The Minnesota State IT Center for Excellence is here to help make sure you easily understand growing IT career areas and the skills, courses, or certifications you may need to start in that field.

Career Exploration is all about stepping outside of your current understanding and thought process, and exploring all the possibilities out there. It is about taking your Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSAs) and finding the best possible fit. As you begin to explore the many career opportunities available in the Information Technology field, you will start to understand where your strengths lie and what skills and abilities you may still need to attain to be successful. 

 The following provides resources to help you better understand: (1) the careers options available to you, (2) the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful within those career paths, and (3) the industry certifications or professional memberships you should consider exploring as you journey through your educational track.

INFOGRAPHIC:: Minnesota Career Fields, Clusters & Pathways

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity impacts everything we do. From banking to searching the Internet, the need for quality cybersecurity employees is ever growing.

 

Security Policy & Governance

Employees in the Security Policy and Governance sector of Cybersecurity work on strategic programs focused on coercion theory, defense strategies, war fighting, joint or combined operations, and overall governmental security. They are also crucial for corporate security. In this field you will help create best practices in regards to Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs).

This is more of a strategic, rather than tactical, role.

 

Cybersecurity Engineering & Prevention

Security Engineers, also known as Information Security Analysts, work to protect a company’s network. If you are a Security Engineer you will usually (though not always) be part of a larger IT team to implement protective systems such as firewalls, assessing potential threats before they happen. You also should be able to assess and communicate with others in the organization with regards to security threats. Finally, if a breach does happen, you must be willing to address the issue and fix it quickly.

 

Incident Detection & Response

Incident Response employees are responsible for monitoring, identifying, and mitigating any potential threats. Services like threat intelligence, hunting, security monitoring and incident analysis and response are part of the work they do.  Jobs in their area may be called Cyber Security Manager, Information Systems Security Managers, Cyber Incident Manager or Incident Responders. Whatever the title, the job requires superb analytical skills and the ability to rapidly troubleshoot.

Are you Career Ready: As a Minnesota State student you have access to a number of incredible resources. One of those resources is Career Wise Education, a Minnesota State program that allows you to explore careers, plan your education and find a job!

From this site, you have the ability to assess your current skills, investigate career pathways, explore educational options and job markets, and so much more. It is a one-stop shop that will help you determine your career path and goals!

Currently, there are over 1,500 open positions in the security field and less than 200 graduates to fill the need! That gives you a huge opportunity to not only get a job but start a career! (indeed.org)

Want to know more about the different Cybersecurity Career Pathways? Cyber Seek shows you how five common cybersecurity feeder roles lead to current industry roles

Did you know that by the end of 2019 there will be a global cybersecurity professional shortage of nearly 2 million employees? With over 50% of all organizations in need of qualified security personnel, the timing could not be better for those looking to get into the field of cybersecurity.

Having a strong education in cybersecurity is a huge factor in landing your first job as well as moving up within your organization. Along with education, industry leaders are also looking for employees with specific industry certifications that speak directly to personal cyber competencies.

Certifications such as CompTIA (Security +), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Certified Authorization Professional (CAP), and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) can move you forward in your career and solidify your place as a security expert.

Other Certifications to consider:

EC Council

CompTIA

(ISC) 2

ISACA

GIAC

OWASP

CISCO

Palo Alto  Academy

Do you need to connect with people within the industry and don’t know where to start? One great way to get to know the people and organizations within the security arena is to join a security professional organization.

There are many to select from and some that have amazing student rates to join. Joining a professional organization can give you the access you need to like-minded faculty, students and industry leaders who are looking to improve the world of security. You will be able to network and meet new industry connections, find out about the latest research in the area, and develop relationships that can bring about amazing opportunities for advancement.

Data Science & Analytics

A data analyst provides descriptive statistics, visualizing data and communication data points around a specific question. A data analyst also must be skilled with machine learning, using algorithms to learn and forecast future trends with data. Data science is the umbrella of all things data. A data scientist cleans, prepares and analyzes large sets of data (big data) from multiple sources and applies predictive and sentiment analysis to extract critical information to solve for an issue, predict an outcome, or provide insights into critical business decisions.

It is estimated that by 2020 the number of jobs for all U.S. data professionals will increase by over 500%, with a potential of over 2 million positions open!

Are You Career Ready: As a Minnesota State student you have access to a number of incredible resources. One of these is Career Wise Education, a Minnesota State program that allows you to explore careers, plan your education and find a job!
From this site you can assess your current skills, investigate career pathways, explore educational options and job markets, and so much more. It is a one-stop shop that will help you determine your career path and goals!

Currently, Minnesota has an 18% growth rate in open positions in the data field. Although many of these positions require a Bachelor’s degree, there are still a large number of companies looking to hire entry-level analysts as a way to engage eager students in the data needs of the organization! That gives you a huge opportunity to not only get a job but start a career!

The job outlook for Data or Computer Systems Analysts is expected to grow at a rate of 33% or higher between now and 2026.  Data analytics is one of the top five fastest-growing fields with high demand, high growth, and high salaries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor STatistics (BLS), the average salary for a data analyst is nearly $55,000 at the AA and/or BS Level and over $80,000 at the master’s degree level.

Candidates with knowledge and abilities in mathematical and/or statistical understanding and programming languages will excel in these roles.

Gaining industry certifications can be as important as earning your degree, especially when it comes to demonstrating your competency in the analytical or scientific software areas. Having certifications in R, Python, SAS, Oracle Application Server, Access management software, Apache database software, or others are critical. 

Tools & Technology for Computer Systems Analysts

Required Certifications:

As you grow in your field you will want to take advantage of the numerous opportunities you have for networking with other like-minded individuals. Professional conferences, workshops, and organizations are a great way to continue your learning, see the latest advancements in your field, and be part of future discussions and opportunities.

The Data Science Association is a non-profit professional organization of data scientists. Its mission is to serve other members, improve the data science profession by eliminating bias and enhancing diversity, and advance ethical data science throughout the world.

 

MinneAnalytics is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the data science and analytics community in Minnesota, the Upper Midwest, and beyond by providing accessible, authentic and engaging events. We facilitate the sharing of knowledge and ideas among analytics professionals across business, technology, and decision science through our industry-specific conferences and educational events.

Computer Networking

Computer networks are critical parts of almost every organization. Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operation of these networks. They organize, install, and support an organization’s computer systems, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), network segments, intranets, and other data communication systems.

In this field, you might be performing network maintenance to ensure the networks all work correctly with minimal interruptions. Other duties may include installing software and hardware, designing e-mail and other communication programs, testing operational systems, and ensuring that software and network applications are working properly.

 

Job Requirements and Potential Growth

Most positions in this field require a Bachelor’s degree and or 5 years of work experience and have a salary range of $60-150,000. Often these types of positions will be in the Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services, Insurance Carriers, Management Companies, Telecommunications, and/or Administrative and Support Services.  The demand for workers in this area is very high with a growth rate of 6-8% over the next ten years. Currently, there is a projected need of over 3,500 candidates to fill positions in Minnesota.

Are you Career Ready: As a Minnesota State student you have access to a number of incredible resources. One of those resources is Careerwise Education, a Minnesota State program that allows you to explore careers, plan your education and find a job!

From this Site, you have the ability to assess your current skills, investigate career pathways, explore educational options, explore job markets, and so much more. It is a one-stop shop that will help you determine your career path and goals!

Since Q4 of 2017, there has been a continued growth of 30+% for some IT employment needs. It is anticipated that by 2020 there will be a shortage of over 2,500 IT professionals just in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area alone. (Insights for Action)

Employment of network and computer systems administrators is projected to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026. Demand for information technology (IT) workers is high and should continue to grow as firms invest in newer, faster technology and mobile networks. Growth is also expected as the use of IT in healthcare increases.

An Industry certification is a process of program evaluations ensuring that an individual has met the minimum industry knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the tasks of the given certification. It is important to gain certifications in high value areas. Low value certifications are those that require little effort or knowledge and anyone can earn. A high value certification is one that the industry sees as needed and desired in order to prove your personal knowledge, skills and abilities on a given topic or area.

Having high value certifications shows that you are looking to be a leader and high impact contributor to the field.

MN State CAREERwise Education Certifications for Computer Network Architecture

Are you in need of connections within the industry but don’t know where to start? One great way to get to know the people and organizations within the security arena is to join a security professional organization.

There are many to select from and some that have amazing student rates to join. Joining a professional organization will give you the access you need to like-minded faculty, students and industry leaders who are looking to improve the world of security. You will be able to network and meet new industry connections, find out about the latest research in the area, and develop relationships that can bring about amazing opportunities for advancement.

Development

Many people think of software development generically as coding. But this is only the first part of the story. While the writing and manipulation of code is at the heart of developing software, there are a lot of related skills, technologies, and processes developers or software engineers need to master to achieve excellence in their field.

 

Types of Software

Before digging into what it is like to work as a software developer, it is helpful to understand a little about the types of software and systems that developers are usually tasked with creating.  Software applications can include products like: complex business applications, mobile apps, embedded software (inside hardware or equipment), computer operating systems, or even interactive websites. Developers or software engineers typically use a variety of programming languages combined with related servers, technologies, databases, and systems to create a user experience that solves a particular individual or business need.

Sometimes developers specialize in the languages and tools for “front-end development” which is user-facing.  Others specialize in “back-end development” which involves the servers, systems, and databases that support how the front end works. Developers skilled in working on both the front-end and back-end development are called Full Stack developers.

 

Becoming Agile

A lot of attention has been paid recently to the systems and processes developers use to create or maintain software.  Most companies and organizations have moved or are moving away from a project management approach called “waterfalling.” This approach begins with a full articulation of business and technical requirements, and then moves to design, development, testing, and release over the span of weeks, months, or even years.

Agile approaches, on the other hand, are typically organized around collaborative teams that work together to design, prototype, develop and release bundles of features iteratively in short one to two week “sprints.” Features are captured in user stories, and product owners work directly with developers to understand the desired user experience and the technical approach needed to deliver the user experience.

 

Are you Career Ready?

As a Minnesota State student you have access to a number of incredible resources. One of those resources is Careerwise Education, a Minnesota State program that allows you to explore careers, plan your education and find a job! You can also assess your current skills, investigate career pathways, explore educational options, explore job markets, and so much more. CareerWise is a one-stop shop that will help you determine your career path and goals!

Currently there are over 500 open software development positions open and waiting to be filled. That gives you a huge opportunity to not only get a job, but start a career!

Like most professions in the computing and information technology sector, software development is growing faster than average.  In addition to software engineering or development jobs, there are a lot of other technical or information technology positions that require applicants to have knowledge or experience in writing code.  To explore the up-to-date job outlook for software development or related positions, check out:

Students and professionals interested in building a career in software development or engineering are often first exposed to the possibilities by learning some basic web development, coding, or game design on their own.  Software development is one of those areas where individuals with little or no formal training can begin to learn and practice the skills it takes to master this vast and evolving field.

But how do you get started? Take several courses on a free learning website like Codeacademy. You can also open an account on an online coding community or platform like Github and see what other people are creating and which open source projects are looking for help. Explore. Engage. Learn. Try.  Begin building your portfolio of projects or ideas. Start small and follow your own interests. Design a webpage. Develop a basic mobile app. When you are ready, look for some more formalized learning opportunities like those listed below.

If you are looking to develop your coding and software development skills there are a lot of avenues you can take. However, if your goal is to get a job as a developer, you will want to invest some time and energy into getting a recognized credential or degree that will confirm your level of experience and differentiate you from other job-seekers.  Here are some degree options to consider.

Learn more about Software Development Pathways!