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It’s no secret that the fastest growing career field is in IT. You hear about it and read about it all the time. The American work force is transitioning out of the blue collar and manual labor sectors and into the fields of IT and other tech-based sectors as the recession and its effects start to wear off. The fastest growing specialty within the tech sector is in Information and Data Security. This is because more and more business professionals are seeing the need to implement business antivirus and network security systems. For many entrepreneurs and small businesses, this is as easy as the installation of simple but highly supported software. Sometimes, when a small business owner loves his antivirus software, he might want some extra security in place just in case. That is where you, the IT guy or girl, will come in. Whether you are employed by a consulting firm or are in charge of keeping a single company’s network secure, as someone who works in IT Security you are going to be spending the majority of your day in front of a screen. You will work in a variety of programming languages and will analyze data and code for potential risk factors and holes. If you’re in charge of the networks, you’ll fix those problems and holes and neutralize the risk factors using software programs and code that you may design yourself. One of the most common things people hear about IT security is that it is a hands-on field. This means that while you definitely want to take at least some classes in computer science and programming while you’re in school, this isn’t a field that requires advanced degrees to help someone be competitive. This is a field in which practical experience matters more than classroom grades. It’s also one of the few fields in which a background in hacking is seen as a good thing instead of a reason to be wary. That said, there are some things that you’ll want to make sure you understand before you come sit down for an interview:

  • You’ll want more than just a passing level of knowledge of programming languages and operating systems. Learn Windows, Mac OS and Linux programming languages backwards and forwards.
  • Know how to build a network with your own two hands both virtually and practically. This means that you should feel just as comfortable in front of a mess of cables as you do a keyboard.
  • Know how to build your own computer from the ground up.
  • Understand software mechanics and keep current with the field.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the field of “Information Security Analysts, Web Developers and Computer Network Architects” has a faster than average growth rate of 22%. The average salary for someone in this field clocked in at around $75K a year in 2010. That’s not bad at all for a field you can enter with only a Bachelor’s Degree (a statistic that is shrinking more every year). According to CNN Money, the IT Security Consultant makes, on average, $102K per year and the field has a projected grow rate of almost 28% over the next ten years. So, seriously: IT is the field to explore if you want a career that you can jump into right away for a decent wage straight out of school…or even transition into after being out in the workforce for a while. It's a great way to avoid being part of a high level of youth unemployment.

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