Technology Careers Are Within Your Grasp

Technology careers are not difficult to come by. Because technology envelops us, surrounding our daily lives, from our automatic toothbrushes in the morning to timers on computers and televisions that turn off in the evening as we drift to sleep, a career in technology is easy to find.

The problem most people have – and one that stymies many who would otherwise pursue a technical career – is that technical careers are highly specialized. Having a technical career can mean anything from understanding how a car’s computer works, and being part of an automotive shop, to programming medical devices, to teaching others how to use new software. There are also the more familiar types of careers, such as software programmers and videogame developers.

To decide which technical career is right for you, look for technical fields that build on your current interests and experience. Automotive background? Why not pursue a career in programming and developing computers in vehicles. An interest in fashion? Perhaps working on a way to show customers how make up or clothes would look, before they try them on, would be of interest to you.

Regardless of which specialization you seek, however, there are a few basic musts. You must have excellent math and science skills. If you say, “Oh, that’s not me,” relax. Find a job in or around technology that fits your current background and experience. Even if you are merely assisting those who work with technology, it is a place to begin, after all. Gain the math and science skills you need, taking night school courses if need be. You shouldn’t expect to have superb math skills tomorrow, but you can certainly work towards advanced mathematical knowledge over the course of a decade or so.

You also must stay on top of new developments within your specialization. This means reading professional journals regularly. Every industry has these types of periodicals. (If you aren’t sure what they are called, ask your librarian, ask colleagues for journal titles, or check your library for the Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature.) Staying on top of things also means, most likely, you will be attending courses regularly to stay on top of new developments. You’ll want to budget for this, giving priority to companies who are willing to pay at least part of your training expenses.

Also, be realistic about a particular specialization’s life expectancy, and don’t be afraid to change specialties. That sounds strange, perhaps – after all, doesn’t technology make other areas of life outdated? But think for a moment. There was a time when huge, black-and-white televisions with one to three channels were the only option. Likewise, in careers, there was a time when programmers who specialized in Ada or FORTRAN or COBOL could write their own ticket. But if you walk into a modern tech company today, there may be no one programming in those languages whatsoever. Technology eats its young. Remember that, and when you see that the programming language, protocol, or end product you work on is dying away, reinvent yourself quickly. (This is also another reason to give your continuing education a priority.)

Lastly, if you are successful, you’ll earn a lot of money. Don’t blow it. Technology jobs ride the high highs and the low lows of technology cycles. Open a savings account and stay on a budget. You might be in a specialty that will disappear tomorrow with nary a moment’s notice. Or, the economy will take an unexpected turn, affecting your specialty more than anyone else’s. While all sectors of the economy are vulnerable to this type of mishap, technology careers are particularly precarious, so you’ll want to be sure you can ride out the tough times.

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