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Veteran technician and project manager, Scott Matteson, shares tips and insights from his 2+ decades in the IT field.

IT Career Tips Advice

Working in the field of Information Technology means more than fixing computers or troubleshooting email issues. Thriving in this career requires you to sort out an intricate tangle of problems, priorities and people on a daily basis. Keeping your technical skills relevant and up-to-date is always a challenge, but one that’s well within reach if you train on the job, enjoy learning new things, and keep your thumb on the pulse of the tech community.

However, it’s harder to figure out how to deal with “back end” tasks like juggling priorities, managing stress and developing positive working relationships with peers, customers and managers. In fact, handling interpersonal relationships can be more challenging (and rewarding) than managing the tech itself – and it’s essential since the technology goes hand in hand with the people who use it.

IT roles are changing; support may be located remotely, systems might be off site, and some jobs will disappear entirely. However, there will always be pain points, pressure and personalities in the field. I've worked in the IT space since 1994, primarily in the realm of support and implementation. Along the way I've made a few observations with accompanying advice which I want to share with you. Many of these apply to my role as the “go-to” guy who can get things running, but I think they are universally relevant to any role where you're seen as a resource or a decision-maker on which other people depend to do their jobs.

So without further ado, here are 20 things I've learned in my 20 years in IT:

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The Internet of Things is one of the most revolutionary technology trends of our lifetime -- and it’s poised to explode. These skill sets will maximize your salary and marketability in the proliferating Internet of Things.

Hot Computer Skills IoT

Simply put, the Internet of Things (IoT) is the merger of the physical world with the digital. In the IoT, everyday objects are embedded with technology – such as Wi-Fi and sensors – to acquire a unique online identity and the ability to interact with their external environment. This infinite network of “smart” devices promises a range of benefits for businesses, individuals and society at large, including reduced waste, increased safety, and improved quality of life.

The vanguard of the IoT revolution is here: Smart objects ranging from fitness wearables and home appliances to connected factories and even whole smart cities are coming online daily, but this is only the beginning. As broadband and hardware costs continue to fall, innovations in mobile and cloud abound, and society continues to embrace an increasingly connected culture, the Internet of Things will explode -- Gartner (conservatively†) predicts 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020, when by IoT product and services will be generating $300+ billion per year.

Big business is all-in: Tech-giants like Cisco, IBM and SAP are launching internal business units and spending billions to grow the infrastructure of the Internet of Things, while major consumer and industrial manufacturers like Ford, General Electric, Bosch and Philips are working overtime to develop the next generation of intelligent devices. And it's a feeding frenzy on IoT startups; myriad VC firms alongside IT trend-setters like Google and Intel are rapidly acquiring promising hardware and software suppliers in the Internet of Things ecosystem.  

As the Internet of Things continues to expand, forward-thinking IT professionals will enjoy a variety of challenging and lucrative job opportunities. These IT skill sets will be especially sought-after in the age of IoT:

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Industry experts break down the most sought-after – and often highest-paying – IT skill sets in 2014 and beyond.

Computer Skills In Demand 2014

If you work in IT long enough, you'll likely hear some version this career advice: "Keep your skills current." True enough, but the wisdom sometimes fails to include the minor details of which skills are worth developing. We're here to help.

Today, you'll find an ever-increasing hiring focus on tech expertise that can positively influence both the top and bottom lines, i.e., revenue growth and profits. "In 2014, hiring managers are prioritizing technology skills that have the most direct impact on business growth," says Shravan Goli, president of Dice.com. "Based on that criteria, skill categories such as big data and cloud computing are garnering some of the highest pay for IT professionals. CEOs understand the immense value of data and scalability and are watching projects related to these areas like hawks."

Here are this year's most marketable IT skill sets:

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Veteran IT security specialist, J. Wolfgang Goerlich, gives advice on breaking into the information security field, in demand skills, emerging industry trends and more.

Information Security Career Advice

You've heard that information security is a hot field -- and it is. But how do you break into the IT security industry if you don't have a ton of experience?

Sometimes, the best way to learn is to talk with someone who's been around the block a few times. We asked J. Wolfgang Goerlich, a 19-year IT and cyber security veteran, for some of the insights and lessons he's learned throughout his career. Goerlich, currently an executive with a security firm in the Detroit, MI area, shared with us a bit about his career path, how he got his first "real" job, some industry trends he sees brewing, and what advice he'd give to the next generation of information security professionals.

Here's what he had to say:

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Posted by on in IT Career News

In addition to education requirements and marketplace demand, salary is a key factor in choosing your ideal IT career. These tech jobs have the greatest earning potential in 2014.

Highest Paying Technology Careers 2014

Finding a job you love that also pays the bills can prove a challenge in today’s economy. Luckily, those of us in the rapidly evolving IT space have a range of challenging and lucrative career paths to choose from. Most of the top paying tech careers for 2014 require years of schooling, but the expense of education will pay dividends upon joining the workforce. Unsurprisingly, many of this year’s top paying positions are in the C-suite – in addition to training, these careers demand an experienced technologist with high business acumen and a proven record of success.

IT staffing firm, Robert Half Technology, recently published its 2014 Salary Guide, featuring salary and employment trends for this year’s hottest job roles. Here we take a deeper look at the top 10 highest paying IT careers for 2014:

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Posted by on in IT Career News

Debunking the well perpetrated myth of the elusive "startup," we show how you can score that dream job at a buzzing new tech venture.

Tech Startup Job Search Tips

There is no denying the fact that up and coming tech companies, a.k.a. startups are all the rage. The massive payout that comes with a well timed exit coupled with the unconstrained atmosphere where anything is possible have served well to reinforce the myth of the next gold rush. The web is crawling with stories of the next 20-something college grad launching a hot new product that takes the world by storm.

As captivating as that notion is, the reality is that most viable startups function much like a large established organization, except that all processes are scaled down. There isn't nearly as much Red Bull fueled all-night coding frenzies as the media would have you believe. The truth is that the vast majority of the proverbial tech founders are well above 20 years of age. A well documented fact often skewed by outsiders is that the average age of founders in new technology ventures is 40 years old. Aside from that, companies initiated by older entrepreneurs statistically end up having a higher success rate, measured by the number of so called exits - acquisitions, mergers and IPOs.

If your goal for the new year is to secure a well paying job, give meaning to your work, take on healthy challenge and responsibility, rapidly prototype solutions that have a real time impact, and reap potential rewards once the company matures, you should think about joining a tech startup. Just make sure you stick around long enough to vest.

Here are some tips to land your dream job at a hot technology startup:

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Alongside marketplace demand, salary is a key factor in deciding which IT certifications to pursue. These ten credentials will maximize your earning potential through 2014.

Top Paying Certifications 2014

In addition to keeping the “lights” on, organizations want an IT workforce that will help cut costs, manage risk and influence smarter business decisions. IT professionals with skills in virtualization, information security, business intelligence, software development and project management are best poised to achieve these goals, so it’s no surprise that credentials in these hot and emerging domains will dominate the top paying IT certifications in 2014.

This post will break down the tech certifications with the highest earning potential, according to the industry-respected 2013 IT Skills & Salary Report by Global Knowledge and Windows IT Pro. To eliminate statistical anomalies, this ranking only includes certificates with 100 or more responses.

Here are the top paying IT certifications for 2014:

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Subject matter experts break down a best-in-class certification track for IT security professionals.

cyber security certification path

As cyber attacks continue to escalate in frequency and sophistication, businesses are making it a top priority to acquire talent who can help protect their digital data and infrastructure. In a high-stakes field where protocols change at the speed of attackers' imagination, only those with the latest and greatest skills will succeed. Certifications are the best way to prove the value and relevance of your cyber-security skill set to prospective employers.

With dozens of globally-recognized certifications to choose from, mapping out a cyber security learning plan can feel overwhelming. This post will break down an ideal vendor-neutral certification track for IT security professionals.

Why vendor-neutral? Vendor-neutral certifications demonstrate expertise that can be applied across multiple technologies, as opposed to vendor-specific certifications, which validate skills in a particular product line, such as Cisco network devices. Once you have the job (or have it in your sights) and you know which technologies the company uses, then it’s time to pursue vendor-specific certs.

Here is a rock-solid certification path for general cyber security professionals:

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From medicine and software to energy and construction, engineering represents some of this decade's most lucrative and exciting career paths.

best engineering jobs in america

Sweeping advances in science, industry and computing have sparked a revolution in engineer employment. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts rapid growth for a range of engineering occupations through 2020, but record job creation is only part of what makes this sector so attractive; six of the top 7 highest paying [undergraduate] college majors are in engineering, according to a new salary survey from the National Association of Colleges & Employers.

Taking into account growth potential, compensation, and key emotional "x-factors" for each position, here are the top five engineering careers for the future:

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Master Technician, Darril Gibson, breaks down the essential soft skills for peak performance and upward mobility in IT help desk job roles.

Top Soft Skills for IT Careers

Help desk technicians (and all IT professionals) need a full range of hard and soft skills to excel in their career. Hard skills are specific, measurable abilities, such as configuring Windows or troubleshooting a Cisco network, while soft skills refer to a person’s capacity to effectively interact with others. As demand for IT talent continues to rise and the workforce becomes more competitive, those who compliment their knowledge and training with superior soft skills will be in the best position for long-term success.

Here are five of the most advantageous soft skills for IT help desk technicians:

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Aggregate posts from the leading job boards indicate the best programming languages to land a job in 2013.

Programming Skills in Demand

With IT budgets at a five-year high, progressive organizations are developing new software systems and applications to boost performance, reduce costs and expand their reach across a fast-growing digital marketplace. The resulting increase in programming and development projects has placed computer programmers among this year's most sought-after professionals (IT or otherwise). 

CIO.com, a leading resource for IT executives, along with job board aggregator, Indeed.com, analyzed programming and development job offers across the top job boards to determine this year’s hottest programming languages. We built on this top-notch analysis to identify some of the key factors driving workforce demand for each language.

Here are the most marketable programming languages in 2013:

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Darril Gibson, certified technical trainer and best-selling author of IT study guides, lays out a rock-solid IT certification path to begin or advance your career as a network administrator.

it networking certification path

Aspiring IT professionals frequently ask me questions like “How can I get into an IT job?” and “What is the best IT certification path for a network administrator?” Unfortunately, there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer because there are so many variables, such as how much knowledge you start with and what type of jobs are available where you live.

However, if you are focused on landing an IT job and you‘re willing to take the time to master the materials, you can earn several certifications that will make you highly desirable as a network administrator, one of the industry’s most essential and opportunity-rich positions. Learn the material, earn the certifications, and you’ll have an opportunity to shine at network administration job interviews.

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Scott Skinger, CEO and Founder of TrainSignal, answers the age-old question of aspiring IT professionals; “Which is most important to landing the job: IT certifications, real-world experience or a college degree?”

it certifications vs experience

It’s that inevitable fork in the road for an IT professional. Determining the path that will lead you to the most success when sprucing up your resume to land that next job. What are employers looking for? Certifications? Experience? Degrees? Some combination of the three? It’s a dilemma faced by many looking to launch or advance their careers.

Ten years ago, I founded my company TrainSignal to develop training courses that help IT professionals learn new skills to grow their careers. Over the years, I've spoken to a lot of hiring managers to understand what grabs their attention when evaluating resumes. As it turns out, most are zoning in on those three factors: IT certifications, hands-on experience and education. So how do you determine the right blend to wow your future employer?

Here are some considerations when weighing the value of certifications, experience and degrees:

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Cisco has redesigned its CCNA certification to better align with next-gen IT job roles. This article looks at major updates to the new CCNA Routing & Switching credential, plus the key facts you should know to stay ahead of the curve.

Whats New CCNA Certification

The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) is Cisco’s most popular certification, and one of the IT industry’s most marketable and prolific career credentials. CCNA certification demonstrates competence as a network professional, and proves that a certified pro can install, configure, operate and troubleshoot routed & switched networks.

As technology advances and networks become increasingly sophisticated, the job roles of network professionals evolve in turn. Cisco’s revamp of its flagship credential improves CCNA training and certification curricula by incorporating the skills IT professionals need to manage the networks of today -- and tomorrow.

Important changes re new CCNA Routing & Switching

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An increase in high-profile cyber security breaches is driving new and emerging opportunities in the IT job market. This article presents a look at noteworthy attacks and the in-demand skills and cyber security job roles employers must fill to combat future threats.

Cyber Security Job Market

Despite recent advancements in cyber security infrastructure and technologies, the frequency and severity of high-profile attacks is on the rise. A January 2013 attack on the U.S. Energy Department is the latest in a string of malicious technological assaults targeting The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and social media giant, Twitter. During the last several years, governments and corporations alike have seen critical digital defenses circumvented by sport-hackers, political dissidents and technologically-inclined malcontents. These attacks and thousands of others have reinforced the demand for a competent cadre of next-generation IT security specialists.

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Posted by on in IT Education

New workforce studies indicate the best computer majors by salary.

Best Computer College Majors 2013

I'm always analyzing employment studies and talking with technology executives about the IT skills and certifications they’re looking for in new hires. In addition to experience and credentials, education is a key factor in landing your dream job. In this article we’re going back to school for a look at the best paying IT majors of study.

The January 2013 salary survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), which tracks college graduates’ job offers, and a recent Georgetown University study based on employment data from the U.S. Census Bureau, independently verified that Computer Science (CS), Computer Engineering (CE) and Computer Information Systems (CIS) graduates earn the highest starting salaries of all technology majors.

Here's a breakdown of the top 3 best paying IT majors:

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For concert pianists and network administrators alike, practice makes perfect. Certified Cisco Instructor, Mark Sabo, explores the best ways to hone your routing & switching skills.

Ways to Configure Routers and Switches

One of the most common questions my students ask is, “What can I do to get more practice configuring routers and switches?” The best thing you can do is to go out and get some real equipment and build your own lab environment. Nothing beats having real equipment to touch, smell and practice with. You can find cheap routers and switches on the internet; eBay is the most popular place where people go to unload their old equipment for dirt cheap instead of trashing it. You don’t need new, expensive equipment for a home practice lab, and this presents the best opportunity. For those of us who don’t want to spend money on a practice lab, or want the flexibility of playing with routers wherever we are, there's GNS3.

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The new IT Salary Guide from technical staffing leader Robert Half Technology indicates the IT professionals who will enjoy the biggest pay raises in 2013.

IT Salaries 2013

The information technology job market will experience a 5.3% uptick in starting IT salaries in 2013, dwarfing the 2.9% average raise for all American workers. A clear skills gap in high-demand positions is the driving factor in IT salary hikes; cutting-edge fields like mobile app development, wireless networking and big data analytics currently have more job openings than qualified professionals to fill them.

Android and iOS application developers will score the biggest raise from 2012 to 2013, with a 9% increase in starting salaries, followed closely by network engineers and data scientists.

Here are the 10 IT job roles getting the biggest pay hikes in 2013:

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Hot cloud computing skills

Cloud computing is often talked about as a technology that will make IT departments obsolete as companies seek to outsource computing needs. This analysis misses the complexity of what's actually happening in IT departments.

The actuality is that cloud technologies are running in conjunction with on-site systems, and many companies are choosing to operate and maintain their own servers - even if they have a few Cloud applications up and running. This adds a layer of complexity to effectively managing the IT needs of an organization. Rather than eliminating the role of in-house IT professionals, the cloud is merely changing the skill set and job functions of the IT department.

In my experience, here are the top 5 skills IT professionals will need to learn to work in cloud computing:

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A new report from Dice.com indicates the best IT certifications to help you get a job.

Top IT Certifications to Get a Job 2012

In its 2012 Salary Survey, IT job board Dice.com asked "Which IT certification has helped you earn a new position?" Over 18,000 employed IT professionals and technology executives responded - below are the top eight IT certifications that helped them stand out from the crowd and get hired. Also included are average salaries, experience level and noteworthy hiring trends for each credential.

Here are the top 8 IT certifications most likely to land you a new job in 2012:

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Do you like money? Do you thrive on intellectual challenge? Are you fascinated by technology? A computer science degree can lead you to a fulfilling IT career on all three counts. Read on for the top benefits of earning a computer science degree...

Computer Science Degree Benefits

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Kaplan University believes you have the right to make an informed decision about your education. To back up this belief, Kaplan introduced The Kaplan Commitment. The Kaplan Commitment program lets prospective online or campus students attend the first 5 weeks of a degree program at no cost while they decide whether or not to stay and pursue their studies. After five weeks, students can either continue in class, or withdraw without any financial obligation beyond the $45 application fee.

kaplan commitment program free trial computer degrees

Read on for Kaplan Commitment rules, degree programs, videos and more:

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UPDATE: A new post has been published based on the latest job growth projections from the U.S. BLS' Handbook 2012-2013 Edition. VIEW THE LATEST IT CAREER GROWTH PROJECTIONS

In a tough job market, it pays to be strategic, and to look for positions in industries with the best opportunities for career growth and upward mobility. ITCareerFinder examined tech job growth rates from the leading unbiased employment sources, including the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, to identify the fastest growing IT careers for 2012 and beyond.

Fastest Growing IT Jobs 2012

Here are the top five fastest growing IT career paths:

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Posted by on in IT Career News

A new survey from Computerworld indicates the most in-demand IT skills for 2012.

IT skills in demand 2012

Computerworld polled 353 IT executives about their technology and hiring plans for 2012 in its annual IT forecast survey. The results provide valuable insight into which IT skills and expertise are likely to be the most sought-after in 2012. Companies will make significant investments in their IT workforces to bolster business in the year ahead; nearly 29% of respondents plan to take on new IT staffers through Summer 2012 – a whopping 45% increase in IT hiring expectations over last year's poll. The survey also reveals that companies will seek to gain a competitive advantage through technological innovation, not just “keeping the lights on,” as they plan next year’s IT hiring.

Here are the top IT skills in demand for 2012:

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The news broke today that Android devices now account for 50% of the global smart phone market, making it the world's most popular mobile platform. When Android was introduced in 2007 it was a distant 5th in mobile platforms - trailing Apple's  iOS, Blackberry (RIM), Windows Mobile and Symbian. With millions of Android devices in use, and an incredible 500,000+ new Android devices activated daily, the popularity of Android applications is increasing exponentially - and with it the demand for Android application developers is soaring. IT recruiters are reporting unprecedented demand for talented programmers with Android development training.

Android Application Development Training

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Posted by on in IT Education

Education vs. Experience: Many people find that their career reaches a plateau and that employers place greater value on workers with a higher level of education or a degree more relevant to the modern workplace. Anyone that has ever been passed over for promotion only to find a college graduate in the post will know how frustrating this can be. An online degree offers the perfect solution.

Online Degree Benefits

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In Part 1 of this post - Personal Branding Part 1: How to Define Yours - we told you why it’s important to have a personal brand, and how you can define your own. This week, we are going to talk about marketing your brand. There are a lot of ways to promote your personal brand, all of which fall into two categories: Online and Off.

Market Yourself for Job Search

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Establishing a personal brand is now a crucial part of a successful job search. Since we think it’s such an important tool for job seekers to understand, and because the experts we spoke to had such good advice, we decided to divide our personal branding post into two parts. Read this then check out part 2 here - Personal Branding Part 2: Marketing Yourself.

Personal Branding for Job Search

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While most web developers share the same goal of bug-free, functional, usable web sites, there are several programming languages developers can use to reach that goal. Let’s compare the major programming language choices available to the modern web developer.

top programming languages

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Used strategically, LinkedIn is a powerful tool for online job search. It is however very common for job seekers to ignore the value of LinkedIn, and focus their efforts on the massive job search engines like CareerBuilder and Monster. The big boards should still be part of your online job search strategy, but at times like these you need to use every weapon at your disposal; LinkedIn is the strongest job search tool you never used - or at least never used to its full extent.

LinkedIn Job Search Tips

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