For someone looking to segue into IT, what is the most direct educational route to take- tech school, university, or career diploma program? In general, what do you recommend for a good IT foundation?
Like most questions in IT, there is a lot of debate for the best route into the Information Technology field. I personally went with a specialty school (which offered a diploma, but I went for a degree) and have been happy with the choice. The tech school method I would consider one of the quickest paths into the Information Technology field. You get the information you need, the hands on experience to help, and than quickly into the field. The downside to these kind of diploma schools is that, they tend to quickly flood the market with IT professionals with the same credentials all competing for the same jobs.
If you are more inclined to go to a 4 year college, you are required to take courses outside of the technology field, but with the flooded market, some companies will weigh a Bachelors Degree heavier than anything below it. This occurs even if the people have the same experience outside of that. The downside to that, is after 4 years where the market will be at, and the diploma guy might have a 3 years of experience head start.
If you are looking to just add some skills (as everyone in IT should), then online courses are a great primer to what you already have. All my skills in web design, come from me just designing websites and trying to copy what other sites were doing. I would read tutorials, try it myself, and then try to change it for my site. There were many days where I wanted to pull my hair out, but I eventually learned. Every Information Technology professional should be continuing your education, if you stop then you risk loosing your edge completely.
So in conclusion, it’s not a simple answer, each choice has its own benefits and its own downsides. I tend to lean towards a degree, since it does get you a heads up in the field (even if it is an unfair one), and would always recommend toying around on your own with either choice, and get some experience.
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