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A reader left an interesting comment on one of my posts:

“Can anyone please give me some suggestion? I am just graduated in IS/IT and don’t have work experience in IT field at all. I am thinking to get Oracle DBA training. Do you think having training will give more likelihood of getting a junior DBA job?  Secondly, in your opinion, which IT job would be easy to get just by having a training in a particular field?”

There’s two questions here.  First, no, I don’t think having formal training as a DBA will help get a junior DBA job without experience.  I’ve blogged about why you can’t get a junior DBA job without experience, and to get that experience, you need to spend time doing systems administration or development.

The second question really interested me, though – what’s the easiest IT job to get without any experience?  My first thought is desktop support, which means repairing end users’ computers and helping them solve issues.  A close second might be phone-based support, but I wouldn’t recommend going that route because it may not be easy to transfer into other IT jobs.

But I bet my readers have other good ideas, so I’ll put it out there.  What’s the easiest IT job to get without experience?

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  1. I would have to go with Phone-based support. A lot of large retail companies have help desk for the employees to call. Usually, these are the easiest to get into without a degree/certification.

    With a degree, and no prior experience I would have to say Help Desk/Desktop Support would be second.

  2. i cast a vote for programmer. it’s easy to hand off rote tasks to someone with little to no experience.

    my next vote would be QA tester. give someone the software and ask them if it works. in fact, i believe we should be hiring the baby boomers to give our programs a good look over for usability testing. we would not need to pay top dollar and we would end up with programs/websites that are actually usable.

  3. I started out as an application admin for Actuate reporting systems. Really, any kind of entry level Systems Administrator I is probably going to be the easiest “pure IT” job to get with little to no experience. You follow the troubleshooting script and then call the guy with the root/admin password if your script doesn’t work. Hopefully the guy with the password will help you learn all about why it didn’t work.

    If you don’t mind dealing with angry users/customers with broken computers, help desk support is probably the way to go. But, by the same token, a lot of “pure IT” people aren’t going to take you as seriously because you’re just one of those support guys. I hate saying it, but it happens. Desktop support is the hidden underclass of the IT world.

    Heck, you can always try your hand at being a junior developer analyst at a consulting firm. A lot of the time they’re just thrown to the wolves and expected to learn on their own. Typically customers aren’t paying all that much for them so they don’t expect as much. It can be a great way to learn if trial by fire is your thing.

  4. None. Even the interns at my company have prior and relevant IT experience.

  5. If you’re not already you should be doing some freelance website design, computer building/support and/or do dev work for open source projects.

    Lots of small companies will hire less experienced folks for basic IT support/website maintenance/etc if you show them you have passion and capability to be self motivated.

    Beyond that you just have to hit the pavement and try for any and all jobs you can find until one decides to take a chance on you.

    took me a year and a half when i graduated from college years ago to find a computer gig. I worked at UPS loading semi-trucks for a year while doing freelance website design until i scored my first “real” job. :)

  6. I started out the hard way. After countless attempts to get a job in anything IT related and failing, I decided I had to get experience on my own. Experience was always the one key factor that lost the job for me in the interviewing process. Once I learned that, I set out to find a way to get it without actually having a full-time position in IT. I did this by consulting, forums and just throwing myself into the community. I found the easiest start at the time was web development. We all know if you could spell H.T.M.L. in the 90’s you could get some poor fool to pay you to write a web site.

    After a year or so of that and really hard in the forums and gaining respect and a presence, I then started interviewing again for that, “first job”. Turned out after that point, the first interview I had put me into an application development and analyst position which quickly went down the systems engineering path. The jump from app. development to engineering was only in part of proving my knowledge gained from the consulting and community efforts.

    I also made an effort not only to learn development on my own but to learn networking, hardware and development all at the same time. I still have strong feelings you ahve to know the basis of all the keys to how a system works in order to be successful. That is what brought me down the DBA path. To be a successful DBA I think all of those keys need to be in place.

    So if that elusive first job is causing you stress, take it upon yourself to get the experience that managers and peers really look for in the hiring process.

    -Ted (onpnt)

  7. To answer the question, anything with the word ‘support’ in the title, but I’m kind of shocked to be honest. If you graduate with a 4yr IT degree with no experience whatsoever, I probably wouldn’t hire you. Too many others with experience to choose from.

    • When you had just finished your degree & looking for job & some one said to you ” i can’t hire you since you have no experience” then would you be in IT field now?

      • Alex – I’m not Jeff, but I wanted to respond to it anyway. The majority of folks I work with either don’t have IT degrees, or don’t have degrees at all. I dropped out of college, for example. My first job wasn’t as a DBA – I had to work my way into this field, gradually getting more experience with databases.

  8. I’ll echo what has been said above and add that you should find local user groups and faithfully attend and meet people in the industry. It really is who you know, more than what you know.

    Lastly, I know a few people who got there start right out of college in government positions. In my experience the local, county, and state government IT jobs are don’t pay as well so they have trouble drawing experienced people and are often more willing to hire a recent graduate.

  9. IT Manager! Well, it’s a job that’s not easy to get but when I look at the things that my manager does (drinking coffee, writing e-mail, sitting behind his desk, talking, talking, talking, etc, etc) then you definitely don’t need the experience! ;-)

  10. Depending on the type of documentation and the complexity of the tool used, the documentation role is often viewed as an entry level position. I think of alot of “what’s considered entry-level” will vary by company. For instance, I’ve seen some companies where QA, configuration management/change management and business analyst roles are more senior level positions and then other companies that unfortunately they treat these positions as more junior level.

    As for my own experience, documentation and Y2K is how I spent my early years in IT. Too bad there aren’t any Y2K gigs. This was a great way to get exposure to different aspects of IT (testing, programmming, processes, documentation).

  11. I thank Brent Ozar for such a wonderful website and your very cooperative participation to help me and the rest for giving your valuable answer.

    I liked the post :why you can’t get a junior DBA job without experience because most of the things make sense.

  12. I had just left my job as a Science Teacher and went to work for a company in customer service. I was bored to death with that, so I found a book in the office called “Two Minute Lessons in Excel.” I taught myself Excel and VBA and then revamped the entire ordering system for that company while I was waiting on hold for customers.

    Eventually, they asked me to manage IT. Twelve years later I’m still learning, and have my path all planned out.

    • HAHAHA, that sounds like my early career too. I reworked the hotel company’s budget spreadsheets to use macros and linking, and presto, I was moved into IT.

    • David Stein , can you guide me on what you did exactly . im a home maker with 2 kids and wanting to work. i studied years ago and had also workied in inidia. now in the US and wanting to do a course or associate degree. i desperately need some guidance and help.

  13. It’s interesting to read this and then see this on Mark Cuban’s blog about regulation of unpaid internships. I know that I’ve read many posts about volunteering for non-profits, etc…, to get IT experience and an unpaid internship might work as well, but I guess is illegal.

  14. It depends … on your skills.

    If you know little about computing, I think tester might be it. You won’t be that good, but so many people look at testing as a low level skill. You can be taught to click through an app pretty easily.

    If you have some computer knowledge, PC Support in some fashion (desktop, phone, help desk) is pretty easy.

  15. If Durga’s just graduated from a 4-year college – that college might have a career development center that has ties to local employers. Or professors within the IS/IT department who have contacts in local IT shops. A lot of the time these employers have experience hiring fresh grads for internships (that probably pay next to nothing – as one of my professors told me at the time – his daughter made more working as a grocery store checkout clerk than I did at that first internship) that sometimes turn into full-time jobs. My path to becoming a DBA: Intern (mostly creating logins/passwords), Junior Analyst, Analyst, Junior DBA, DBA

  16. I think the easiest is going to be system administrator. If you have a four year degree and maybe some certification in Microsoft servers, you are qualified for most dot coms as one of the first sys admins to be hired. Usually it’s mostly desktop and end user support, but you’ll be running some of the basic servers like the file server, or maybe even the phone server. That’s your foot in the door. From there you can pretty much go any direction you want, like help out with QA, or help the programmers until they see you can handle whatever (like an apprenticeship). The system administrator generally touches all areas of the business so it’s tends to be a good transitional position.

    Even a lot of DBA’s I know ended up that way by doing general administration first and ended up with the task of running a database.

    If you think about the first position between the end user and computer support, that’s going to be the easiest job to get because no one wants that job. Dealing with end users can suck the life right out you which is why there is high turnover with these positions. A small startup, just starting out is your best target.

  17. The field is so different now than it was 10 years ago when all you had to do was understand what a computer or network was to get an IT job. Like so many others, I fell into my DBA job by way of being an entry level programmer. I was the only other person who understood what a SQL server was, so when the DBA walked, I got the job after having been with the company only a few weeks!
    Realistically, it seems the only jobs available today are help desk/support for little or no experience. I see so many college grads (even WITH certifications) who have to jump in at the call-center or help desk level. My husband is currently one of them, and is just waiting out his 90 day trial so he can hopefully move into the IT department and do so something with the network instead.
    Good luck to you!

  18. Just because you don’t have work experience doesn’t mean you don’t have any experience. Focus on your educational experience and any other personal experience you have in IT (ex: tinkering at home, things you do for personal gratification etc…) Did you have a part time job or internship even somewhat related to IT? If you can focus on the IT aspects of that to show you have even a little experience that might help.

    Also, if you have little experience it means you have to leverage your networking skills even more in order to get your foot in the door and to encourage a hiring manager to take a chance on you. If you have a connection somehow, that can help increase your chances over other candidates and can help land the job.

    Finally, don’t let your lack of work experience limit your search. I found I had the same problem after college (0 years of actual experience, although I did have 2 years of internship experience). Apply for those jobs that require 2-3 years experience, they might be willing to take a risk on someone with less if they can’t pay what the people with 2-3 years require.

    This is what happened to me, initially I filtered out many of the jobs requiring 2-3 years since I didn’t have it, but the first full time job I did get, did ask for 2-3 years, but I applied anyway and got the job! I wonder how many job listings before that I ignored because of this requirement!

  19. I’ve been in IT for almost 20 years. With an IT/IS degree, your commenter shouldn’t have any problems getting a position as a system administrator or a systems/business analyst. The choice really depends on whether they want a primarily technical career track or a more business focused one. These are the better career track positions in IT, and you will gain a pretty broad set of skills that will translate well anywhere.

    If your concern is getting some structured training and knowledge attainment, my advice is to look for a big, established company. They typically have good training and career track programs that will give you a solid base for the future (whether you stay with them or go work for someone else). If you don’t mind traveling 100%, try a consulting company. The bigger outfits (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture, PriceWaterhouse-Coopers, etc.) have excellent training and mentoring programs.

    It took me a while to figure out exactly where I belonged. I used the above strategy (consulting first, then a big oil & gas company). Got tons of great experience and confidence in my ability to be dropped in anywhere and thrive. Not to mention the “branding” these put on my resume. I may have got all of my jobs myself, but I’m sure having those companies on my resume got me in a couple of doors.

  20. Here in Oklahoma, we have GREAT career techology centers, where the students are required to do lots and lots of hands-on exercises. I have seen my Database Technology students quantify those exercises in their resumes and get hired—even as Junior DBAs!!!

  21. If you need experience, get it – any way you can. Donate development to a church, synagogue, charity, etc. Be creative, but get the experience.

    There are still skills out there that are still in demand. For example: Flash. If you can do some Flash dev with AS and some Flex and learn basic some html and some CSS you shouldn’t have any problems getting some work. Those aren’t easy things to learn, but there’s work there. A lot of this work is contract based. You may want to find an IT field , like Flash dev, that is often satisfied by contractors and begin attending a local user group. You should also find out who the nearest Technology Evangelist is and ask them for advice. You also may want to look into iPhone app dev and do some fun projects and try to sell some apps of your own. You may make some money and now you have real dev projects to put on your resume.

    There are lots of MySQL databases out there. You might find ways to get experience with MySQL maintaining Word Press sites and then leverage that into a Jr DBA job later with an Enterprise Database like Oracle or SQL Server?

    People will ALWAYS let you work for free, legal or not. Volunteer to do development for a conference or tech community. You will get experience, network with influential people, and get great references.

    Whatever you do, be active and persevere.

    Good luck!

    Chuck
    @chuckboycejr

  22. When I started in IT, it was fairly easy to find a job without experience. There were such things as entry-level hardware and software jobs. Now, it seems that everyone wants at least some demonstrable experience due to the large number of qualified candidates.

    The suggestion I have given people in the past is to get experience any way you can. Volunteer for your church or a local non-profit. If you want to get into web development, build your own website. If you want to develop software, work on an open-source project. If you want to work with hardware, hire yourself out to small businesses or the guy down the street. Once you have a little verifiable experience under your belt, the job search becomes much easier.

    Oh, and the second most important thing to remember: an entry-level IT position is not glamorous – you will get grunt work that you won’t like, and you don’t get paid a lot. If you go in with the proper expectations, you’ll soon be on your way up into more interesting work.

  23. I started off doing on the road IT support for SME’s. Then I moved onto a “Helpdesk” role for a small software house.

    This actually proved to be a huge opportunity as the developers were keen to hand over the db admin and tsql duties. I originally learned TSQL to appease customers irritated by bugs or expectations of what the system could do.

    As you prove yourself the duties, and pay, improve.

  24. Access developer. In fact, the only time you’re ever likely to become an access developer is when you have no experience. Nobody who has felt its icy breath will ever willingly work with it again.

  25. hi,
    I am graduated as B.Tech engineer.After some years i didnt work.
    Now i started looking for job in the database.I have good knowledge in SQL,ORACLE 9i,10g,11g,PL/SQL.I applied for so many jobs.But i experience is lacking.How can i get the right one?I am ready to work as a volunteer database developer.I am in London.

  26. This industry is just brutal. First I’m told to get a post-secondary education. Then I’m told I must industry certifications. So I bust my ass and spend a small fortune to get my CCNA only to be by every employer advertising a position that I need a minimum of 3-5 years experience. Doesn’t anyone hire and train anymore or is everyone supposed to be born a genius?

    • Zedboo – it’s pretty similar to the legal industry, the medical industry, and the engineering industry. Information technology requires in-depth knowledge, and it’s tough to get that knowledge on the job much like doctors aren’t trained in the hospital without getting a degree first. There was a time during the dot-com boom where you could pull it off, and a bunch of us (me included) did, but those days are long gone.

    • Globalization is also a factor. Many “entry level” DBA tasks are now performed offshore by large International outsourcing outfits like Satyam and entry level jobs in the DBA world in large global corporations simply no longer exist as they once did. That’s a non-trivial amount of jobs.

      They key is “Never Give Up!” as someone once famously said in far darker days than we’re in now.

      You should only be in IT if you love being a geek, and if you do – your passion will help to get you through. If you don’t, get out now and find something you love.

      • Chuck – that’s a great point. Outsourcing has taken a lot of the entry-level, no-experience-required DBA jobs at a price that can be tough for onshore folks to compete with.

  27. Thanks for the reply.Experience is the great thing.I would like to gain it.I am ready to start my career even as a data entry programmer or assistant.

  28. Dear Brent! I am pleased to see you here. I am also a so called IT degree holder. I did it in 2002. After that I joined Call Center industry and said bye bye to IT. Now in 2011 I am jobless and tried to come back to IT but failed miserably. Now I am deep fried and don’t know what to do. I do like programming but I hate the time it takes. I do not like the Network Administrator job. What should I do, I mean I am totally confused. Is there any list of jobs that a idiot like me would do. Should I go to UAE or states and drive a taxi. What should I do please assist. Let me know any technical course or hand work course that I will do. Help me someone!

  29. Dear : Brent Ozar

    I’m also a IT graduate, but i don’t know how to make a Program,but I enjoy field of adobe photoshop… can you help me to start my career, My Question What is the easiest IT Job to apply for.

  30. when i finish my study for it..i work at engineering office as clerk..but its good practice since nowadays we cant have one single path of working…

    about 5-6 month i applied for the same company as I.T engineer assistant..and somehow my manager allowed me to transfer because i know how to buy/manage/ I.T stuff and i also a I.T certificate!….

    about 1 years..i learning a administrator from my engineers.. and its pain in the ass…haha..but my company send me to learn VWWare certificate…

    now I expert in manage IT, knows a administrator and a important guys in our company worldwide because of the VWware..

    just keep moving everyone!

  31. is it really no no to go into Desktop support or IT support? Eventually, I want to go into Networking or Security, or something more real IT but I don’t have any IT experience(except 3months intern as IT support). So… I was thinking getting like A+ certification, since so many company is asking for it.
    Will it be really hard to change the path? or even get a job?
    Should I just build some Android apps to put in my resume insisting I was self-employed and that’s my experience? haha..
    I want to keep moving but I don’t know what to do.

  32. hi i am so much confused that i dont no in wat field i should concentrate on my career can anyone help me plsssssss !!!!!! i just doing my B Tech in IT

  33. I like to learn Web Designing can u say wat are the course i need to study ??? whether it will b useful ???

  34. A little about me, briefly…I’m 24 now. I spent 6 years in the army as an infantryman. I’m currently going to ITT Tech in the Computer Networks field. I’m suppose to get my associates in about a year. Some reason, I really enjoy working/configuring servers, but I really don’t want the network admin job. I work part time with the Department of Homeland Security/Transportation Security Administration (TSA). I’ve been looking for a job and can only find contract/temp jobs. Is it really worth leaving a government job, with benefits, just to get experience at an IT related job, with no benefits? Please help me out. You’re more than welcome to email me at timothypaulnewman@yahoo.com

    • Tim – I hear the frustration in your comment. I can’t tell you what’s worth what, but I’m curious – if you enjoy working with and configuring servers, why don’t you want a network admin job? What’s the job you want?

      • Honestly Brent, I have no idea what kind of job I would like. I’m fairly new when dealing with the IT field. I know I like working on servers. All I hear about the network admin job is that they are the boss. They figure out where cabinets go, what type of a/c they need and where to put it (around the cabinets). And so much more. I’m not a big fan in Linux/Fedora, and I really hate programming. Those 2 classes were not fun at all. What else is left? Security? Information Systems Security and Network Security are my next classes. I’m not exactly sure what to expect in those classes. If they’re about installing PTZ/FTV cameras, I’m not going to like that job either. Running cables is not my thing.

        • Tim – your best bet sounds like you should hook up with a local Windows user group and talk to the folks there about what their jobs are like, and find out what calls to you.

  35. Hello thanks for the great, you the best friends please. Am a student in Uganda Africa am doing computer science and am archiving a certificate. Am real looking for an online job that I can work in my part time time. I have skills in Microsoft office and adobe skills, I will be so glad if I found on. I real need to raise my school payments.

  36. Myself working as an computer teacher since last 14 years. But over there I have taught MS Office, Flash, Scratch, HTML VB, C++, Java and other softwares. I have completed my MCA and BEd also. Due to some unavoidable conditions I have to leave this job and go to NewZealand. But over there I have to pursue my teaching certification again, which will take minimum one and a half year. By that time I will be 41. I don’t know my experience will be fruitful up to which extent. On the other hand I can go for any IT course but I am not very expert in programming and all, so I will start my career from zero at the age of 41 along with a kid. I am highly confused to decide that I must go for teaching or IT course. And if IT than which particular course while if teaching than which particular course. Please give your valuable suggestions.

    • Saivi – unfortunately, we can’t really do personal mentoring in blog post comments. Instead, check out the post above where we dispense this kind of advice.

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