In this day and age, there are few skill domains as valuable and versatile as Information Technology. If you want to develop a skill set that’s both lucrative and practically guaranteed to land you a steady job, you couldn’t pick much better than IT in the United States.
Yet acquiring the education to make you a valuable worker in the IT-sphere is trickier than you might think. Not only do you have to consider where to find the right lessons or classes for the IT skills you need to learn, but you also need to balance budget and geography.
Houston, Texas is, fortunately, one of the best metropolitan areas to get your start in IT, however. It’s a city that is rapidly expanding both physically and across the digital frontier.
Below, you’ll find our comprehensive guide that can show you how to determine what basic computer classes you need and where best to find them.
Top IT Professional Skills You’ll Need
Regardless of where you plan to end up within the IT sphere, it’s important to consider the actual skills you’ll be learning over the course of your education. Some skills are more generalized and are likely to be shared across all IT workers regardless of their specialty.
Other skills are much more focused and enable an IT professional to take on harder work within a specific niche. Those skills can also be valuable because of personal interest; some folks are more interested in certain aspects of IT than others.
Let’s go over some of the main IT professional skills you’ll need in Houston and beyond:
It doesn’t matter what IT job you end up taking: you’ll need a significant background and fluency in coding in at least one of the many languages. Note that some coding languages are more common than others, so they might be good choices if you want to maximize your employability.
Focus on things like C++ and Python. You can alternatively learn how to write in rarer coding languages, though this is better if you are more likely to take a specialized job that utilizes that coding language in the future.
Application Programming and Development
Developers for applications are enjoying a huge job boom at the moment. Also known as software developers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that they are set to enjoy a 21% job growth rate over the next 10 years. If you want to make sure you have the skills to market for employers, application development is the way to go.
This skill set focuses on creating web, mobile, and social applications. Since these apps are used by millions of people every day, this knowledge is also a great thing to learn if you want your work to have maximum impact.
Networking and Wireless
Finally, many IT professionals will need at least a soft understanding of networking and wireless communication. This is especially true because wireless networking both in our homes and beyond is becoming a standard as opposed to wired connectivity.
Networking and network developer jobs can be found throughout the market, especially by well-known employers like Cisco.
Figuring Out How to Get an IT Education
So you’ve at least somewhat narrow down what kind of IT classes you want to take. Now what?
Now it’s time to figure out where you can get that education and what works best for your budget and schedule. It doesn’t necessarily have to start and end with college.
As an example, there are plenty of online classroom organizations like Khan Academy. They provide lots of beginner computer classes across a wide variety of topics, including IT. While you have to pay to get the classes most worth your while, they’re certainly more affordable than even the cheapest college courses and can provide you with a decent foundational knowledge.
Community College and Beyond
Of course, community college is also a great place to start, particularly if you are a little low on cash. You can get excellent higher education from community colleges for much less money than a four-year university, and many of the best community colleges in Houston have outstanding IT programs. Other cities to consider are NYC and Chicago.
As an example, the Houston Community College System hosts a series of campuses across the Houston area and services almost 60,000 students. They have a huge class selection and can let you get a start toward a four-year degree no matter your interests or your education level.
Even better, many of these campuses of opportunities for workforce training and networking, both of which are valuable for future IT professionals.
After you have foundational knowledge, however, it’s likely you’ll want to specialize further or obtain a bachelor’s degree. For this, you’ll need a great university. The University of Houston is extremely highly rated and has a somewhat competitive acceptance rate of 61%.
They provide a wealth of possible degree options, along with some of the best advanced and basic computer classes in the Houston area. To make things even better, some of their adult computer classes can be completed online: a perfect option for those in need of a flexible educational schedule.
Online Learning and Tutoring
Even with these avenues, college isn't for everyone. In addition, many people want to learn about IT while already being cemented in an ancillary career or just for the fun of it. For virtually any other educational desire, online learning and tutoring offer a way for you to learn about IT without having to head to a physical class.
As an example, Superprof provides a platform through which you can find online tutors for just about any IT subject you can imagine. Not only that, but you’ll also be able to vet different tutors based on the reviews their previous students left for them and their pricing points.
In essence, Superprof allows you to shop for the ideal tutor for your needs rather than the other way around.
It’s even affordable, especially compared to traditional college educations. With Superprof, finding tutors for basic and advanced computer classes in the Houston area or beyond has never been easier.
Putting It All Together
In the end, you should have a comprehensive action plan starting from where you are now and ending with your IT education complete.
To start, keep your budget and scheduling needs in mind so you can immediately narrow down what options will likely suit you best. As an example, if you don’t have lots of money or time, online tutoring for taking basic computer skills classes at a community college might be a better fit than signing up for a four-year university.
That choice might even still be worthwhile if you want to pursue a career in IT eventually. Remember, classes you complete and knowledge you accumulate never go away. Even if you can pursue an actual degree for a few years, it might be worthwhile to make the most of your time now and build up some IT skills so your path to a degree is easier in the future.
After you've determined how you're going to learn about IT, go for it! The good thing about IT careers is that most of them are viable when it comes to employment and salary. So, you have a lot of freedom when it comes to what you actually want to study and what classes you take.
Whatever you choose, be sure to pick stuff that interests you! IT is a fascinating field, and you’ll enjoy it more if you focus on the aspects that capture your imagination instead of pursuing what everyone else likes.