Ask LH: How Can I Switch From Teaching To IT?

Hi Lifehacker, I’m a recent mature-age graduate who has worked in many different fields but not the field I’ve studied (IT). Therefore I have no work experience in the field except for the university projects and assignments that I did. I currently work in a different field altogether (teaching) which was also part of my double degree, but there are minimal chances of getting a full-time job there. How do I get my foot in the door for IT jobs if I have no commercial experience? Thanks, Teach To Their Own

Dear TTTO,

So you went down the tacked-on “Dip Ed” route, eh? I did the exact same thing with my journalism degree. Despite having zero passion for the education sector, I ended up falling into a casual teaching rut simply because it was easier to find work. By the time I got my first freelance writing gig I’d been out of university for more than five years. That was back in 2006 and I’ve been a full-time journalist ever since. As with most industries, the trick was getting my foot in the door — after that, it’s been mostly plain sailing.

With that said, having a proven track record tends to be more important in IT than in journalism, which isn’t really something you can fake on a resume. Your best bet is to list the software you are proficient in, along with any key strengths or skills that carry across from other professions you’ve worked in.

One good way to boost your credentials is to earn more certifications. While certs aren’t a substitute for real-world experience, they may help to get you a look in and will also ensure you’re suitably qualified for certain positions. The value of certifications goes up with the difficulty and experience required to get them, but low level certifications shouldn’t be discounted out of hand; especially when you’re starting near the bottom.

You may also want to consider a few years of teaching IT at the TAFE level. Think about it. You already have the necessary qualifications on both ends, so this shouldn’t be too difficult to tee up. Having “IT lecturer” on your resume certainly isn’t going to hurt your chances of employment, and you’ll be able to build up relevant skills while teaching.

Seeing as you have minimal IT experience, it’s absolutely essential that you nail your cover letter or introductory email. This is your first chance to persuade an employer that you might be worth hiring and will probably do more to convince them than the actual resume. You can find plenty more job application tips via our Resume tag.

On a final note, don’t let rejection get you down! Job hunting can be an exhausting and demoralising experience where there doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel. But persistence usually pays off. Good luck!

If any IT readers have additional advice to share, let TTTO know in the comments section below.


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6 responses to “Ask LH: How Can I Switch From Teaching To IT?”