Guest posting by Julie Morris, life and career coach.
The tech industry is constantly in flux, and professionals who want to stay at the top of their game must always be improving their skills and keeping their eyes on the next big thing. But when you’re hard at work in your career, it’s tough to take time out to ask, “What’s next?” Instead of leaving you to wonder, we’ve done the work for you. These are the five best ways to advance your tech career in 2021, presented by Philantech3 Consulting Group.
1. Switch Companies
Job-hopping is practically expected in the tech sector. When you spend years and years at the same company, hiring managers assume your skills are outdated. Aim to switch companies about every three years. If you’re not changing companies, you should at least be moving up in your current organization.
That doesn’t mean you should change jobs for the sake of changing jobs. When searching for a new gig, seek roles that build on your existing skills and present new opportunities for growth.
2. Start Your Own Tech Business
Not finding the opportunities you want on job boards? Or perhaps you’re intrigued by the idea of working for yourself. Either way, starting your own tech business could be the right way to go. From cybersecurity consultants to mobile app developers, there’s a huge demand for freelance tech professionals.
While freelancing offers flexibility and new challenges, it also adds a lot more to your plate. As a freelancer, you’re your own business, which means you’re in charge of all the accounting, marketing, and client relations. You’ll also need to secure funding to get your new business off the ground. Unless bootstrapping your freelance business with a full-time job, that means applying for small business funding like SBA loans, term loans and business lines of credit.
3. Pursue a Certification
A new certification could be just the thing to take your career — and your salary — to the next level. The leading IT certifications fetch over $125,000 in today’s job market, with certifications in virtualization, cloud computing, and cybersecurity pulling in the highest pay.
For those new to the tech sector, certifications are also a smart way to develop the skills necessary for entry-level IT jobs. CompTIA, Microsoft Certified Professional, and Cisco certifications are recommended for workers looking to enter the IT field.
Alternatively, you can head back to school to earn a bachelor’s degree in something like computer science. Going back to school may seem like a tall order, but thanks to online universities, doing so is much easier than you think. In fact, nearly 70 percent of students who enrolled at WGU finished the program in 23 months.
4. Enroll In a Bootcamp
Of course, with tech giants like Google, Apple, and IBM not requiring a degree to get hired, the prospect of starting an IT career is more appealing than ever. Without a four-year degree standing in the way, workers can start earning an income sooner and avoid taking on debt.
There’s no shortage of bootcamps promising to launch you into a profitable tech career, but not all bootcamps are created equal. Research which IT jobs are in-demand and look for bootcamps that teach the skills you’re after. Just don’t expect a bootcamp to teach you everything: While bootcamps have their place, most beginners need to supplement with self-teaching to be ready for an IT career.
5. Move to a New City
Is your city’s tech sector stagnant? If you’re not finding the opportunities you want where you live, it’s time to consider a relocation. Atlanta and Seattle currently lead the pack in tech sector job growth, but you’ll also find an abundance of tech jobs in places like Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, and St. Louis.
The tech sector is one industry where you can’t afford to rest on your laurels. If you’re not thinking of new ways to grow your career and improve on old technologies, it won’t be long before you discover your skills are out-of-date and your résumé unmarketable. Whether you launch your own business or develop a new skill, what matters is that your career keeps moving forward.
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I have 15+ years in the industry providing sustainable technology solutions for small to medium-sized businesses. I personally thrive on making systems more efficient and I am continually interested in ways to innovate using technology applications. I enjoy working closely with colleagues and clients to collaborate and provide a best fit solution for all IT-related needs.