Many of us have at some stage reached a point in our career when we have thought about making a change. Perhaps you feel stuck in a rut, or are gradually starting to think that you made the wrong decision about what you should be doing with your life. Alternatively, it is possible that the job itself has changed, and is no longer as fun or rewarding as it once was. Perhaps you crave new challenges, and feel that in your current role you have learned all that you can and are now just going through the motions.
It is also possible that you are no longer the same person that you were when you began your current career, or other areas of your life are now radically different. It might be impractical to carry on with your present career if it involves a lot of travel, for instance. You might want to spend more time with your family or just improve your work-life balance generally. You might want to pursue your passion, or you might have reached a point where you need to make more money. Whatever your reasons for considering a career change, it is never too late to make that move – and tech might be the ideal sector for you.
The advantages of a career in tech
It can’t have escaped anyone’s notice that information technology (IT) has been the growth sector over the past 20 or so years, and if anything the importance and potential for expansion of IT is only going to get bigger. There is a huge demand for people with a wide range of tech skills, from the general to the extremely specialist. As an IT worker or contractor, you can potentially attract an impressive salary (or job rate), and have an interesting and varied working experience with a lot of potential for learning and tackling new challenges.
Employee or contractor?
As suggested above, there are two main ways of working within the IT sector: either as an employee of a company or as an independent contractor. The advantages of the former route are job security (to a degree), regular working hours and in-work benefits such as holiday and sick pay, company pension, etc.
As a contractor, you will have to find your own work, and you won’t get the above benefits unless you arrange them for yourself. By working through an umbrella company, you can get help with your taxes, process payments and stay compliant with working legislation, and the main advantage is that you can be your own boss, choose when you work, and experience greater variety and flexibility than you would as a full-time employee. Many IT contractors, especially those with in-demand skill sets, can command a higher hourly rate than their in-house counterparts.
In-demand skill sets
By specialising in particular IT areas, you might reduce the range of jobs that you can go for, but you will stand a better chance of being employed within particular fields, and will be able to charge more for your speciality. Those with skills relating to new areas are most in demand, meaning that older, more experienced IT specialists don’t necessarily have an advantage over those moving into the field from a different career. You both have to keep up to date with the latest IT developments.
Currently, artificial intelligence (AI), data science, blockchain technology and machine learning are all areas where technicians with applicable skill sets are in high demand. Data privacy is looking to be a growth area, and there are always going to be openings for those keeping up to date with cybersecurity, malware and cryptology.
The best jobs don’t always go to those with the highest tech skill levels, however. Good business sense and a pro-active outlook are equally valued by employers, and sometimes having the right attitude and a willingness to learn can compensate for a lack of experience. Being able to translate tech issues clearly and concisely to co-workers without tech skills is an invaluable ability.
Making the change
You don’t necessarily have to have years of experience or a university degree to start a new career in tech. Obviously though, you do need to have the skills for the job, so taking some kind of course is advisable. Even if you already have the skills, you will need to update them regularly, and having a qualification as proof of your ability is a boon.
You also need to show that you can apply the skills that you have. Get some relevant voluntary experience; build your own website, or design an app. These things will all stand you in good stead if you decide to make the change and embark on a new career in tech.