There is an intense interest on the part of TechRepublic members about what is more beneficial for an IT career: certs or degrees. According to the results of the TechRepublic 2008 IT Skills and Salary Report, if you're limiting your thinking to those two variables, you're missing an important piece of your career potential.
One of the report's key findings was that multi-tasking, breadth of experience, and business skills are becoming more important for the IT professional:
Rare are professionals who concentrate exclusively on mainframe or vendor-specific work. It's not uncommon for a network administrator to multi-task, linking Microsoft Vista through Cisco routers against a Linux-based server. As well, we've seen an increase in the popularity of business skills, including project management.
While deep technology knowledge is a given for an IT pro, whether you get it through certs or a formal degree, know that every IT department in the world has to manage projects and constantly reevaluate business priorities and how they will impact IT. And for all of those projects, you must be able to communicate with other business units. The more you understand the business needs and direction, the better your decisions will be, and the more money you will save in your IT initiatives. Exercising business savvy is a great way to move up in the organization.
How do you become business savvy?
There are a few ways to do this. To get started, you can:
- Find formal training: There are many online courses available, such as those offered by Brainbench (business writing, editing, office procedures, telephone etiquette, Internet research, business tools); FranklinCovey (project management, leadership, time management, etc.); or you can enroll in a traditional course in a classroom format.
- Read books: Here are some business books to look into.
- Start out small: Take on smaller projects that will give you a trial-by-fire or volunteer for a corporate project that aligns with a course you're taking. Here are 10 things you should know about managing IT projects.
- Find a mentor: Is there someone in your company who seems to have the right combination of technical skills and business savvy? If so, ask if you can meet with him or her on a regular basis, or consult with them when you have the need.
To download TechRepublic's 2008 IT Skills and Survey Report, click here.
Toni Bowers is the former Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.