Which skills do you need in IT? What are your IT education options?
The path to a successful Information Technology career begins with careful planning and informed decision making. Base your education goals on research you've done to understand the skills you need for an IT career and the education options available.
It takes more than great technical skills to succeed in IT. Build your success by gaining the right competencies and skill sets.
How can technically brilliant people hit a dead end in their career?
Sometimes it's because they lack foundational skills we all need to function in the workplace. The IT Competency Model helps businesses, workers and students better understand what makes a competent IT worker.
What Is a Competency Model?
A competency model is a collection of skills, knowledge, abilities, and other personal characteristics. Together, they enable successful performance in a particular job. Competency models are used in human resources for recruitment and hiring, training and development, and performance management.
Why Is a Competency Model Important to Me?
Competency models are developed by industry leaders. They outline the expectations businesses have for their workers. As a student, job seeker or career changer, you should review competency models as part of your career exploration. They will help you to understand the soft and technical skills and knowledge a worker is expected to have in that particular industry.
Take a look at the IT Competency Model.
The Model may appear complicated at first. But it will enable you to make better decisions about building the skills needed for your IT career. This interactive version links to competency block definitions and occupational competency profiles.
- Download the industry model and worksheets in several formats.
What IT Employers Are Really Looking For
Minnesota IT Employers Speak from various regions of the state. They reveal what they are looking for in their new hires and current workforce, the skills and experience employers need but are not finding, and how educational institutions can help to address these gaps. Employers' spoken quotes are organized into general themes and issues.
Find out Why Skills Are Important, and how to gain or improve your skills.
There are a variety of ways to develop the competencies outlined in the Competency Model. The skills you need can be gained by enrolling in one of the many high-demand programs at a Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) school.
Available programs related to Information Technology offer certificates, associate's, bachelor's, and graduate degrees that match employers' needs.
If you want a long-term career in IT, and aim to advance into leadership and management roles, make sure that the credential you earn is "stackable." A stackable credential will count towards earning a higher degree at a later date. This is very important if you can only complete a one- or two-year degree for now. For example, an associate's degree often counts towards the first two years of a four-year bachelor's degree. Not all certificates, diplomas, and degrees are stackable. Before you enroll, make sure the credential you are earning will stack by checking the admissions requirements and transfer policies of the school that offers the next degree you want.
Locate IT options at MnSCU with these Education Search Tools:
- All MN Regions: programs and courses
- Search by type of award:
- Explore IT-related majors (fields of study), and certifications.
What is it really like to get an IT education?
Before you invest time and money in your education, be sure of your choice. This includes a postsecondary training program in IT. A former or current student can tell you what they liked about the program they chose, how well it prepared them for a career, and tips for successfully completing the program.
Meet Wan-Ju Chen
My name is Wan-Ju Chen. I am in my second year in the Management of Information System master program at Metropolitan State University. I graduated with an MIS major in Taiwan and worked for a while to gain experience, which led to my decision to pursue a higher degree. Fortunately, I attended an information session and found Metropolitan State University not only offers affordable tuition but also a decent class size that allows good interaction with professors and other students. The students in my program are mostly working adults and I enjoy working with them in group projects and hearing their perspectives and insights. Read Wan-Ju's full testimonial.
Information and Computer Science (ICS) Student
"What's great about the Computer Science program and likely any IT program at Metro State is that you are walked through the entire complicated process from the ground up. I was like most of us: I could operate Windows and the Mac OS with related software, but the underlying code was a total black box."
Jared Johnson is currently enrolled at Metropolitan State University as a junior in the Information and Computer Science (ICS) program. Want to hear more about Jared's experiences? Interested in knowing what Jared has to say about the ICS program? Read Jared's full testimonial.
Computer Information Systems Graduate
Nancy Lee is a 2008 honors graduate of the computer information systems bachelor's program at Metropolitan State University. Pursuing an IT career was not an easy or quick process for Nancy. Perhaps this is why one of her favorite quotes is from Calvin Coolidge: "Patience and determination alone are omnipotent." Wondering what it's like to be in a computer information systems program? Interested in hearing more about Nancy's journey? Read Nancy's full interview (153KB, .pdf).
No matter what your political leaning, having the chance to work on the technology to support the 2008 Republican National Convention as an IT student would be a life-altering experience. Joy Das, a student in Inver Hills Community College's CISCO Certified Network Associate (CCNA) program, knows that first hand. Want to hear more about Joy's experiences? Interested in hearing more about what Joy does in the CCNA program? Read Joy's full interview (151KB, .pdf).