Author: Gergana Hristova, Legal expert in Law and Internet Foundation

Nowadays, most of the companies are looking for employees in the field of software engineering and software developing, followed by electronic engineering and mechanical engineering. Furthermore, IT specialists are one of the highest paid professionals in the world. Therefore, it is sensible that a huge number of young people have chosen this career path.

However, it is not difficult to notice that a great number of the top IT specialist are self-taught programmers, university drop-outs or graduates with a completely different degree. Some of them claim that the secret to their success is that they didn’t consider the IT skills they have developed as mundane exercise to pass their university course, but rather as a hobby that they invested in due to their personal interests and curiosity. Therefore, this article aims to give you some advice on how you may give a start to your IT career. Furthermore, it will present you different options according to how you prefer to learn new things – whether you like structured courses, self-education or learning things on the working ground and in everyday situations.

According to the Economic Policy Institute5, 36% of the IT professionals do not have any form of college degree. Furthermore, one of the largest website developers, Stack Overflow, conducted a survey, the outcome of which showed that almost 42% of their employees are self-taught.6 This number even goes to 52% for system administrators. This means that nearly half of these specialists have achieved their position in the company as a result of their self-education. But how did they manage to do that? 70% of the surveyed employees also responded that they spend 2 or more hours per week programming either as a hobby or working on open source software, and 20% of them spend more than 10 hours programming away from work. This indicated that these people have accepted IT not as their job but as something that they enjoy doing it outside of their job, is in the core of their success. Therefore, if you like to succeed in this field, it is important to actually enjoy doing it, not only aim to achieve a particular position in a well-recognised company.

Some may say that the IT sector requires some sort of natural instinct and if you lack it, then there is no way that you can do that as a job or make a career. This may be true to some extent, however, the IT sector constantly changes and this requires from you to be engaged in it to adapt to these changes and evolve with them. Therefore, if you don’t keep up with the innovations and read enough about the new trends, you still won’t be able to do your best in your IT job. This proves that if you want not only to work in this sector, but actually to achieve something, you need to work hard in order to be recognized as a specialist in a particular area of the IT sector.

Another factor that plays quite a major role in this field is that when you are applying for a job, the employer looks at your CV and in case of no previous experience in the IT sector, certificates or degree in IT, it will be considered as a great disadvantage for you and even present you as incompetent for the position applied. Even when a company employs you without a degree, in a great amount of the occasions, the firm will require from you to acquire some form of certificate during the first few months of your work experience in order to show that you in fact have the qualities required for the job.

To sum up, to be good at your IT job, you do not need only some natural instinct for new technologies but also hard work and ambition for achievements and self-improvement. Therefore, this article aims to give you advice on the most convenient ways to give a start to your IT career.

1. University degree in IT / IT Course

This advice may sound trivial, however, it is one of the most convenient ways to receive accurate information in the field. It could be claimed that a lot of these courses are not particularly focused on the practical aspect and they require a great amount of theory learning. Nevertheless, it could not be denied that they provide a great start for a person that has not been strongly involved with technology previous to the course.

A downside to this option is that they are usually quite pricy and on a tight schedule. Of course, some of them could be adapted to the days and hours to fit your schedule. Furthermore, some of them are online and you can do them in your own time. However, it will still require a great amount of effort and hard work to graduate and get the degree or certificate.

The most obvious advantage of this option is that, after graduating, you will receive a document that will come in use when applying for a job. It could not be claimed, that after such a course you will have acquired all the necessary and practical knowledge that you will need for such a job. However, it could not be denied that it will give you a great base for a start that you can upgrade with practical experience.

2. Online tutorials

This option is becoming quite popular due to its numerous advantages and flexibility. Firstly, these tutorials are free, and this makes them quite accessible, especially for people who cannot afford to pay for an expensive university degree or course. Secondly, they do not require you to attend it on a tight schedule as you can do that in a convenient time for you. Furthermore, this type of self-education enables you to choose what type of content you would like to study and make it more practically oriented.

However, the biggest disadvantage to these tutorials is that you do not receive any kind of document or certificate that proves the skills you have thought yourself. This could prevent you from getting a desired job due to the lack of such proof. Of course, some companies may give you a chance to prove your qualities with a practical test and still get the position. However, not many employers have such practice yet as the first thing that they review is your CV. Another issue is that the information that you receive through these tutorials might not be accurate unless you know that the source is trustworthy.

3. Trainee contract in an IT company/ Internship

This option enables you to get a firsthand advice from specialists in the area while being paid for it. Naturally, the payment won’t be very good and may even lack in some companies, but the knowledge that you will receive will be very practice oriented. Furthermore, after acquiring the necessary abilities and proving yourself as a valuable team member, the company may even give you a chance for a promotion. Even if this does not happen, this will still give you a valuable experience that you can use in your advantage when applying for other jobs in the sector. Especially, if the employee provides you with a reference that you can attach to your CV and use it as a proof for your qualification.

The downside to this option is that most of the companies still may want some IT background or education to sign this type of contract with you. But the good thing is that nowadays more and more companies are open minded and willing to accept curious and ambitious people who are hard-working and with desire for self-improvement.




University degree/ IT courses

  • Accurate information
  • Giving chance to ask questions specialist in the field
  • Receiving document/certificate
  • May be pricy
  • Requires a lot of theory learning and some of them are not practically oriented
  • Need to adapt to a schedule

Online tutorials

  • Free
  • Flexibility regarding schedule and content
  • Able to be very practically oriented
  • No document/certificate
  • The information might not be accurate

Trainee contract in an IT company/ Internship

  • Firsthand advice form specialists
  • Might be paid for it
  • Practically oriented knowledge
  • Chance to be promoted in the company
  • Work experience in the field
  • May not be paid or not much
  • May need IT background