If you are still in High School and want to get prepared for an IT career there are some things you can start working on to make yourself more successful in that career area.
The first thing is to start taking High School computer courses if any are available at your school. Sometimes High Schools have agreements with local colleges so Jr. and Sr. students can take college classes while you are still in HS. If your HS has a computer club that is a good idea also. If your school has a computer lab find out how you can volunteer to work in the lab and help the instructor. Many High Schools will offer courses in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and other office applications. I would encourage you to take these courses. Part of IT is being able to convey your ideas and so being proficient in all those applications will be very useful. High schools often have agreements with local junior colleges to allow junior or senior students to take college courses for HS credit. This would be a way to get some intro Programming classes under your belt.
Go out and start looking at study materials and sample test questions for the CompTIA certification tests. There are many web sites where you will find sample questions. Eventually when you feel ready you will want to take the 2 A+ certification tests and get that cert. When you are old enough this will help you get a better job at a large computer retailer like Best Buy or Staples. This may not sound like a big deal but just remember some of your friends may still be working in fast food.
There are two main computer areas of study: Programming and General IT studies (Networking, Computer Security, Systems Administration, etc). You will need to decide which one is best for you. Many people think programming sounds like a good major and career until they realize it involves advanced math courses. If you are poor at math, Computer Science/Programming will be more difficult for you. However, don’t be discouraged as there are many IT jobs that don’t require programming advanced math. Here are some of those non-Programming jobs.
Computer Technician, Service Center Coordinator, Help Desk Staff, Storage Administrator, Network Administrator, Systems Administrator, Systems Engineer, Enterprise Administrator, Active Directory Administrator, Exchange and Messaging Administrator, Backup Administrator, Disaster Recovery Specialist, Database Administrator, Computing Security Specialist, Corporate IT Acquisition Specialist and Data Center Administrator, just to name a few.
In a small business the list above might be one or two people doing all these jobs. In a large Enterprise environment this could be hundreds of people.
If you are not sure if you want to go to college I will tell you there are a lot of reasons – actually a million reasons. The most recent salary study shows a 4 year college degree graduate will earn $1 million more than a HS grad over their lifetime. I’ve given you a link to salary studies that discuss this. There are two main goals that you want to accomplish while in college: 1. Get good grades 2. Save money on your education. Even if your parents have the capability to help you pay for your education, saving money is still wise. Going to a 4 year school can be expensive and for some students they may not be able to adjust easily to the more difficult courses and additional homework. Look into attending a 2 year local Junior College or Community College near your home. This will ease you into college easier and will be less expensive. At the end of two years you will earn a 2 Associates degree. After you complete that you should transfer your credits to a 4 year school and finish out year 3&4 of your degree. Some colleges will offer what is called a “degree completion program” and this may compress the two years of college courses into 14-16 months. At the end of that you will have a 4 year Bachelor’s degree. Try to find schools that will allow you to live at home. Living in student housing is very expensive. The last thing you want is to graduate from school with a huge student loan to pay off or a huge loan you hope your parents will help you pay off.