What IT career path is best for you? 3 ways to decide


Vendr | Streamline IT buying
Written by
Vendr Team
Published on
May 21, 2021
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Computing and information technology (IT) is one of the fastest-growing job fields today due to a changing business environment. Some causes to this change are the internet, e-commerce, technology upgrade affordability, and a rise in the need for information security specialists. Likewise, other factors contributing to the shifting job market are:

  • Innovative applications enabling better analytics and business intelligence
  • Cloud computing transforming IT departments’ operations
  • Ubiquitous mobile device-use

In other words, now is an excellent time to begin an IT career.

But the growth of the IT industry—with it providing more professional opportunities—won’t guarantee every job-seeker success. Why not? As more people discover and migrate toward these new jobs, the IT field will become more competitive.

To compete, we recommend starting by first choosing the best IT career path for you.


How to choose an IT career path

Ideally, you would choose the right IT career path depending on your interests and goals. However, you may feel overwhelmed by the many career options.

Because IT jobs are vast and ever-changing in an ever-evolving industry, it’s smart to find a way to narrow down your choices. Therefore, here are some tips to narrow your choices down.

1. Review the main categories.

Assess which best fit your technical skills and personality. These include:

  • Cloud computing technologies
  • Computer networks
  • Hardware, services, and infrastructure
  • Information systems security/ information security
  • IT management and strategy
  • Software development: computer programmers, software engineers
  • Storage and data
  • IT training
  • Web and mobile

2. Choose a specialization.

You might begin training with some fundamental courses, but that’s okay. Reviewing the fundamentals will provide insight into what you like and don’t like as you consider your IT specialty options. Of course, you could remain a generalist instead and begin your career as an entry-level IT professional.

3. Get certified.

Whatever skill level you plan to pursue, certifications will move your career forward as you decide where and when to specialize. Here are the four types of certificates offered by academies:

  • Fundamental: For beginners with little to no IT field experience, focusing on programming languages.
  • Professional: For entry-level and experienced IT professionals growing their abilities.
  • Specialty: For IT professionals specializing in specific IT areas.
  • Mastery: For experienced IT professionals to further expand their knowledge and skills.

IT career paths to consider for seasoned professionals

IT career paths come in all shapes and sizes, metaphorically speaking.

As IT work continues to unfold into new areas, there are many possible career moves for experienced IT pros.

Due to recent global events, the industry is seeing additional change and growth—some even outside the traditional IT department. For example, organizations have adjusted to a remote workforce and higher customer demand for online services, so they’ve moved many resources to the cloud. Shifts like these have opened new IT career paths, too.

IT career paths in the cloud

Today, cloud providers are continually innovating, providing a new challenging career opportunity to interested IT professionals. However, even if you’re already working in this field, your current skills are likely minimal compared to tomorrow’s opportunities, leaving room to grow through the field’s ever-evolving landscape.

If the cloud piques your interest, career options include:

  • AI and machine learning
  • Autonomous systems
  • Cloud-first application development aka platform as a service (PaaS)
  • Cloud engineering
  • Cloud migration
  • Cloud security
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
  • Robotics
  • Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Serverless architectures

Related: Do You Know the 3 Key Differences Between SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS


IT security career paths

IT security is a growing career path, in particular, because of the evolving mobile and cloud landscapes. Because of the increased complexities of these evolving landscapes, cybercriminals have found and taken advantage of new vulnerabilities.

As a result, new IT security jobs have been created to address these new security risks. Here are some IT security paths to consider:

  • Chief information security officer
  • Information security analyst
  • Information security crime investigator/ forensics expert
  • Software security engineer
  • Security architect
  • Penetration tester

Leave your IT role for another

Maybe you’ve got traditional IT skills like DBA, network administration, or systems administration, and you love working in IT, but the demand for your current role is shifting. So, where do you go from there?

With years of experience in one field, IT professionals have gone back to university to finish their degrees in a different IT field. For instance, a career systems administrator with a bachelor’s degree in computer science might get a master’s degree in cybersecurity.

Altogether, IT career shift possibilities for experienced professionals include:

  • AI
  • Computer systems analysts
  • Cybersecurity specialist
  • Data analysts
  • Data scientists
  • ​Database administrator
  • DevOps
  • Help desk and technical support specialist
  • Intelligent automation
  • Network architect
  • Web developers

Non-IT career paths

Suppose you’re “burned out” working in IT. What are your options then? The short answer is you can be an executive in IT departments or other departments on the business side.

Yes, your IT knowledge and experience give you a particular advantage, but it’s even better if you have business and communication skills. Some possible non-IT career paths for you include planning management, project management, and risk management.

Technical vs. management IT career paths

Not sure if a management track is right for you? Maybe you don’t know if you have what it takes to be a good IT manager? In “Technical vs. Management: Which IT Career Track Is Right for You?,” Business News Daily examines topics and questions to help you decide whether you should take a management or technical track.

For instance, do you have “the ability to follow orders from above, and to relay orders downward, managing communications in both directions?” Or “do you enjoy pursuing IT certifications and digging into technology details and problem-solving?” How you respond should help you figure out if you’ve got the “right stuff” for the management track or if the technical path is the way you prefer to go.

How Vendr can help you choose and change IT career paths

We’ve said this before, but it’s worth mentioning again: IT careers are hardly linear. There are many categories and specializations within the field to move into and grow. So if you’re thinking about a new job in IT or a shift into a new IT role, but pressed for time, Vendr can help. It can free up your time to take extra training or further your education by managing your day-to-day responsibilities.


Vendr Team
Vendr's team of SaaS and negotiation experts provide their curated insights into the latest trends in software, tool capabilities, and modern procurement strategies.

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