5 reasons to start your IT career at a community college

If you’re thinking about a career in information technology, the best pathway may be closer, more affordable, and faster than you think. Check out these top reasons to choose an IT career—and why you should launch your journey at an Arkansas community college.

1. IT skills are in demand by employers across all industries
Information Technology is among the fastest growing career fields in the country. Nationally, IT jobs are projected to grow 12 percent by 2028, and growth is even higher for certain occupations like information security and software development. A recent survey of 160 Arkansas businesses identified technology and computer proficiency as the top technical skill sought in job applicants. And it’s not just tech companies that seek employees with these skills—think healthcare, financial services, education, manufacturing, transportation, retail, and many more.

2. Community college is the best choice to launch an IT career
You don’t have to go to college for four or five years to start a career in IT. Across the state of Arkansas are 22 conveniently located community colleges offering remote learning options, flexible scheduling, small classes, tuition less than half of a four-year university, and scholarship opportunities. You can save money by living at home, or you can attend classes part-time while you work. In two years or less, you can get the skills you need to stand out in the crowd and land your dream IT job.

3. Community colleges offer IT training in many areas.
Coding, cybersecurity, computer networking, computer repair and maintenance, Cloud computing, gaming, software development, web and mobile app development, information services, computer-aided drafting—they’re all available at Arkansas community colleges. You can also earn specific industry credentials such as Cisco Certified Networking, CompTiaA+ Networking and Security, and Amazon web services. These skills can lead to jobs with starting average salaries from $28,000 to $32,000 per year.

4. Personal skills are also essential to a successful IT career
In addition to technical skills, employers look for job applicants with a strong work ethic, plus skills in communication, teamwork, time management, and critical thinking. Employers know that professionals with effective personal skills make the best long-term employees and are better prepared to handle increasing levels of responsibility (think pay raises and promotions). Community colleges design IT training programs to embed these personal skills in assignments, hands-on projects, and work-based learning.

5. A career in IT requires ongoing training to stay up to date on skills
The world is changing faster than ever, and so is the field of Information Technology. Community colleges provide ongoing training to help you stay current on the latest developments. These classes can be as short as a single day, or longer depending on the depth of the training. Whether you’re new to the field or a career veteran, upgrading skills to keep up with the changing IT world is essential to your continued success.

Dr. Collin Callaway is Senior Policy Director, Arkansas Community Colleges.

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