The skills you've developed working in IT can pave the way to a career in a non-tech field.
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It isn't unusual for workers in any field to think about making a major change, and IT managers and staffers are no different. Whether the reason is lack of advancement, boredom, a desire for more money, or simply an interest in doing something different, it is natural to wonder about job options in a new field. Here are some ideas on how you can parlay your hard-earned technical skills into a successful new career.
Here are four non-tech professions that promise to capitalize on your IT skills – and rejuvenate your life.
Rigid deadlines, tight budgets, careful planning, painstaking deployments--they're all variables common to careers in both IT and project management. "Certainly people with an IT background have a distinct advantage when going into project management," says Rachel Russell, a director at TEKsystems, a provider of IT staffing systems and IT services. However, there's one important distinction. Unlike IT, a career in project management "can get you out of the mire of being a QA tester or a developer punching in code and instead into seeing a lot of different moving pieces" for far more fast-paced and unpredictable work.
Because every department of almost every company relies on technology in one way or another, most IT professionals enjoy at least a basic understanding of how a business operates and what makes an organization successful. It's precisely this knowledge, Russell says, that can be leveraged to start one's own business, provided you have the right entrepreneurial spirit. "When an IT professional begins his or her career in a company, they learn by doing," says Russell. "They pick up on the business acumen and the nuances of how a business works and what business leaders do." All of which makes for a perfect launching pad for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Becoming a financial or business consultant takes more than simply an MBA. Rather, the job requires bridging the divide between a company's IT folks and disparate business line leaders using strong communication skills. That's good news to IT professionals with a penchant for translating high-tech jargon into simple business concepts. "If you've stayed close to the business during your time as an IT professional, and the company's business leaders think that you get them, they're going to be happy to have someone with your IT skills and acumen act as more of a liaison and help them use technology in a more effective way," says Russell.
Just because you've spent your career coding doesn't mean you lack the swagger required to become a marketing manager. "In marketing, companies are looking for social media experts who understand the technology behind social media and how it works," says Russell. "Companies are also looking for Web search optimization experts who know the technology behind Google, for example."
But before you hand in your resignation letter and begin your search for a non-tech position, consider this: not all IT professionals are cut out for the business world. Consider, for example, the lonesome techie who enjoys writing code in the confines of his cubicle.
"In these cases, we encourage our consultants and technical professionals to embrace the skills" they have, says Russell. "If they're never going to be able to change their communication or interpersonal skills then a position like a project manager or one that's completely non-technical is probably not going to result in a lot of success for them. It's important for IT professionals to inventory their skills first."
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