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How To REALLY Start A Career In IT (No College Needed)

Updated on August 11, 2016

College Is Great, Knowledge And Experience Is Better

Want to hop into the IT field but unsure how? Are you seeing a lot of 'Four year degree REQUIRED' on job listings? Fret no more. Most job listing state "or 2+ year experience" and what that is really saying to you is that you don't need a degree but you need knowledge. How do we get experience? Well it takes time and a lot of reading, training, and practicing in real life. I am going to encourage you to do things that are going to be challenging. We will do things that seem crazy, like download malware and proxy/key loggers on purpose. Why? Because being an IT expert isn't as easy as 'restoring points, and reformat" as some people suggest. You need to be ready for it all. You don't have a degree but what you will have is know how. I will constantly be adding content to this article so check back often. I will even have my own 'how to' videos posted on YouTube for us. Here comes the boring part folks. If we are going to become an IT expert we need to cover a few things first and some of them seem like common sense but they need to understood fully.

Information System

What is an IS(information system)? Why do I need to know what an IS is? These are the questions you should be asking right now. Let us answer the first question:

Information System Definition-

1) IS (information system) is the collection of technical and human resources that provide the storage, computing, distribution, and communication for the information required by all or some part of an enterprise. A special form of IS is a management information system (MIS), which provides information for managing an enterprise.

2) IS (information services) is a common name for an organization within an enterprise that is responsible for its data processing and information system or systems.

Okay , truth be told, there are plenty of IT workers who have no idea what an IS really is and only a general idea of how they fit into it. That's pretty bad if you are aiming for a job and the question comes up. I'll make it more simple for you guys. In an IS you have many layers which descend down like a pyramid. Depending on the company and layers, the pyramid can look very different. Executives will always be at the top and generally, IT and Programmer managers will be bellow them. That is where you, as an IT expert , come in. You are the middle of the pack in this system. You provide troubleshooting solutions for company and clients alike. You communicate with all levels of the pyramid even if you have nothing to do with the programming and business aspects of your company. Clarifying what we have covered so far, an IS system is a system in place to advance the technological capabilities of your company. Your position is to provide support and ideas that provide quality and innovation. So when you are asked in an interview about what you think your objective would be in their IS the answer is simple. "I am here to provide ideas, support and knowledge as well as excellent customer service, troubleshooting and professional communication. I will work hard with all levels of our company to ensure the greatest level of quality and understanding can be achieved". Remember that answer because those books with pre-written questions and answers aren't going to tell you that. Other members of the IT community probably won't tell you that either. Yet, as a person with no degree, this answer will stand out as strong and insightful.

Hardware

IT Professionals Handle Hardware

There was a day when computer repairmen were employed by companies to handle all hardware issues inside of an IS infrastructure. Those days have passed. I will post some videos on basic hardware components but you need to also work with hardware. Take out 100 bucks and get on Craigslist, Ebay, or hit a local garage sale. Buy a computer you can work on, it should be in working condition. Let us not focus on the OS(operating system) as for right now it is not important. We want something that is as least a Pentium 3 or an early stage AMD equivalent. You need to take time to identify different components inside of your computer. You need to understand the different issues that can occur with hardware. Issues such as chip creep(the act of a chip unseating itself over time or while being moved). This will allow you to do some quick trouble shooting steps before hand. You need to take notice to how the wire harness is connected to the motherboard. We will learn about pins and SATA cables and how data is transferred from one device to the next. Take time to study your computer and look up new computers. Take notice of the socket requirements of your CPU and it's estimate wattage usage and how that effects what motherboards you can use. These are important things to considering when working on a computer or building a new one. I suggest getting a voltmeter for around 40 bucks from Walmart. Make sure you are grounded when working on your computer as static electricity can hurt your computer. Look up ways to stay grounded and proper ways to handle hardware parts. It is important to take note of the power supply and never open it. If you suspect the power supply ever goes bad, simply buy a new unit and install it. Your voltmeter should be able to indicate issues with the power supply. Try to understand how much power each device should be getting so you have a general idea ahead of time. Most power source cables are labeled with the wattage ahead of time or you can find it on the side of the power supply. Make sure 3.3V is giving out between 3.1-3.5V, any higher or lower could indicate an issue. Checking fans is important as well. Cooling is a major contributor to the longevity of your device. Think about using can air to clean the inside of a computer of dust and other things. Take out one of your RAM chips and restart the machine. Explore using device manager and system features to determine that the machine is missing a RAM chip. A simple issue with a single RAM chip can stop your computer from booting properly and cause issues while running. Keep these areas in mind as issues such as drivers will be indicated in the device manager. Look up BIOS settings and how to boot into safe mode or safe mode with networking on a computer. Explore common programs that can be used to troubleshoot issues with a computer, such as checking the speed, checking for adware and malware, checking for viruses, learning how to follow paths, bench marking a machine, updating drivers, reinstalling hardware, connecting a printer via Bluetooth or wireless. Explore how to add a new computer to a network and how to add file sharing through the network. Explore downloading a program like Teamviewer and working on your other computer remotely. Our objective is to fix issues not to reinstall or roll back our OS unless it's absolutely necessary or the information on the computer isn't important enough to try to salvage. Look at the things to consider when building a computer and watch videos online of people doing so while explaining their logic. Use GOOGLE, I CAN'T SAY THIS ENOUGH! Please use your search engine to explore issues, if you have a virus named 'TDOG' and your virus program can't remove it, don't wipe your computer. Instead, query Google using the keywords 'TDOG virus removal' and look for a technical forum. You can get a lot of answers from Google as people who have ran into these issues prior tend to post about them online. Look into using Command Prompt to do things like: release an IP, check for memory leakage, enter msconfig and change start up programs and boot up settings, run a log, and other various functions of the CMD prompt. As an IT professional you need to know hardware. Look into guides online for A+ certification. Take a pretest before hand and study for A+. You will want this certification to help make up for you not having a degree. Investigate installing an OS from an ISO and from a bootable USB drive. Investigate how to repair an OS installation. These are all basic things we need to know.

Watch This Before Working On Your Computer

Software Trouble Shooting

IT's Roll In Software

Okay so here is where things become less simple. I would suggest looking at job postings online and taking note of the software they require you have knowledge of. Look up that software and download it when possible. For learning purposes, I won't discourage you from using torrents to get this software for free but in the business environment never do so. Get a firm grasp of how software such as: Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Quick-books, Microsoft Windows, MAC, Android, IOS, Microsoft Server, and Linux work. Look up common issues with each one of these types of software. Learn to identify resource issues and requirements for such software.


Database Management

We will need to look up database management and read up on its requirements. We will need to download SQL from Oracle's website and get on YouTube to learn how to work with data inside of a database as well as how to make querying that database more sufficient and faster. This may sound like a programmers job but the reality is that in 2016 this is what employers want from IT specialist as well. We are going to spend time learning how to install software that can use database queries to deliver us charts and information that can be used within the company. We need to understand how well things are selling and how much we need to order in the future. These trends are in our database and as IT specialist we need to be able to extract this data and put it in terms that our CEO and bosses can understand. You need to understand this process well enough to teach it, because you might be required to do so for a while. You need to understand SQL because all databases are built in a similar fashion to SQL. You could download premade databases to import into SQL and I would suggest doing so. Look at how to give administrative privileges as well as edit and read only privileges and understand how this security works. Learn the tables and practice fake calls in your mind. Pretend someone just called asking for data on how many units of this product you have and how many you have sold recently to a certain customer, as well as overall. Use your new found knowledge to obtain table information and turn that query into a chart or graph. Practice makes perfect and we need a lot of practice. Look up basic SQL commands and programming techniques, while you do not need to know how to set up, build, or program a database, knowing how to correct items and add new customers is extremely helpful. After all, most IT professionals these days have enough computer science knowledge in their programs that they have covered these basics. Practice for 30 minutes a day using commands, add features and building charts off your database. Look up common issues with databases and types of databases. You can even order a MYSQL&PHP book and read the entire thing. This would help greatly in preparing you for a rewarding career in IT. We must mix a bit of database fundamentals, database programming, and database management to get our desired outcome and knowledge.


Other Software Issues

You also need to look up common issues with software on windows. You need to know why a computer would blue screen and ways to fix it. How use software to fix issues while in safe mode and how to boot every computer in an office off of one disk. It seems like a lot but these concepts will come with time.


Certificates You Want

  1. MCTS- This is going to require a lot of work but if you get this , I promise you will get hired even over someone with a degree -VERY HARD TO GET
  2. Network+ / A+ - These are two different certificates that will cost you. You are going to spend 300 dollars per just to take the test. Having these greatly increases your odds of getting an IT job making 60k - Hard difficulty to obtain
  3. CISSP - Combined with the others this will really impress employers and prove you have the skills needed to perform your job.-Medium difficulty to obtain
  4. MTA/MCSA/MCSE- These will certify you to use databases on Microsoft OS. The first is entry level and the last is mastery. Having this is also very important and the first one is easy to get after a little reading and practice.- Easy through hard to get




Someone Who Switched Without A Degree

Networking

Networking

Okay so some of you are already wondering why I haven't included CISCO Certification in my certification list. The reason behind this is that Networking is important to IT but a CISCO certification is importing to someone going into networking. This is a guide on how to get into IT and a beginner with no degree is not likely to get into a Networking positions for years after they start. Yet, I do want to encourage people to chase this certification because it is important to your career. With that said let's look at what Networking means to your IT career and why it's important.

Networking Is Communication

Imagine going to a website and entering your information. You are applying for a loan. The computer takes your information and relays it to a database. From there an alert is sent out to customer service and your information is provided to them. Customer service then calls you to discuss the loan. This is an example of how a network works on all levels. You do not have one area of a network but it is broken down into several different areas that respond in different ways. You have local networks that require you to be within the loop to interact and you have other networks which are public and send information to the local networks. The simplest network you can create is a P2P or Peer to Peer type of network. Filezilla is a type of software that uses this type of network to communicate files and data. Dumb terminals is another type of network. These networks do not process information and are common of the types of networks you see at hardware stores. They instead hook into a database and query information that way. A server by itself can also be looked at as a type of network. You could have many different P2P networks and dumb terminals set up but you could link them all to the same printer using a server. All of these components talk to the server even if they don't communicate with each other. Our Local Area Network would allow us to communicate with all devices. This is commonly used when all devices are in the same area and need to communicate with each other. From there you can use domains to set up work groups that allow a person to access certain work groups. This can work by department and separate communication between fiance and lumber for example. Allowing us to have a faster and secured network that performs only within its function. The are many other types of networks out there and many ways to build and configure them. I would suggest taking time to buy a book on networking and study for a CISCO certification test. Also , spend time at home setting up networks and work groups as well as practicing ways to communicate and secure your networks. Take time to watch videos on how to set up and maintain your networks and look at different types of networks commonly used in the industry. Networking pays a lot and the only IT jobs that are better would be those related to software development and security. Getting those jobs is complicated because computer scientist often apply for those positions and given their training they are generally better qualified for those positions than someone in IT.

Please visit this PAGE for basic tutorials on networks as well as terminology and concepts. Follow the tutorial at home and implement these ideas. Remember, practice makes perfect .

Networking Tutorial

Website Development

I added this section to encourage you all to take a look at my website development tutorial. Having knowledge in the area of website development will help you greatly when seeking employment and it will also help you build a portfolio you can show potential employers.

Things You Must Know

10 Things You Have To Learn

Okay so we have covered a lot and you should be diving in deep. The concepts we have covered will take months to learn and I will be posting new videos and content to help you. This is a list of 10 things we absolutely must understand before we even think about joining the IT field.

  1. Ability To Fix Basic Computer Issues- We covered this in the hardware and software sections but take time researching common errors and how to handle them. Remember GOOGLE!
  2. Backing Up- Before you update any system on any software or hardware you should make a backup. I can't tell you how many times things go wrong and that back up saves you. Look up ways to store backup media. Test your back up before hand.
  3. Understand The Limits Of Media- You need to understand the limits and which types of cost effective storage you should use. Buying 1000 CD's is not an effective way to store data even if it would cost less than other methods(which it shouldn't).
  4. Cloud- Look up videos on cloud computing and try signing up for a cloud network. Practicing using the network and guarding you information on it. Look up types of Clouds that businesses use and ways to administrate and protect them.
  5. Understand Energy- You need to invest time looking at the different V and wattage used by devices. Installing a server is not enough, you need to understand how to keep that server cool enough that it doesn't burn up. You should learn to select the right type of cooling for any device.
  6. Understanding The Business- You can sometimes just go buy things but other times it's a lot easier to fiance them over time. You need to understand the cost of things and compare them to your companies profit margins. Knowing this can help you decide between buying something out right, financing it , or never purchasing it at all.
  7. Network Security- You need a strong grasp of basic network security. Keeping information safe is vital to any IS.
  8. Running Wire- You may need to add wiring to your work area. Look at ways to split and run wiring. Practice doing so at home. Make sure the methods you learn are neat and professional.
  9. Learn To Ask Dumb Questions- If you are sure of it on your end, don't bother, but if someone is asking you to do something and you want clarification, ask. An example of this would be someone asking you to set up a new printer in a department that has a printer already. First ask them if they know that department has a printer and then confirm they want it set up despite this fact. Honestly, people don't always know what the hell they are doing.
  10. Learn To Say No- You will be asked to do many things while in the office, you must learn which are more important. You can't just tell someone 'NO' you must explain that you don't have time but it will be handled ASAP. This requires you take note of these issues and push them back to fix at later dates. Just make sure you actually get around to fixing them.

Where To Find Your First Job

Shoot for any job you can find. Look up the requirements and carefully study the software and issues that occur with that software before you apply. The reality is that most of us will be starting at call centers and in help desk. No biggie, you will be making around 20 an hour starting out and after six months you can investigate moving up. After 2 years you will have more than enough experience to get a job making 35+ an hour. You won't be able to start in as high of a position as someone out of college , generally. Yet you will be able to work your way up. Don't take a call /help desk job that pays less than 16.50 an hour. You should never be that desperate. With over 60 thousand help desk professionals sought in this nation, you can find one that pays decent and trains. Consider where you live also, if you live in a low income area that has a low cost of living, considering a job at 15 an hour may not be a bad idea. Your objective is to get in and learn as much as possible while gaining experience. Building knowledge and a portfolio will help and freelance work can also help.

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