Eyes Up Here! How to Get into IT with an Education Degree
You made it through four years of college, student teaching, passing certification tests and may have even gotten your master's degree, signaling that you are qualified to teach the youth of America. But what happens when you get all the way through and realize that maybe education isn't all that you thought it would be?
Starting over in a new career path can be daunting, no doubt, but a new career in information technology may be what you're looking for.
Teaching is an honorable career, but it's not for everyone. The pay may not be enough for you compared to how much work you put in. And while summers off can be a strong selling point, does it make up for buying your own classroom materials or spending hours each weekend grading? Not to mention the competition for jobs and red tape.
You worked hard to become a teacher – it took a degree and certifications to even get a district to look at your application – and those things all took time to complete. If you're looking for a new teaching job, you usually have to wait until the summer for positions to open up. But what if it's November and you just can't summon the strength to grade one more paper or create one more lesson plan?
Myths About IT: The Truth Comes Out!
Perhaps all you know about IT is what you've seen on TV shows – working in a dark, windowless room away from all people, and staring at lines and lines of binary code. While this paints a funny picture for a television trope, it's surely exaggerated for entertainment purposes!
There are lots of top IT jobs that you may not have thought about! With your education background, you may be a people-person or good at breaking down tasks into small bite-sized (byte-sized?) pieces. This makes you a good fit for a job as a project manager or IT instructor.
Think about your special set of skills as an educator. Many of the skills identified by teachhub.com transfer seamlessly to an information technology career:
- Team Player
After all, not everyone possesses traits like innovation and creativity, and your teaching background may have also helped you learn how to lead while being a team player, setting you apart in the IT job market.
Just about every career needs someone with good communication skills and the ability to problem solve, and in IT, your skills will be put to good use. As an added bonus, very few people in our field eat paste, and I promise there's no recess duty required.
Whether you are changing careers at 30, 40, 50 or somewhere in between, there are advantages to finding the right career for you in technology. When considering what career is right for you, think about what you like about teaching – what got you going in the education direction in the first place? Consider that your first step toward your new job with computers.
I've always liked working with computers and helping people. I wanted to try that and there are more opportunities in my hometown in IT than teaching
Jason McDermottIT Help Desk Operator
Jason McDermott spent 15 years as a foreign language instructor before wanting to change his career path. He had to move home and start over from a comfortable lifestyle. His draw to IT was being able to work with computers and help people, just as he had as a teacher. He also recognized that IT had many more job opportunities than teaching in his hometown. He now works as a help desk operator but is moving into a new position as a service desk analyst.
From the Blackboard to the Motherboard: IT Careers You Could Have
Take a look at two entry-level positions for incoming IT professionals. Both of the positions are expected to grow over the coming years, and the starting salary for both is more than $50,000. Furthermore, according to U.S. News & World Report, IT positions are among the top 26 careers with the most job stability.
||Help Desk Technician
||Computer Support Analyst
||“Normal” work hours
||Generally requires some nights and weekends
||Can leave work at the office
||Can leave work at the office
Possible Career Path
|Help Desk Technician → End User Support Specialist → Network Administrator*
||Computer Support Analyst → Coder → Software Developer*
||College degree not necessary, but certifications are beneficial
||Associates degree or post-secondary classes often required
||12% growth expected
||10% growth expected
- Provides technical assistance to users
- Answers questions
- Runs diagnostic programs
- Gives in-house support of technical issues and computers
- Finds ways to avoid common problems and improve systems
- Evaluates and tests current network systems
Estimated Time to Career Change
Learning How to Make Your New Career Happen
So, how do you make the leap from the classroom to the office? As a teacher, you likely already know part of the answer – you have learn a few new skills!
This doesn't have to mean going back to school for another degree; in fact, for many IT jobs, another bachelor's degree may not even be necessary. But how you do you figure out what it is you'd like to do?
- The first step would be to take our free career quiz to see which IT career best matches your skills and interests. Unlike a spelling test or biology lab, there are no wrong answers here!
- A little research never hurt anyone either. Once you've narrowed down the technology jobs that interest you the most, play around a bit on the internet or talk to someone in the field about their IT job, and pick their brain a bit.
- You can land many entry-level IT jobs with some training and IT certifications, which take a lot less time and money than earning another degree.
IT certifications can be the key to your new IT career, and they offer so many options. Once you have an idea of what you'd like to do, figure out what certifications can get you there. Since you are in the education field, it's probably safe to say that learning something new and taking a test on it doesn't scare you. In fact, learning may be its own reward (so said my 10th grade chemistry teacher), but in this case, it's a bonus on the way to your new career.
There's a lot to be said for experience, too. Think about ways you can take your show on the road, so to speak, whether it's helping a nonprofit hook up their network printer or teaching senior citizens the basics of computer usage. (Grandma wants to be on social media…help her!) Ask your local library if you can host a class for people wanting to learn more about technology on a weekend afternoon. All of this counts as practical experience toward your new career.
Finally, when you're ready to take the next step and apply for your first new job in technology, don't be afraid to list your skills attained through your education background on your resume, and make sure during your interview you hit all of the great benefits your future employer will get when they hire you. You're not just a person with the right certifications – you're a highly trained educator ready for the challenge of a new career.
What's Next (And Will Extra Credit Be Offered)?
Make sure you take our free career quiz to get you off on the right foot. It's the best way to see which career would make the best use of your special teacher skills and talents.