keeping your tech skills fresh: resources all IT professionals should be using

The technology industry quite literally moves at the speed of light. As fast as brightly lit smartphone screens can convey new information and copper wire can transfer data, the world of tech is shifting, growing and changing.

Through constant innovation is great for consumers seeking the newest, fastest, shiniest technology, for the IT professionals responsible for churning out new tech, constant innovation can be a double-edged sword. If you have the stamina to keep up with the latest IT skills, it all but guarantees a wealth of job opportunities. However, it takes a lot of time, effort and initiative to stay one step ahead of the latest technology trends. To excel as an IT professional, you must also be a perpetual student, open to continuing to learn throughout your career.

resources for tech professionals

how can trained IT professionals keep their skills fresh?

online courses

There are lots of resources, both free and paid, available to help the tech-inclined and tech-newbies alike learn a variety of tech skills from coding, to information security, to graphic design, to networking. Whether you’re looking to add brand new tech skills to your resume or brush up on your existing degrees, there are plenty of options for everyone. Some courses are better than others, so always do your research before signing up. Some general resources to consider:

  • MIT Opencourseware: Run by prestigious tech institute, MIT, this resource allows you to tap into high-level computer science and coding courses for free.
  • EDX: Through a variety of educational partners (including Harvard, Berkeley and MIT) EDX offers a variety of high-level computer science and coding courses, for an average of around $50.
  • Udacity: Udacity offers a ‘nanodegree’ program for a small monthly charge, but also boasts an extensive list of free courses to expand your tech skills.
  • Udemy: The courses offered by Udemy are user-sourced so they can be hit or miss. Look for highly rated courses to get the best value. Courses can range from free to over $200 depending on the tech skill you’re learning.

social communities

There’s a huge wealth of information and experts eager to share their knowledge on the web. Seek out social communities that openly discuss and debate the merits of technology trends, coding languages and other relevant tech topics. You’ll gain valuable insights into which emerging trends you should pay attention to, and which ones are little more than fads. Some popular social communities for IT professionals and developers include Stack Overflow, Reddit, SitePoint, CodeProject, Treehouse, and Hacker News among many others.

acquiring new certifications

The IT world runs on certifications. There are thousands of them available from countless software and computing companies including Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Oracle, Cisco and CompTIA. Whatever skills you want to brush up on, rest assured that there is a relevant certification you can obtain to prove your expertise.

One of the reasons that IT certifications are so valuable is because a lot of the time IT jobs are filled by HR teams that don’t understand the intricacies of coding and other technical skills themselves. IT certifications allow them to easily verify your skills. Not sure which IT certifications are right for your specialty? Check out our list in-demand IT certifications of 2016 for some certifications that might be relevant for your career.

attend conferences, workshop and seminars

There’s a never-ending stream of talks, webinars, seminars, workshops and conferences geared toward tech professionals who want to stay up-to-date on the goings-on in the tech industry. Popular technology and IT blogs frequently post lists of ‘must-attend’ conferences and webinars that might be of interest to you. If you’re looking at a more local scale, consider trying sites like meetup.com to find and meet locals with similar interests and goals.  

follow technology and IT blogs

Tech blogs are a great source of information and require very little of your time. Reference top tech blogs like The Verge, TechCrunch, Mashable and Wired to stay informed about what’s happening in the tech industry. If that still sounds like too much effort, most popular sites will allow you to sign up for a weekly or daily digest, and feed the latest tech news right to your email.

Though tech blogs are unlikely to offer detailed resources to improve upon your tech skills, they may provide short tutorials or links to resources that are helpful. At the very least, they’ll provide insights to help you decide what emerging trends you’re interested in learning more about!

Remember not to lose sight of the big picture. Your career in IT is counting on life-long learning. Continuing to learn as your career progresses isn’t just a nice-to-have goal or character-building exercise. In today’s rapidly evolving tech landscape, it’s the key to a fulfilling life-long career.

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