Molly details what steps to take to move into IT, how long a career change will take, and how much you can expect to earn. 5-11-01 Career change expectations Molly details what steps to take to move into IT, how long a career change will take, and how much you can expect to earn.
Dear Molly: I am a health professional looking for a career change. I have the desire and aptitude for a computer career, and am considering obtaining an AAS degree in computer information systems at my local community college. Would an associate’s degree, some certifications and work experience help me in a networking career? How far could I go, and what is the salary range for this position in the northeast region of the United States?
Molly says: Put work experience at the top of your list and find a job–even if it’s a volunteer position–in the computer field while you are getting your education. With the plan you have outlined, you should be able to find a job once you have some experience. You may have to take a serious pay cut if you have been in the health care profession for more than a few years; you may be earning somewhere between $20,000 to $30,000 for the first few years in IT as you gain experience.
Put the certifications off until you have been working at least six months in a paid or volunteer position. Doing this allows you to put all your energies into your college work and your job. It also allows you to make sure you really do like working in the computer field before you spend lots of money on a certification.
As to how far you could go, you could go right up the management level to CIO or senior IT manager if that’s your interest. If not, you would stay on a technical track and rise up to senior technical levels. To do either track, you would have to get more education–such as finishing a four-year degree–and more certifications. Plus you would need a 10 or more years of experience.
In the next five years, though, you could expect to start at the range I mentioned above and within five years move into a network technician or network administrator position. I have heard of people in the Northeast earning as much as $65,000 for such jobs. However, I think somewhere between $35,000 and $50,000 is a more realistic figure.
Molly Joss also writes the monthly Career Advisor column for ComputerUser magazine. Ask a career-related question at [email protected]