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Best path to enter a career in IT?

  • Last Updated:
  • Apr 3rd, 2018 5:21 pm
[OP]
Jr. Member
Oct 24, 2002
114 posts
5 upvotes
Ontario

Best path to enter a career in IT?

Hey guys,

I've recently arrived in Ontario and am planning a career change. Previously, I have done teaching jobs overseas (Japan/Korea/Australia); however, I know that it is difficult to get a teaching job in Ontario. Therefore I was hoping to get into the IT sector, where there always seems to be jobs.

I am looking at or hoping to get advice on which is the best path to take. I have always been good with and interested in computers and IT so it is not all totally new to me; however, currently I have no certifications in the field. I am doing self study mostly, learning Linux and Python in hopes of becoming a System Administrator. However, I aslo see many postings for QA Analysis and Business Analysis, these jobs seem like they require less technical skills and perhaps may be a better starting point for me but I am not sure.

Are any of you in these careers, how easy is it to break in, what are the job perspectives, where is the best place to train for these careers; these are the questions that I have, wondering if any of you guys have the answers.

Thanks.
24 replies
Penalty Box
Aug 11, 2005
4175 posts
1421 upvotes
start by working at geek squad. everyone there loves working on computers
Political avatars and signature are not permitted.
Sr. Member
Sep 29, 2008
929 posts
191 upvotes
Mississauga
How are you finding python? If you can become a good programmer it will open up a lot more doors for you.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Oct 24, 2002
114 posts
5 upvotes
Ontario
I've put Python on hold for a bit while I study for RHCSA; I have a family and work full time, so progress is not going as quick as I like just due to time constraints, not so much due to difficulty.
Deal Expert
Oct 6, 2005
16570 posts
2292 upvotes
OThePestO wrote: I have always been good with and interested in computers and IT so it is not all totally new to me; however, currently I have no certifications in the field. I am doing self study mostly, learning Linux and Python in hopes of becoming a System Administrator. However, I aslo see many postings for QA Analysis and Business Analysis, these jobs seem like they require less technical skills and perhaps may be a better starting point for me but I am not sure.
That's a good start - at least you have interest in the field. I would setup a home lab (ESXi, Linux, Windows, and a L2/L3 Managed Switch) and get some certificates. That should put far ahead of the competition.
Jr. Member
Aug 24, 2010
105 posts
94 upvotes
motime wrote: How are you finding python? If you can become a good programmer it will open up a lot more doors for you.
I’ve also wondered about this, what are some of the most desired software programs for jobs? Python, R, Java? I am currently working in healthcare but I’ve always thought about more education / side hustle.
Sr. Member
Sep 29, 2008
929 posts
191 upvotes
Mississauga
Delilah14 wrote: I’ve also wondered about this, what are some of the most desired software programs for jobs? Python, R, Java? I am currently working in healthcare but I’ve always thought about more education / side hustle.
Python and R and critical for AI/Machine/Data Science learning. Python is an intuitive language that is used everywhere though. If you want to look at the job market, I would think Java and Javascript have the most job openings.

The key to programming is that once you become proficient at any major language, it takes very little time to pick up another one.

If you have no previous programming experience then just pick up a friendly language and play around. Javascript would probably be the easiest language to start off with and you can make powerful websites/web apps just using javascript.
Jr. Member
Jan 11, 2017
121 posts
40 upvotes
OThePestO wrote: I've put Python on hold for a bit while I study for RHCSA; I have a family and work full time, so progress is not going as quick as I like just due to time constraints, not so much due to difficulty.
Good plan, developing a technology domain baseline is important. Software development is fine, but I'd work on learning the "enterprise basics". For example,
o Linux - RedHat, SUSE, Ubuntu (RHCSA would be a good start), they're all pretty much the same. Get one under your belt and the others are a short jump
o UNIX - Commercial grade (ie. Solaris, AIX, HPUX etc) - Yep, still a high demand for sys. admins, not everything has gone Linux
o Virtualization - VmWare, Virtualbox, KVM
o Linux container computing - Redhat, Docker etc..
o Networking - baseline understanding of architecture and a good understanding of the OSI stack
o Enterprise storage networking - Storage (block, file), Storage networks (know what a Brocade is and what it does), backup and archive, business continuance etc..
o Cloud - OpenStack... Encompassing everything mentioned above including puppet, ansible, playbooks etc..
Deal Addict
Oct 29, 2010
4313 posts
662 upvotes
OP, IT industry is very tricky to get into.

99% of the companies don't want to train people from nothing, if you have 2-3 years experience in the industry, they will be ok at filling the gaps but from nothing is extremely rare.
I see that everyone floods you with different names, chances are you are probably going to sink if you just try to read into it.
The best thing you can do is network and find a small company that is willing to teach in exchange for a big salary discount, I'd even be willing to work for free if I were you but it's probably not realistic.
If you can find a place that will give you ~35k and understand that you have 0 experience and be ok with it, then it really doesn't matter what you're going to do there.
To make matters worse, you also don't have education in the field.

Having said that, it is possible but it's very hard and will take a while. You basically need to have the mindset of a new grad, since employers can't judge them on experience, they will just let them do technical tests and if they show enough hope, they will hire them.
Technical tests will often consist of some basic practical defenitions (Object Oriented Programming, basic knowledge of data structures, basic knowledge of SQL), algorithm questions (those are fairly hard even for experienced developers, if you want I bought a great book in that area to help do well with those type, it's called "Cracking the coding interview") and then some more practical questions like a scenario where you need to build a system and what kind of functions you're going to implement in there.
Common questions for that include building a file system class (https://www.careercup.com/question?id=17722662).
It usually doesn't need to include any code, more like verbalize on all the moving parts that you want to have there and how they interact together in an OOP fashion.

If you can pass a technical exam like that, I'm pretty sure they will hire you even without any experience.
One of the reasons why those type of exams hold a lot of value is because often times even developers with 5+ years of experience struggle with it.
I've had interviews where I thought I did just ok and I started to see the hiring manager run to get his director as soon as possible because he was so excited that I managed to pass his test (even though it was far from perfect).
Probably took me 10+ in person interviews before I was in that situation, so It's not easy...
Deal Addict
Jul 29, 2002
1952 posts
82 upvotes
If Linux sysadmin is your goal then I would prioritize in the following areas:

1. Lab/Cloud: Setup your lab in the cloud (Azure/AWS), if budget permits. At least in my experience, most companies are moving part of their infrastructure to the cloud therefore having some AWS/Azure experience is a big plus.
2. Linux: You are already on-track with RH certs. I wouldn't worry too much about commercial UNIX because it's impossible for you to get any real exposure from home, unlike Linux.
3. Scripting: Python is a must-have these days. Be familiar with using python to manipulate files and call rest apis. Don't forget shell-scripting.
4. Config/Orchestration: Once you have a good grasp of sysadmin tasks in #2, try to perform those tasks using tools like Puppet/Ansible..etc. It's the only sane way to manage a large fleet of systems.
5. Containers: dockers, kubernetes, etc.
Jr. Member
Jan 11, 2017
121 posts
40 upvotes
Regarding commercial.. Solaris for Intel is downloadable.. and the skill set is "still" in demand even though Oracle is killing it off.
Member
Jul 26, 2016
209 posts
76 upvotes
Apart from IT support that pays $15/hr, QA is the easliest to get in with a decent pay around $50K. Manual QA can be boring. BA is good but most BA workers that I see are female (maybe baised opinion due to limited scope).

If you have teaching experience, you can work as a career counsellor or such. The pay is very good (around $50K) given that it's only 35 hours or less. You work for government/non-profit sector which basically gurantee good pay and work life balance and minimal work stress.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Oct 24, 2002
114 posts
5 upvotes
Ontario
Thanks for all the wonderful advice. Going to full-time school is not really an option. I will probably quit my work once my wife finds work so I can concentrate more on studying. I have option of taking training courses but can't really go back to school for another degree. It seems like I'm on the right path but it will just take some time, you can't really rush this, reading books and watching videos is fine, but it actually takes some time to absorb all that information.
Jr. Member
Feb 7, 2018
155 posts
54 upvotes
Toronto ON
OP, look, I have 13y experience as a developer. Also been a QA for a short time. QA is the quickest way into IT. Look for QA training courses in Kijiji/Craig's List - these offer good training and help with the job search. Don't try for BA - everywhere I 've tried, they asked either for experience or certificates, which I both don't have. While both for QA and BA is important to understand the business processes, for BA this is a 100% requirement, for which they are more strict.

Now, I don't know how much you're gonna like it, but QA is the straight answer to your question. Most important thing you need is some analytical thinking, having the passion to do simple repetitive tasks over and over again and willing to dive into the application to investigate what happened. Also very important - you need to have some enjoyment on breaking things, because partly this is what you need to do time to time. No laugh here, I'm serious. There are different types of testing. Simplest being just to see if the thing work, but there are complicated ones where you try to break the thing. These Kijiji/CL courses will teach you the basics of QA, which is the language of the business, using some modern qa tools, basic analytical approach to test applications and basic problem investigation, but will be great if you have additional skills. For modern QA good skills which they don't teach, but it is great to have are:
(i am a bit detailed, but i have no idea how much do you know)

- basic programming skills - you already started python, this is great. python is one of the most desired prog.lang.for a QA. and it is also great to know some shell scripting (bash scripting or .bat on windows)

- basic sysadmin skills and some networking - would be great if you can handle installation of windows 10 and at least one linux distribution of your choice (pick ubuntu or debian or fedora or centos as a start), being able to investigate log files, how much memory a process is using, killing processes, using tools like ping and traceroute

- basic database knowledge - what an RDBMS is, how tables are organized, basic SQL skills, which is being able to do at least a SELECT and eventually knowing what the different JOINs do. practice on MySQL as a start.

now, these are GREAT to have skills. keep in mind most junior and intermediate QAs i've encountered (all in the financial industry - banking domain to be precise), especially here in Canada,being on site or outsourced, have no idea of these things and still get the salary, so consider yourself in. yep, no idea how this happens, but I've seen people getting banking QA jobs in Toronto, which barely know what computer is, beside how to check their gmail emails, very roughly said of course, and then manage to keep them and while some get kicked off, some manage to keep them. whoever invented the advertisement was a genius

i think it was 2011 when i became a Jr. QA, starting from scratch with no experience as a QA and none to little Canadian experience (however with like 7y experience as a programmer from Europe). took me 3-4mo to land a banking position as a QA. it sure also depends on your self-promotional skills, so bear this in mind, and I don't remember my salary back then, I remember i didn't paid attention to the salary at all, as I simply wanted to enter the field, but I think was like 40-42k back then.

it wasn't bad, but wasn't me, so i went back being a programmer after few months

I am not sure how fast you can enter IT as a sysadmin with no experience, but will be more complicated, as admin and dev (programmers) are technical people. You sure need to know lot more than a QA and with the newer hype for the cloud infrastructures and Azure/AWS/etc and Docker etc things get much more complicated, but if you enjoy just doing this, then go for it. Point is you need to enjoy at least a little bit. While generally I don't like being a programmer, thing is I enjoy it just a little bit and this little bit is what still keeps me doing it.

I would say in my experience generally, if you enjoy mostly:
- building things from scratch --> programmer
- connect existing things together --> sysadmin
- destroying things --> qa
- help others understand how things work and troubleshoot them --> csr (support)
- design things but don't like making them --> ba

CSR is another quick option (customer support rep), but involves sometimes memorizing manuals of things before you see the product, which is stressing, especially with a nervous customer on the phone or a time deadline

Enough, choice is yours. Good luck!

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