Career Planning for IT Professionals

To get the best results from your IT career, you should have a plan for it. Developing a career plan is a great way to get to where you want to go, to enjoy your career and get the most money you can out of it. Read some tips on how to develop a career plan as an IT professional.

There are a few main stages of planning a career:

  • Self assessment
  • Specializing
  • Requirements
  • Action

These steps loosely follow an IT project. You start with your current state, where you are now. Next, you determine where you want to go, how you want to get there, and then take some action to get there. Let’s take a look into these four steps in more detail.

1. Perform a Self Assessment

The first place to start planning your career is to do a little self assessment. This is an analysis of your own skills and experience in the IT industry. What education do you currently have? What experience in the IT industry do you have? These are two of the most common questions that we can ask ourselves when performing a self-assessment.

There are, however, more areas of assessment you can look at.

  • What are your strengths when it comes to the IT industry and the workplace?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What do you like working on?
  • What kind of roles do you think you can do effectively?

Performing a thorough and honest self-assessment of your IT career and any IT skills will help you work out where you currently are and where you can end up with your career.

2. Choose a Specialization

To be an effective IT professional, you need to have a specialization. There aren’t many IT professionals who can excel at many different fields, and if there are, it’s not what they are hired for.

IT professionals are employed and trained in a single field or specialization – such as .NET developers, Windows administrators, network engineers, SQL database administrators. People in each of these roles would ideally be able to do their role very well, but may not be able to perform other roles. It’s important to choose a specialization to get the most out of your IT career and  make it easier to find a job.

Part of career planning is choosing a specialization, which can be done in a few ways:

  • Perhaps you have some education already (a degree or certifications) that are focused on one or a few areas?
  • Do you already know what kind of work in the IT industry that you like doing?
  • Is there someone that you know whose work sounds fascinating to you?
  • Is there a desired position or “end point” to a certain career path you’d like to take?

These questions can help you decide what your specialization should be.

3. Determine the Career Requirements

Another part of your career planning is to determine the requirements to get to where you need to go. Depending on the career, you don’t always jump right into the position straight away – there are some prerequisites that need to be done first.

  • Do you need any certifications or extra education to get a position in your chosen area?
  • How many years of experience do you need?
  • Are there any lead-up positions, or roles that you’re encouraged to do before moving in to this position?
  • What path do other people in this field or position usually take to get there?

4. Take Some Action

Alright, at this point we’ve done most of the work. We know what we want to do, and what the requirements are. Now that we’ve determined that, it’s time to do something about it!

It’s time to take action.

Start by doing something to move you closer to this goal, this ideal career position. Your career planning steps have been performed to allow you to work out what the requirements are, so you should have some idea what the next steps are. It might involve looking into certifications, doing some research on positions, finding a new job, speaking to your manager about new roles, or speaking to other people who have done the role before.

There are many actions you can do, but it’s important to do something to move towards it. As the saying goes, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step“. It might seem like a long time away, or an unattainable goal, but you’ve done your career planning and have identified some actions and now it’s time to move towards it!

Good luck with developing your career plan! What suggestions or questions do you have for career planning for IT professionals?