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Top IT skills for advancing your career in any field

August 31, 2021
Team of IT experts coding on multiple screens in the office

In a world that runs on all sorts of technology from mobile computing and smartphones to automation in factories to the cybersecurity behind your favorite online stores, it’s easy to see how developing information technology (IT) skills could serve you well in advancing your career.

Why IT skills are important for any field

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 11% from 2019 to 2029, adding about 531,200 new jobs.1 Reviewing that data, it’s clear that computing skills can lead to a lot of opportunities and professional stability with sustained need for IT professionals.

The BLS also reports that demand for computer and IT workers will stem primarily from greater emphasis on cloud computing, the collection and storage of big data, and information security.1 What’s promising about each of these needs is that they’ll likely appear across all sectors, meaning you could be well positioned to simply build on your current industry knowledge with computing expertise to get a promotion or transition into a role at your organization with more opportunities.

How to become a tech expert

The demand for computing skills has also driven a market for products and services that promise to make you an IT expert in little time. There are plenty of options out there from bootcamps to coding applications but for a comprehensive curriculum along with academic and career support, consider an online Master of Science in Computer and Information Science from a trusted name in education. Today’s online degrees often offer the option to take courses on your time so you don’t need to put your life on pause, plus with vetted faculty and audited curricula, you know you’re getting the real deal. Plus, some master’s programs now offer pathways for computing newbies to gain a solid foundation of IT skills that will catch them up to computing peers.

If a computing degree seems right for your career goals, read on for top skills to develop that could be immediately relevant to your current job.

Top IT skills for advancing your career -- or getting a new one

Basic Coding

If you’re starting off on your professional IT journey as a newbie, you likely have some basic computing skills already. Many people have dabbled in coding languages like HTML and CSS which are used to design the look and feel of web pages from every industry. Even if you haven’t spent a lot of time with them in the past, a few courses will have you up-to-speed in no time and can be an easy path to begin taking on computing responsibilities at work.

Data Analysis

Being able to review and make decisions based on data is crucial to developing business in all fields. Learning basic programming done in software like Microsoft Excel or Access or languages like Structured Query Language (SQL) will be key for getting the most out of database management systems and processing data streams.

System Administration

IT professionals will consistently be called upon to navigate a variety of operating systems including Windows, Linux and OSX. Especially if you’re interested in working in cyber security you’ll need to be prepared to secure an IT network and manage user roles and permissions. Learning best practices for administering operating systems is a great starting point for someone interested in pivoting to an IT-based career.

Soft Skills for IT Careers

Your soft skills, non-technical traits and behaviors that shape how you work, can be just as important as the technical skills you’ll need for a career in IT. Problem-solving and critical thinking are two key traits of successful computer science professionals. A willingness to learn, working effectively with coworkers and communication are all crucial skills for any field. You should also work on becoming more familiar with the lingo of the IT field and its trends and developments. A good master’s program will also help you develop these skills by giving you opportunities to collaborate with classmates, connect with faculty about their experiences and study ethics of computer science.

Consider whether you could improve any of these skills and take advantage of opportunities to flex your strengths to start building your reputation as a dependable employee. Sometimes goodwill and professionalism will be the differentiating factor in hiring one candidate over another for a job that they’re equally qualified for.

Launch your computer and information science career today

While enrolling in an online master’s computer and information science program is a good way to build a strong foundation of IT and analytics skills, you don’t have to wait until you're finished with the degree to start applying new knowledge to your profession. If you’re working as a project manager or in another business administration role and looking to increase responsibilities at your company, gaining basic IT systems skills could be the key to getting a step up. Having knowledge of the field helps computing professionals communicate effectively to determine the role of IT systems needed in an organization. Your background knowledge and experience plus new IT skills could give you a strong edge.

Choose a program that meets your needs

Marquette University’s Master of Science in Computer and Information Science has pathways to fit your experience level and career goals. Ranked No. 4 for best services and technologies in an online IT program2, we’re dedicated to your success from the moment you apply. Our expert faculty will work with you to develop key skills and use their networks to help you make connections in the field. Check out our computer and information science curriculum for a peek at the top IT skills you can learn in as few as two years. Apply today.