Top 5 IT Careers for Beginners
A breakdown of the best entry-level tech roles, including job descriptions, why it’s a good IT career for beginners, education requirements and salaries.
Amidst rapid growth and recent innovations in the tech sector, there's no better time than now to start an IT career path. The information technology industry offers a range of entry-level jobs for recent college graduates or working adults looking to change professions. However, with so many options available, figuring out where to start your search can be daunting. In this article, we'll explore the top five IT careers for beginners, highlighting the roles and responsibilities for each, why it’s a good fit for beginners, training and certification requirements, and entry-level salaries.
In no particular order, here are the best IT careers for beginners:
Help Desk Technician
Job Description: Help desk technicians provide technical support to users experiencing issues with computer hardware and software. They diagnose and troubleshoot problems, either remotely or in-person, guiding end-users through the resolution process. Sometimes called technical support specialists, help desk technicians also document issues, escalate complex problems to higher-level support staff, and assist in routine system maintenance and updates.
Why It’s Good For Beginners: The IT help desk is great for beginners because it exposes them to various technologies and computer systems while honing their problem-solving and communication skills. As a help desk technician, beginners gain hands-on experience working with different hardware, software and network configurations, which can be valuable for advancing into specialized tech roles like network architect and cloud engineer. Additionally, help desk technicians interact with users from diverse backgrounds and levels of technical proficiency, refining their ability to explain technical concepts in clear, accessible language - a rare and sought-after skill in the IT workforce.
Education Requirements: Help desk technician roles typically require an associate or bachelor's degree in information technology, computer networking or a related field. However, some employers may consider candidates with a high school diploma and relevant certifications, such as the CompTIA A+, Google IT Support Professional Certificate or Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA). Practical experience, either through internships, volunteer work or personal projects, can also be advantageous in securing an entry-level role at the IT help desk. Strong customer service skills, patience and a willingness to learn are essential qualities in this position.
Entry-Level Salary: $47,900
Why It’s Good For Beginners: In addition to being a solid career in its own right, computer programming is an ideal job for beginners as it provides a strong foundation to becoming a software engineer - one of the industry’s best computer jobs. Beginner programmers gain hands-on experience working with popular programming languages and technologies, which can be applied across a variety of IT roles and sectors. Additionally, programmers earn the highest entry-level salary on this list, coming in at just over $85k.
Education Requirements: Requirements for a computer programmer role typically include a bachelor's degree in computer science, software development or a related field. Many employers will also consider candidates with an associate degree or relevant programming certs like the Oracle Certified Associate - Java SE 8 Programmer, AWS Certified Developer - Associate, or Python Institute's Certified Entry-Level Python Programmer (PCEP). In addition to formal education, having a strong portfolio showcasing your programming skills with a variety of coding projects can help when applying for entry-level positions in this space.
Entry-Level Salary: $85,293
Job Description: Network administrators are responsible for installing, configuring and maintaining an organization's computer networks - a vital component of IT infrastructure. They ensure the efficient operation of the network, monitor performance, implement basic security measures and troubleshoot issues as they arise. Network administrators play a crucial role in keeping an organization's computer systems running smoothly and securely, enabling seamless communication and data sharing between users.
Why It’s Good For Beginners: This is a great entry-level tech job because it provides a solid understanding of networking fundamentals, such as network protocols, routing and switching. As a network administrator, beginners develop a hands-on skill set using hardware and software that is transferable to various IT careers and industries. Furthermore, with the increasing reliance on connectivity and the proliferation of emerging network technologies in the cloud, the demand for skilled and certified network administrators remains high, offering job stability and various paths for growth.
Education Requirements: Network administration jobs typically require a bachelor's degree in information technology, computer networking or a similar field. Hiring managers may consider candidates with an associate degree and relevant experience. Relevant IT certifications, such as Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) and CompTIA Network+ will be helpful to securing an entry-level networking role. In addition to technical expertise, strong soft skills in problem-solving, communication and time management are essential for this role.
Entry-Level Salary: $67,173
Job Description: Cybersecurity analysts specialize in safeguarding an organization's computer systems and networks from potential threats, including unauthorized access, data breaches and attacks. They monitor security systems, detect vulnerabilities and implement protective measures to maintain the confidentiality, integrity and availability of sensitive information.
Why It’s Good For Beginners: Cybersecurity analyst is a great entry-level tech career as it helps develop a strong knowledge base in the technologies and best practices of information security - one of most lucrative and fastest growing IT disciplines. As a cybersecurity analyst, newcomers gain valuable experience working with cutting-edge network and data security tools. With the escalation of cyber threats and increasing emphasis on data protection, the demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals is skyrocketing, offering a stable and high-paying IT career with plenty of upward mobility.
Education Requirements: The education requirements for a cybersecurity analyst role typically include a bachelor's degree in cybersecurity, information assurance, computer science or a related field. Employers may consider candidates for junior IT security positions with an associate degree, coupled with relevant work experience and certifications. Marketable entry-level security certifications include CompTIA Security+, EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) or the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) from ISACA. In addition to technical prowess, soft skills in communication, analytical thinking and attention to detail are crucial for success in cybersecurity.
Entry-Level Salary: $75,578
Job Description: Web developers build and maintain websites, focusing on both the front-end (what the user interacts with) and back-end (server-side code that makes the website function) aspects. They collaborate with designers and clients to create visually appealing, user-friendly websites that meet specific requirements and function seamlessly across different devices and browsers.
Education Requirements: Some web developer jobs require an undergraduate degree in web development, computer programming or computer science, however many employers consider candidates with relevant experience, especially if they possess a strong portfolio of web development projects and can effectively speak to their creation. I’ve personally hired quite a few web developers over the years and their body of work almost always speaks louder than their education. Industry certifications, such as the Google UX Design Certificate can also be beneficial in landing an entry-level job in web design and development. In addition to hard skills, successful web developers need a strong acumen in problem-solving, communication, collaboration and time management.
Entry-Level Salary: $51,475
The tech industry is brimming with opportunities for those who seek to embark on a new career path. The best IT careers for beginners - including computer programmer, help desk technician, network administrator, cybersecurity analyst and web developer - offer a hands-on introduction to tools and technologies that can be applied across a wide range of positions and industries.
When choosing your first IT career path, it's vital to consider your interests, strengths and long-term objectives. As you gain experience and grow in your chosen field, you'll likely discover a world of opportunities for career advancement and specialization. Happy trails!
Mean salaries for entry-level IT careers in the U.S. are courtesy of Salary.com.