Getting started in the field of information technology (IT) without a traditional degree can be a challenging yet rewarding journey, especially considering the current skills shortage in South Africa and the IT industry specifically. This situation presents a unique opportunity for individuals looking to enter the IT sector. The key to succeeding in this field without a degree lies in a combination of self-learning, practical experience, and acquiring industry-recognised certifications.
The IT industry is rapidly evolving, with new technologies emerging at an unprecedented pace. This dynamic environment has led to a significant demand for skilled professionals, yet there’s a noticeable gap in the number of qualified candidates available. This gap is not just a challenge for employers but an open door for South Africans without formal degrees. The industry is increasingly recognising the value of skills and practical experience over traditional academic qualifications.
Getting started with IT certifications
For those starting out, the first step is to identify the area of IT that most interests you. IT is a broad field encompassing areas such as cybersecurity, network administration, software development, and data analysis. Once you’ve pinpointed your area of interest, the next step is to identify the courses and certifications you will need to enter the industry.
The cornerstone of establishing credibility in the IT sector without a degree is through certifications. IT certifications like those offered by CompTIA, Cisco, Microsoft, and AWS, are highly valued in the industry. They provide standardised proof of your skills and knowledge in specific areas. These certifications are often aligned with the specific needs of the industry, ensuring that the skills you learn are current and in demand.
IT certifications can also be a more cost-effective and time-efficient way to gain specialised knowledge compared to traditional degree programs. They allow you to tailor your learning path according to your career goals and the needs of the industry. Additionally, many certification programs offer flexible learning schedules, which is ideal for those who are working or have other commitments.
Building a career
IT certifications are the foundation of an IT career, but there are many other areas that can support career growth. For example, parallel to studying, it’s crucial to get hands-on experience. This can be achieved through various means such as working on personal projects, contributing to open-source projects, or seeking internships or entry-level positions. Real-world experience not only solidifies your learning but also demonstrates your practical skills to potential employers.
Networking is also a powerful tool. Attend industry meetups, conferences, and seminars. Engaging with professionals in the field not only provides insights into the industry but also opens up opportunities for mentorship and potentially, employment. Selecting a vendor-certified training institute ensures you have access to industry experts with deep experience in the sector and can be the foundation for building a network with fellow learners. The more you are exposed to other people within the field, the more you will learn.
Top tips to making the most of your IT career
At Torque IT, we are passionate about supporting IT professionals. South Africa needs more skills in this sector, but delivering vendor-certified courses allows us to also address South Africa’s unemployment crisis as well. It’s a win-win situation. Here are some top tips to making the most of your IT career:
- Start with entry-level certifications and build on them.
- Select a reputable vendor-authorised training provider.
- While technical skills may get your foot in the door, soft skills are what can propel you forward in your career, so build your soft skills, including problem-solving, communication, and teamwork, which are highly valued by employers.
- Find a mentor in the field who can provide guidance, career advice, and insights that are hard to gain from books or courses.
- Network, network, network.
While not having a degree might seem like a significant barrier to entering the IT industry, the current skills shortage and the industry’s evolving attitude towards skills and practical experience offer numerous opportunities. Entering the IT industry without a degree is a viable path, but it requires a commitment to continuous learning, a proactive approach to gaining practical experience, and an investment in obtaining IT certifications.
At Torque IT, we only make use of vendor authorised course material, certified instructors, and lab facilities that exceed the international specifications as mandated by each vendor.