IT knowledge and skills in your spare time would be to create your own blog in the IT niche. This can feature helpful guides that show users how to troubleshoot issues or develop their own software. You can earn money from this through affiliate marketing or ad placements.
User Interface Designer
If you have an eye for good design, why not combine your IT expertise to enter this lucrative career path? Typically, UI designers work in a development team to create and refine the user interface side of software. Aside from creativity, you’ll need to have technical knowledge of programming languages related to design.
According to Glassdoor, user interface designers make an average of £40,107 ($48,648) per year, while some make over £57,000 ($69,138) on the higher end. User interface designers usually require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in software programming or an information technology-related field.
Freelance Web Developer
IT professionals who prefer the flexibility of a freelance position can become a web developer. Through websites such as Fiverr, Upwork and Freelancer, you can find clients and offer your services. This, of course, allows you to move at your own pace and increase your asking price as the quality of your work improves.
Computer Systems Analyst
A computer systems analyst career is best suited for skilled IT professionals who also have business expertise. This job involves evaluating a business’s network or computer system to recommend strategies that will reduce expenses, increase productivity or achieve similar objectives.
Your job will also likely entail developing custom software and system updates. But if you don’t have programming knowledge, you can still work with the software development team to oversee operations. According to CW Jobs, computer systems analysts can make up to £82,000 ($99,450) per year on the higher end.
Mobile App Developer
The mobile app market is growing at lightning pace, and many businesses are seeking the help of developers to create their own Android and iOS applications. This career will naturally require a strong understanding of mobile app programming languages. According to Payscale, mobile app developers make between £21,000 ($25,475) and £59,000 ($71,572)per year.
Network Security Engineer
As mentioned earlier, security is becoming a major concern for businesses in the UK. This is why some of the top network security engineers make upwards of £77,500 ($94,015)per year. You will need a strong understanding of how to oversee, configure, implement, manage and maintain network security software and hardware.
You will also use your knowledge of IT infrastructure, programming languages and network technology to troubleshoot issues and conduct risk assessments. Penetration testing is another common responsibility of network security engineers.
As the job title suggests, a solutions architect uses critical thinking and technological expertise to assess a company’s goals and put together a plan that will help them reach those goals. Communication skills will get you far as a solutions architect, as your job will often require you to collaborate with numerous departments to determine solutions.
Site Reliability Engineer
Are you tired of browsing websites that take forever to load or are terribly designed? Then the job of a site reliability engineer is right up your alley. This career involves ensuring that a company’s website is working in peak condition by performing maintenance, updating and optimization and troubleshooting procedures.
Data architects work with a company’s database and systems to ensure that they are optimized and accessible. Aside from administration work, data architects will also need to use their technical knowledge and analytical skills to find methods that can be used to increase the efficiency of a database. You will typically work with a team.
If your IT skills are more on the hardware side, then being a hardware engineer may be worth consideration. In this career, you’ll make use of your computer engineering skills to either create products to sell commercially or to use within a company.
This is a great IT career for those who enjoy a social work life, as hardware engineers typically work in teams or with professionals to design and build new hardware, or to improve existing hardware. Employers usually ask for a bachelor’s degree in computer or electrical engineering. According to Reed, you can make between £50,000 ($60,668) and £55,000 ($66,734) per year.
As you may have noticed, there are many directions that you can take as someone with skills in information technology. In order to decide which career path is best for you, take a look at your current technical knowledge and consider the jobs that are best suited to that expertise.
Regardless of where you end up going, you can expect to make a great salary and play an integral role in advancing the technological infrastructure of the economy. If you don’t feel ready to take on a full-time career just yet, consider starting with some freelance work or developing your own website.