Transitioning Careers from Human Services to Entry Level IT

Science!Science! Registered Users Posts: 5 ■■■□□□□□□□
edited May 2019 in IT Jobs / Degrees
Hello everyone,

Hopefully I'm not beating too much of a dead horse here as I know these sorts of threads are remarkably common from my searching.

I have roughly ten years of experience in the human service industry working with people with Developmental Disabilites. Most of this has revolved around group home/ direct care positions. For the past year, I have been working in a more administrative position managing a caseload of individuals, ensuring service/benefit continuation,  writing plans and conducting meetings with clients and their service teams. A lot of my job revolves around scheduling meetings, managing multiple priorities and essentially maintaining the level of care they need. I've had a good amount of exposure to Basic HIPPA and the regulations surrounding it (mostly from a "boots on the ground" sort of perspective, as well as a fairly good understanding of the needs of human services agencies and non profit organizations in that field. I'm looking for a change of pace and have been a hobbyist with IT for probably the past decade or so, playing with various flavors of Ubuntu and Windows on my own, building/repairing my own and family systems etc. I have a very basic knowledge of Python and some other languages, but nowhere near anything useful at this point.

I'm currently studying for the A+ 1001 and hope to finish out the cert within the year. I have a BA in Psychology (AAS in Liberal Arts-Social Science as well) and no other real credentials outside of my experience in my current field, so I'm looking to try to leverage this experience into a career in IT if at all possible.  I'm not really concerned with starting from the bottom, as I'm not really too deep in my career at the moment, currently making about 40K gross. So long as I can survive on whatever I make, I'm good.

Are there any particular certifications I could get to complement my experience in human services? Perhaps relating to Health IT/ HIPPA? My current agency is under DOH in my state, as well as some other regulatory groups for folks with ID/DD, which leads me to think I can fit that into my resume and apply to non-profits/HS agencies to get a foot in the door.

I'm also considering a move to Texas (notably the DFW area) to be closer to some friends, and I'm likely planning this within a year or two. If I were to get a help desk/ desktop support position and leave the position in 6 months to a year, would that be frowned upon in the industry after the move? I know people change positions often in IT, but I want to make sure I won't be shooting myself in the foot if I manage to get a position in IT in my current city and then move in 6 months and look as if I am job-hopping. The rest of my resume shows dedication to the companies I've worked with, with my only real move being a state-mandated move to a different agency due to regulation changes.

TL;DR: How can I leverage my non profit/human service experience outside of pointing out my soft skills? Are there certifications or other professional development options I should consider? What length of employment is typically necessary to not seem flaky to employers if I were to try to find a position before moving cross-country? The move would likely require me to make ~15/hr, but I'm told from a friend in a position in DFW that this salary is relatively easy to find in the area. Most agencies in my area don't seem to have internal IT and instead contract with other companies to cover their support needs, so I don't know how I would directly leverage my experience outside of targeting myself towards NP/HS providers. Should I wait to make the career change until after I move? Or would any experience be beneficial, regardless of whether I left in 6 months to a year?

I will also likely be losing access to the people I know within the DD field, though outside of supervisors and colleagues, I'm not too deeply entrenched in my field to begin with aside from length of service. I sort of fell into it and it's not really engaging to me anymore. I don't really know too many folks in the IT field in my current area either, so there isn't a professional network that I have here either.

Edit: Thank you for any help you folks can offer. Just looking for as much advice as I can get in the meantime while I consider my options. I accidentally posted this while trying to add tags before I could write this. Whoopsie.


  • paul78paul78 Member Posts: 3,016 ■■■■■■■■■■
    Hello and welcome to TE. I have a family member who lives in a group home so I have the utmost respect for the type of work that you do. And I'm sure that there will be other hiring managers who would also find your background and experience to be valuable to their organizations.

    I think you have the right idea with starting with the A+. I can't speak about the DFW area but I do understand that there is a healthy tech environment so I'm sure you will be able to enter IT without too much trouble. 

    My only suggestion is that you absorb and learn as much as you can. Certifications are a nice structured approach to learning but definitely lab and explore.

    Good luck to you!

  • ps.89ps.89 Member Posts: 47 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I believe you made a great decision for wanting to get into IT! Although it's possible to get in the IT door with what you have so far, A+ seems to be the best bet for most people in your shoes. In my opinion, tier 1-type jobs are usually abundant in most places.
    2021 Year Goals: CCNP Enterprise Core; finish a Python video course
  • Infosec_SamInfosec_Sam Admin Posts: 527 Admin
    Welcome to TechExams - we're glad to have you! Like @paul78 said, you're on the right track with the A+, and certifications are definitely the way to go when you're just starting out. After that, you can choose whether you want to go into networking, system administration, or security (or a mix of everything!). That's really when IT opens up for you to follow any path you like. To answer your question about job-hopping, I don't think leaving after 6-12 months will have any negative effect on your employment chances. That job-hopping stigma really only revolves around people who have hopped 3+ times within a span of a couple years. I've also heard that Dallas has a great IT market, so you shouldn't have much of an issue there. 

    One thing that you might want to consider is familiarizing yourself with security awareness, and what that looks like from an IT standpoint. I know a lot of places just have someone on staff who runs these security awareness campaigns, so that could be a value-add that you bring to the table if you're looking to specialize. It doesn't really require any super technical IT know-how, just some solid soft skills, which it clearly sounds like you have.

    Anyways, good luck in these next few months/years, and welcome to IT! You'll have to keep us posted on your progress!
    Community Manager at Infosec!
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  • Science!Science! Registered Users Posts: 5 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Thanks for your replies everyone. I've applied to a handful of IT positions, but unfortunately haven't had an interview yet. I've mostly been focusing on the studying for the exam so I can at least show some technical proficiency.

    Good to know the job hopping stigma wouldn't be too much of a concern. I'm hoping the entry level IT (as well as playing around with things on my own) will let me figure out what interests me more. I've built my own systems and set up my home router, but that's about it so far. I did build a system for the guys in the group home I worked at and tossed Linux on it for them. Never did get that printer to run, but my manager wasn't happy with the amount of time I had been spending on it, heh. Turns out Kodak printers don't play well with Ubuntu.

    A friend of mine had turned me on to the Google IT Support Professional certificate, so I might scope that one out as well, though it's pretty much brand new and few employers are looking at it. The free college credits wouldn't hurt though. for the future.

    Still plugging away at it. Finally bought the voucher and have yet to schedule the exam.  Found a few interesting positions I might shoot for in the meantime. Will certainly keep you all posted on how things go.

    Thanks again folks!
  • cyberguyprcyberguypr Mod Posts: 6,927 Mod
    I hate to be that guy but it's HIPAA, not HIPPA. Bringing this up because if I see it wrong in a resume I immediately toss it. 
  • mikey88mikey88 Member Posts: 495 ■■■■■■□□□□
    I hate to be that guy but it's HIPAA, not HIPPA. Bringing this up because if I see it wrong in a resume I immediately toss it. 
    What a savage.
    Certs: CISSP, CySA+, Security+, Network+ and others | 2019 Goals: Cloud Sec/Scripting/Linux

  • DatabaseHeadDatabaseHead Member Posts: 2,751 ■■■■■■■■■■
    mikey88 said:
    I hate to be that guy but it's HIPAA, not HIPPA. Bringing this up because if I see it wrong in a resume I immediately toss it. 
    What a savage.
    What about HIPPO?  Does that get tossed as well?
  • Science!Science! Registered Users Posts: 5 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Heh, ironically I did change it after seeing your post. I've been busy studying for the A+ with the Certblaster practice tests so I haven't gotten back here in a bit.. I actually had an interview with a local helpdesk company that provides software support to state agencies. Not sure if I want to take it, as the company has some mixed reviews and there aren't any opportunities to move into actually doing break/fix of any actual systems. Sounds like the majority of it would be resetting passwords and providing really basic support to proprietary software systems. I haven't had an offer yet, but the interview was only yesterday. I did leave my current position to pursue my A+ as I feel like I can finish both exams quicker and secure a help desk role relatively quickly. There were some personal factors that went into the decision as well, but I am in a position where I'm able to do it, so I'm planning to take the exam 8/2/19 and will hopefully have some good news for you all then.

    Thanks for the tips, all. I greatly appreciate the help. And anyone has any more comments or suggestions to try to make myself more marketable for the career change, I'd be glad to hear them.

  • Jon_CiscoJon_Cisco Member Posts: 1,772 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Don't be afraid to take the low level offer just make sure you don't get comfortable and stay there. The first job is always the hardest one to land.
  • yoba222yoba222 Member Posts: 1,237 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Yeah first IT job in a career transition, and I recommend taking just about anything IT related just to get that paragraph on the resume. Then, starting at month 3 or so, begin sending out resumes for the next several weeks while being a bit more selective and patient about it. That's how I changed careers. First job is a throwaway job.
    A+, Network+, CCNA, LFCS,
    Security+, eJPT, CySA+, PenTest+,
    Cisco CyberOps, GCIH, VHL,
    In progress: OSCP
  • Science!Science! Registered Users Posts: 5 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Hey everyone,

    Just a quick update. Passed my 1001 with a 718/900 this morning. Accepted that offer for the software support role as well. I definitely appreciate all of the advice with this career change. I'm sure I'll be around more as I study for the 1002 and move forward with my career change. Hopefully I'll have some of my own advice to contribute in the near future.

    I'm planning to commute by train and using the time to read for the 1002 in the morning, so we'll see how that goes. Thanks again folks!
  • Jon_CiscoJon_Cisco Member Posts: 1,772 ■■■■■■■■□□
    thanks for the update! Keep up the good work.
  • Science!Science! Registered Users Posts: 5 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Hey ya'll,

    For whatever reason, I was thinking about this post the other day and thought I'd give an update.

    Ended up snagging a job doing Contact Center support after 6 months in the call center role which moved into T1/T2 support. It's been...well, a hell of year but I just wanted to thank ya'll for the advice. It's been a hell of ride and I have gotten to see the company grow from a "wild west" IT to a more structured department which has been really enlightening. Hopefully everyone's weathered the pandemic well.

    Appreciate the support!
  • itdeptitdept Registered Users Posts: 270 ■■■■■■□□□□
    Thanks for the update and good luck
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