Whichever industry sector you’re looking to conquer, whoever your organisation, one thing’s for certain - their level of success will be down to the way they use technology. Great news for IT professionals because that puts you in the driving seat, and with the right IT qualifications behind you, you can go far!

Choose your qualifications wisely - from reputable sources - and they’ll serve you in two important ways. Firstly of course, they’ll equip you with the latest tech skills and thinking. And secondly, having done that, they’ll remain with you on your resume as an endorsement of your competence; instant proof for employers, customers, colleagues and friends.

So which IT qualification should I choose?

Good question. The array of qualifications is vast, ranging from short vendor-specific courses that get straight down to the nitty gritty of a given hardware / software package, to university programmes exploring the very theory of computation.

Whether you’re a bumbling beginner or a savvy pro, there’s always something new to learn in this amazing profession of ours and when it comes to choosing your ideal course, start by asking yourself:

What do I want to learn and why?

This question could also be translated as: where am I in my career, and where do I want to go?

Relatively speaking, our profession is still in its infancy and the traditional progression routes you’ll find in, say, accountancy or teaching simply don’t yet exist. But new career paths are being mapped out by intrepid IT practitioners every day, with some becoming more heavily trodden.

Take business analysis for example - marrying an organisation’s technology investment with business need has never been so important. As a result, BAs continue to grow in number and a BA career path is establishing itself, identifying the various stages in an analyst’s career journey and the development needed to get there.

Typically, stages in a defined career path like this align job roles and responsibilities, with years of experience acquired, and professional certification achieved in the chosen discipline. 

If you’re still standing at the doorway to your career in IT, perhaps even unsure which discipline to follow, you might consider a further or higher education programme. This can give you an overview to computing and programming and a wider introduction to the industry to inform your later career choices.

For non-UK graduates, International Higher Education Qualifications (HEQ) from BCS offer you modular, UK-degree-equivalent programmes of study and essential learning for any budding IT professional.

At this point, you might need to ask yourself a more practical question:

How do I want to study… and how long have I got?

Time is of the essence for all of us, and with most higher education courses lasting at least three years, they’re not for everyone. Fortunately in our personalised, interactive world, there’s a qualification route to suit every study preference - so what’s yours? Do you prefer to go it alone, head in a book absorbing all that lovely new knowledge? Or does it take a hands-on group project for the learning to really sink in?

If it’s a combination of the two, an IT apprenticeship may be your ideal choice. Lasting one to two years, the new digital apprenticeships standards combine practical, on-the-job training in the workplace, with written projects and ‘knowledge module’ exams.

And if you thrive on collaboration, how about a MOOC? Massive open online courses are an increasingly popular way to top up your learning, connecting you with a worldwide community of fellow learners. What’s more, they’re completely free!

However you choose to do it, keeping your professional skills and knowledge up to date is an ongoing commitment in our fast-moving technology industry. Why not head to bcs.org/getqualified now to explore the many IT qualifications and career development opportunities available from BCS.