Stop the Presses! How to Change Careers from Publishing to IT
Whether it's being a reporter for a weekly newspaper or going through the slush pile at a publishing house, the publishing world is a fast paced and sometimes stressful career path. If you're wondering about a career change but don't know what would be a good fit for you, consider an information technology career.
IT Careers vs. Publishing
You may be wondering what a publishing career and a technology career have in common.
Just like your publishing career may not be “The Devil Wears Prada”…
IT isn't really “Office Space.”
There are a lot of careers under both umbrellas that make stereotypes all that more unreliable.
You may know that both careers involve a lot of problem-solving skills, but were you aware that many IT careers also focus on helping people? Both careers also can be high-stress, fast-paced environments.
Having worked in publishing, you may have a keen attention to detail and can zip through projects seamlessly as fires pop up and need to be put out. Whether you are a fact checker, proofreader, copywriter, layout designer or editorial assistant, making the leap from publishing to IT does not have to be difficult.
Reading the Footnotes: What It's Really Like to Work in IT
To give you an idea about what it's like to work in IT, let's compare two entry-level IT jobs to see what sort of work and life you can expect with a career switch to IT. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a job as a help desk technician will grow by 12 percent between 2014 and 2024 and job availability as a computer support analyst is expected to grow by 10 percent. These two jobs can be springboards for other jobs in IT, like network administrators and software developers.
|Help Desk Technician||Computer Support Analyst|
|Salary||$52,160 average||$52,160 average|
|Availability||“Normal” work hours||Generally requires some nights and weekends|
|Work–Life Balance||Can leave work at the office||Can leave work at the office|
Possible Career Path
|Help Desk Technician → End User Support Specialist → Network Administrator*||Computer Support Analyst → Coder → Software Developer*|
|Training||College degree not necessary, but certifications are beneficial||Associates degree or post-secondary classes often required|
|Job Outlook||12% growth expected||10% growth expected|
Estimated Time to Career Change
(Statistics and information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; items marked with an asterisk (*) are from itcareerfinder.com.)
You do not necessarily need a college degree for either job. Many of the things you learned while getting a liberal or fine arts degree can benefit you in IT. So instead of going back for a technical degree, you could start in either of these positions after taking a few computer classes, self-studying at home and getting the right certifications, making either option a cost-effective entry to changing careers into IT.
From Graphic Designer to ITAlexandrea Alvarado was studying to be a graphic designer and feeling stuck because there weren’t many jobs available. She heard there were opportunities in IT, and after a little searching online, she found the 8-week CompTIA Tech Career Academy IT-Ready Technical Support program. Alvarado’s now an application support specialist and much happier than she was in her graphic design days.
Read Alex’s Story on the CompTIA Tech Career Academy blog.
The Skills Needed to Get into IT
Think back to when you decided to get into publishing. Why did you pursue that career path? Was it in the hopes of being able to use your or creativity once in a while? Or to get your ideas, or the work of others, out in the world? While you think about what your career goals are, consider that the skills you use everyday in your publishing career can crossover to a job with computers.
These might include:
- Understanding markup (i.e., editorial language)
- Attention to detail
- Working with data
- Understanding workflow
What this means, essentially, is that you need to understand some basic math as it pertains to the business, you have to be able to work with information and you have to understand the process of how things work from one department to another. All of this is important as you consider how to get into the IT field. And while editorial markup may not factor into your new career, the way you approached learning that and committing it to memory could relate to what you'd need to do to learn a programming language.
This likely just skims the surface of the skills that are important in your current job, and you may have other skills that will also benefit you in an IT career. For example, you must be a good communicator in publishing, and someone with stellar communication skills is always needed in top IT jobs. And the ability to prioritize and move swiftly between tasks is also an important skill that translates well into IT.
Think about it – how many times have you looked back on your workday and wondered how it ended up so different than how you thought it would? Things can change quickly in publishing, and the same is true with IT. Your current job skills make a career change that much easier.
Breaking News: How to Get into IT
So, you are considering a career change to IT. What sort of experience will you need? Well, first of all, it's probably no surprise that you should be good with technology and computers in general. Think about where your strengths lie and what you like about technology. Are you good at troubleshooting computer issues for your friends and family? Do you enjoy trying to make your own computer run more efficiently? Both of these can be stepping stones to IT careers, as is, say, helping out a charitable organization with configuring its network or getting a bit of side work helping someone clean up their website. While you are considering a new career in IT and still employed in the publishing field, you may want to do some moonlighting to get your new career going in the right direction.
How Long Will It Take to Change Careers?
While you may be really excited to hit the ground running in IT, it's important to remember that a career change takes time. Corinne Mills, author and managing director of Personal Career Management, suggests patience when transitioning to a new career.
“While some people want to radically reinvent their career instantly, it is more realistic to work toward a new career over time. This might mean making changes in your current job, studying a course in the evening, shadowing someone in the role or learning new skills to make yourself more attractive to potential employers,” she told The Guardian. “It might also mean that you gradually move into your new career via a series of jobs rather than one giant leap – and this is important if you want to protect your salary rather than going back to entry-level wages.”
The amount of time will be different for everyone, depending on your transferrable skills and experience and the amount and type of training you need. Career coach Daisy Swan says you'll need to allot time “to (re-)educate, to develop a new network in that field and to gain meaningful experiences that introduce you as a player... which then leads to gathering credibility and accessibility to your new work and new career.”
For some, it may be a few months, but for others it may be longer. Regardless of how long it takes, remember to go into the process with patience and a list of SMART goals that will keep you steadily on the path to a career in IT.
Where Do I Go from Here?
As you're thinking of a possible new career in IT, think about what job in technology you would most like to have. Our free career quiz should be the first stop on your way to a new career! This will give you more direction and more to think about as you narrow down which career path you'd like to follow.
Once you have an intended career path in mind, do a little research. What sort of training will you need? Perhaps it's as simple as taking a class online or at a community college. Talk to someone in the field you'd like to be in and pick their brain for a bit. Research IT certifications and see which one can help you land that first IT job.
And when you are out on your first IT interviews, remember to lean heavily on your former (!) career in publishing and talk about what skills you gained that will help you in your new IT career.
What's the First Step?
Take the our free career quiz to see what IT career matches the unique set of skills you've honed in publishing.