Career Change to IT - anyone done it?

Hi all,

I'm giving some thought to a bit of life planning at the moment.

I work for a large NHS Trust at the moment. However, I don't particularly enjoy it, there's very little scope for development and I can't see myself doing it for another 30 years. My skillset is somewhat marketable, but doesn't lend itself to self-employment, unfortunately.

I haven't identified a specific role yet - "something with computers" is about the best I can articulate, but I'm leaning towards something in the line of systems analysis or administration, rather than software engineering or hardware tech'ing.

I'm perfectly happy to go back to school, although it'd be on a part-time basis (already got one degree and I can't self-fund another one). The two key issues I'm grappling with, at the moment, are academic vs vocational quals, and how to bootstrap the experience necessary to get into industry.

How important are academics? I'd have thought that in lieu of a long track record, a solid generalist ICT/Computer Science degree would be the entry level tickbox. OTOH, there's a whole wealth of specialist qualifications - CCNA, MSCE, RHCE etc. I'd expect to acquire both over time, but where to start? Obviously I'd need to isolate a specific line of work to start nailing down the spec quals.

Experience - the jobseeker's worst enemy. How? There's only so much I can do for myself and sooner or later, I'm going to have to break into the world and work for someone else to establish a track record. Any suggestions?

Big post, but hopefully someone will have a bit of insight to offer.

I changed 'career' to work in IT 11 years ago aged 30. I was a lorry driver and decided to pursue a vocation with more opportunities. I started by doing an IT qualification, in my case this was MCP Windows 2000, from there I targeted jobs which suited my lack of 'commercial' experience - local further education college. Two years on from there I got a job with a top law firm and trebled my salary in 5 years ( although I seem to have hit a ceiling right now just under the 40% rate so may need to specialise in one area to progress further).

In short, gain an IT qualification such as MCTS (Windows Server 2008 ) if you want to go down the route of Sytems Admin, or CCNA if you prefer a networking slant (switches, routers, etc). Oh, and realistic salary expectations as you will be starting from scratch - at least for a year or so.
I got into IT / telecoms 12 years ago, gained MCP and Cisco quals, worked for both public and large private sector outfits.
However the last 2.5 years for myself have been a total disaster, in short contracts have dried up and rates driven down. I wouldn't advise anybody to get into this industry at the present time, plenty of lads I[ve worked with have had to leave the industry completely.
Don't believe any of these so called training companies claiming you will be on £40K after taking their course, there's a massive surplus of highly experienced guys out there fighting for a handful of jobs. Sorry to sound all doom and gloom but this has been the reality for me, good luck in what ever you decide.

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