Last Updated on April 26, 2024

IT is one of the most in-demand fields. High salaries, job portability, and broad career paths make it an attractive field for those just starting their professional careers and those looking to switch careers later in life. With the continually growing reliance on tech systems, cloud infrastructure, and remote work, IT professionals won’t be out of a job any time soon either.

The flexibility and high salaries that come with an IT career don’t come easily, though. While IT professionals are needed across the globe, the job market is competitive, and candidates need the proper education, certifications, and skillset to stand out. That doesn’t mean you need a degree in computer science, though; there are multiple ways to start your IT career.

Do you need a college degree for a career in IT?

The need for a college degree is a common question for people starting their IT careers. Like many tech jobs, most people assume that professionals in that field have a bachelor’s or even master’s degrees, and that’s not always the case.

The short answer is no; you do not need a college degree- associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s – to start a career in IT.

A college degree in any field of study can be beneficial for pursuing an IT career as it teaches new learning styles and problem-solving skills. Some organizations require a 4-year degree to be considered for employment, which is no longer necessary for most IT career paths. Most IT jobs are more concerned with their applicants’ skills, relevant job experience, and personal values.

Can I get my training with free IT courses?

Free online courses and websites like Skillshare, Udemy, Coursera, and even YouTube can provide a wealth of overview knowledge. Unfortunately, while these websites are fantastic at providing basic knowledge on IT subjects, they’re not sufficient for career prep. If you’re serious about starting a career in IT, you’ll need to invest in professional-led training and certification courses.

What certifications do I need to start an IT career?

In the world of IT professionals, certifications are the rungs that help you climb the ladder of career growth. Entering the IT job market with a few of the most relevant certifications can help you stand apart from other applicants and lets employers know that you have the relevant skills and training and that they won’t need to spend any additional money to get you trained early on.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different certifications in the IT world, but there are 5 that can serve as the foundation for most others. These certifications are the most in-demand for entry level IT professionals.


CompTIA provides some of the most popular IT certifications, and many are a prerequisite for employment. These certifications teach the basics of core IT, infrastructure, and cyber security. If you’re new to this field, check out the CompTIA A+ certification. This is a great starting point for your career in IT.

Cisco Certified Technician (CCT)

The Cisco Certified Technician certification gives the essential experience and skills for entry-level networking. This certification shows employers that you can diagnose, repair, restore, and replace Cisco networking components.

CompTIA Network+

CompTIA Network+ teaches the basics of networking concepts and is designed to help entry-level IT professionals solve problems with wired and wireless networks.

AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner

The Amazon AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification teaches entry-level skills for the AWS Cloud platform like architecture, load balancing, troubleshooting, and migration.

Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)

The CCNA certification covers a wide range of IT and software fundamentals for entry-level roles in network engineering, administration, help desk, and support.

How to get your first IT role

Whether switching careers entirely or just graduating with your computer science degree, you will likely start in an entry-level position. Certifications may be a requirement for the role, but certifications do not equate to real-world job experience. Talking with recruiters can be a helpful way to understand what employers are truly looking for in their entry-level team members, and they may even be able to with job placement.

Ready to launch your IT career?

If you’re ready to kick your IT career off, ONLC Training Centers is your career education and advancement partner. With hundreds of training centers nationwide, online options, and expert instructors, ONLC can help you build your career from pre-hire through retirement.

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