Essential Guide

Successful career strategies for IT administrators

This essential guide covers everything IT administrators need for a successful IT career, including professional development, important certifications and inspiration from CIO strategies.

Introduction

The exact details of an IT administrator's job description can change, but the one aspect of the job that stays the same is continually taking steps to ensure the IT department is a successful and integral part of the organization. There are three areas IT admins should focus on to reach this goal: career development, certifications and CIO strategy.

The career development process is important for IT administrators because learning about the options they have to improve their individual skills is a vital contribution for success in the IT department.

Certifications are also vital because specific knowledge about the systems in an organization is an essential job function. But the best thing to know is that certifications are most effective when they're combined with real-world experience.

Finally, paying attention to the strategies that chief information officers have used in their organizations can prepare IT administrators for an eventual move to a CIO position. If a CIO job isn't on the radar, knowing about these strategies can still help admins learn different strategies to apply in their current positions.

We compiled the best content from our Win IT and CIO sites to offer a thorough look at different strategies and actions IT administrators can use to take their jobs to the next level. By using our experts' suggestions, IT admins can use their skills and knowledge to create a successful IT department and a successful career.

1Career development-

Career development for IT administrators

One of the best things IT administrators can do to extend their careers is to develop the necessary skills for their jobs. With consistent career and professional development, IT admins can prove they're valuable and knowledgeable assets to their organizations. These steps can be as obvious as making sure they have the most current training for the programs and tools used in their organizations, but admins can also include more precise steps like practicing risk management or improving communication with colleagues. These tips take a look at some of the different career development options IT admins have.

Tip

Communication skills: A make or break factor in your IT career

IT administrators more than likely know the technical part of the job. But there's an even more important part of your job -- people. Work on improving your communication skills if you want to earn the respect of your colleagues and excel in your career. Continue Reading

Tip

Combine certifications, college degrees on the IT career path

IT admins always wonder if college degrees are better than certifications or vice versa. The best thing to know is that potential employers don't see certifications and degrees as either-or propositions: They want their employees to have both. Here's a closer look at what they expect and why. Continue Reading

Tip

Become a leader in IT problem solving: Four steps

The way in which you handle problems during your IT career can have a huge impact on how your career develops. Be prepared every time something tricky comes up and ensure your career success by following these four steps to improve your problem-solving skills. Continue Reading

Tip

Eight questions to ask before a move to C-suite management

Career success comes from understanding what you're good at, what you love and making it happen. If you're looking to get into IT management and the C-suite side of things, make sure you're prepared for the changes that come with this career choice with these eight questions. Continue Reading

Tip

IT risk management: Is it on your list?

You can help your IT career by ensuring you know how to handle risk. Think about the daily IT situations you face and how much risk you're willing to accept. Once you know and act with this knowledge, you'll build on two important career skills: credibility and trustworthiness. Continue Reading

2Important certification info-

Certifications and strategies to get ahead

Certifications are an important part of IT administrators' careers because specific knowledge about an organization's systems is a hugely important aspect of the IT admin job description. Keeping up with the latest in certifications is also important. For example, it's good to know that certifications for the cloud are gaining in popularity because of the growing skills gap for IT pros who have cloud training versus those who don't. Even so, being certified in something won't automatically make you an expert. That expertise comes from building on your certification knowledge with real-world job experience. These tips cover how IT pros can get the most out of their certifications.

Tip

Advance your cloud skills and jump the gap

There's a growing shortage of IT pros with cloud skills even though the demand is growing, so now is the time for IT administrators to work on getting certified in the cloud. The good news is that there are plenty of options to choose from, but you need to know which certifications are the best fit your organization and your career goals. Continue Reading

Tip

Consider Microsoft's MCSE Private Cloud, new virtualization certifications

One of the certifications Windows admins should seriously consider is the MCSE Private Cloud. It covers Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V and System Center 2012, but it also includes important applications, such as Exchange and SharePoint. Continue Reading

Tip

How to judge value of information technology certifications and degrees

There's a dangerous assumption in saying degrees or certifications are the ticket to getting ahead. Certifications are important, but they aren't everything. Learn why it's important for IT administrators to strike a balance between being certified and having real-world experience. Continue Reading

Tip

Microsoft Second Shot gives IT pros free exams retakes

Studying for certifications can be stressful, especially when taking cost into consideration. But this Microsoft promotion lets IT administrators retake certain certification exams for free before May 2014 if they don't pass on the first try. This tip tells you how to sign up for Second Shot. Continue Reading

Tip

Finding free Microsoft certification training

The only thing IT administrators could like better than cheap certification training is free certification training. Some options IT administrators can consider are Jump Start training sessions from some of Microsoft's best instructors, Windows Store Apps and free e-books. Continue Reading

3Essential CIO knowledge-

IT and business management for the CIO

An important part of IT administrators' jobs is following their company's overall vision as well as the goals their CIOs have established. If IT admins work hard enough, they may even be in the CIO position one day. They can prepare for that eventual role -- or use strategies in their IT admin position that successful CIOs use -- by learning about the current topics and strategies getting attention in the CIO realm. Recognizing that key ideas can come from anywhere and anyone in a company may hold a piece of essential knowledge are important, as is understanding the ways in which CIOs can continue to stay relevant in their organizations. These tips take a look at successful strategies CIOs have used in their organizations and the innovative ways in which they've improved their job roles.

Opinion

CIO innovation management: How to tap the collective IQ

A CIO should recognize that good ideas can come from anywhere and anyone in the company, so it's important to put strategies in place to encourage those ideas to come to fruition. Take a look at a few companies that have tried these strategies to find new ideas with positive results. Continue Reading

Feature

The CIO secret to strong leadership: Going to extremes

Strong CIOs aren't afraid to go to extremes to keep their leadership as effective as possible. This includes using "dark side" tactics, according to Gartner analyst Tina Nunno. In her new book, she says today's CIOs should be strategic and think like the gray wolf to give their companies a competitive technology advantage. Continue Reading

News

IT as a competitive advantage: A CEO's view on how to stay relevant

TDS Telecommunications CEO Dave Wittwer uses his 30 years of experience to discuss four ways CIOs can stay relevant in their organizations. He recommends using plain language to discuss risk, being flexible with the budget, understanding business across the management team and giving the organization options to accomplish goals. Continue Reading

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Palo Alto CIO adopts Lean Startup methodology in cutting-edge initiative

CIO Jonathan Reichental came in during a restructuring period, which allowed him to take a risk and adopt the Lean Startup methodology to speed up decisions for technology and provide better transparency with an expansive open government initiative. This is why Reichental won SearchCIO's 2013 IT Leadership Award for customer experience. Continue Reading

Feature

Tactical and strategic health care CIO navigates industry turmoil

Deanna Wise, CIO and executive vice president of San Francisco's Dignity Health, won SearchCIO's 2013 IT Leadership Award for technological advancement. She was chosen for her leadership for insourcing a number of services and overseeing a $2 billion software implementation. Her Q&A details her leading a rapidly changing company. Continue Reading