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Tips on How to Be a Successful IT Professional

A degree may open the door to a variety of opportunities and diverse career paths. The degree programs offered at CTU will not necessarily lead to the featured careers. This collection of articles is intended to help inform and guide you through the process of determining which level of degree and types of certifications align with your desired career path.

In the 21st century, information technology is arguably among the most dynamic and constantly evolving fields in the world. In the United States, where businesses, private citizens, state and local governments, and more are dependent upon IT functions, the work of information technology professionals has become increasingly critical to national security, the economy, and public health and safety.1 While earning an information or computer technology degree could help lay a strong foundation for a career path in the IT field, engaging in certain activities can help IT professionals stay sharp and competitive in the workplace.

When it comes to seeking information technology career advice on how to be a successful IT professional, you’ll often hear the obvious—that it is critical to keep up with current developments in the field—but there is good reason for this. As computing technology continues to change and advance at a rapid pace, IT professionals must continually learn to adapt and utilize their skill sets, past work experiences, and academic knowledge accordingly so that they don’t fall behind—it’s simply not feasible to earn a computer technology degree and rest on your laurels. As just one example, over the next few years, data analytics captured by the Internet of Things (IoT) will require an expanded business architecture that affects networking structures, storage options, data policies, and security decisions—and IT departments will need to adapt to this new architecture by investing in skills training in order to implement successful data-based analytics practice.2

But how can information technology professionals stay abreast of technological and computer information systems advancements? One of the tools at your disposal for keeping up with the latest advancements in IT is social media. Connecting with experts on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn can be an effective way to keep up with what’s trending in the industry. Industry specialists, such as the faculty at Colorado Technical University, are directly accessible by following @ctuniversity on Twitter.

Another way to stay relevant is by obtaining and maintaining information technology certifications. Additionally, subscribing to industry-leading publications and education resources can help you stay “in the know.” And, last but not least, attending trade shows is yet one more way to help IT professionals stay on top of their game.

Information Technology Certifications

By combining hands-on professional experience with knowledge gained from taking information technology certification courses, IT professionals can position themselves to be successful in the field. But which information technology certifications* might you consider pursuing? Some of the more common ones are:

  1. CompTIA A+. The CompTIA A+ certification exam originally launched in 1993 but since 2001 has been revised to stay current with IT trends.3 According to CompTIA, the newest A+ exams cover traditional topics in technical support but with additional emphasis on cybersecurity, the cloud, virtualization, IoT network protocols and connectivity, and scripting.3 In order to become certified, candidates must pass both exams in the CompTIA A+ Core Series.4

  2. Microsoft Certifications. Microsoft offers several types of certifications—Fundamental, Associate, and Expert level certifications—for information technology professionals with different levels of experience. Microsoft Certification consists of a series of exams that must be passed and is job-role specific, with various options for developers, administrators, solutions architects, and functional consultants.5

  3. Cisco Certifications. Cisco offers career certifications at the Entry, Associate, Professional, and Expert levels. CCNA certification, for example, is a foundational certification that enables IT professionals to further develop troubleshooting, configuration, and installation knowledge in a variety of areas such as data management (data center), security, and network management (routing and switching). 6

* Colorado Technical University (CTU) cannot guarantee that graduates of its programs will be eligible to take third-party certification examinations. Certification for taking and passing these exams are controlled by outside entities and are subject to change without notice to CTU.

Information Technology Publications

Information technology professionals interested in the latest industry news or IT career advice can check out online trade publications such as Computerworld or InfoWorld. Computerworld began in the 1960s as a printed publication but is now available only online. It addresses various topics in IT, but with a primary focus on Windows, mobile devices, MS Office and other productivity suites, browsers, and more. InfoWorld’s core focus, meanwhile, is on news in the IT industry, product reviews, and business technology. Both sites offer the option to upgrade, which includes benefits such as information technology career advice and access to original research reports conducted by the parent company.

Scholarly journals are yet another source of information for topics relevant to computer programming and information systems, but unlike trade publications, the content in these journals is based on advanced research (as opposed to the opinions, general information technology tips and news, and reviews often found in trade magazines) and is peer-reviewed.

Attend IT Trade Shows

When it comes to how to become a successful IT professional, you should not discount the benefits of attending trade shows both to see the “latest and greatest” and to potentially expand your professional network. Attending industry-specific trade shows is a great way for IT professionals to learn about what new products and technologies are out there and to get potentially valuable face time with vendors whose services might be relevant to advancing your organization’s needs. You should check with your employer to learn about their reimbursement options for conferences and continuing education. Some conferences also offer reduced rates for students, those working in the technology industry, and members of affiliated professional organizations.

Interested in computer information systems and technology? Learn more about CTU’s degree programs in IT.

1. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), U.S. Department of Homeland Security, “Information Technology Sector,” available at https://www.cisa.gov/information-technology-sector (last visited 4/7/2020).
2. CompTIA, “2020 IT (Information Technology) Industry Trends Analysis,” available at https://www.comptia.org/content/research/it-industry-trends-analysis (last visited 4/7/2020).
3. Debra B. McCraw, CompTIA, “The New CompTIA A+: Your Questions Answered,” available at https://www.comptia.org/blog/the-new-comptia-a-your-questions-answered (last visited 4/7/2020).
4. CompTIA, “A+ Certification,” available at https://www.comptia.org/certifications/a (last visited 4/7/2020).
5. Microsoft, “Microsoft Technical Certifications,” available at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/learning/certification-overview.aspx (last visited 4/7/2020).
6. Cisco, “Certifications: Training and Certifications,” available at https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/training-events/training-certifications/certifications.html#~stickynav=3 (last visited 4/7/2020).

CTU cannot guarantee employment, salary, or career advancement.
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