I’m currently unemployed and want to make a career change into IT. I’m also an amateur, but accomplished, painter, photographer, and enjoy making home movies of my family. I like using technology, but I am not well schooled on the topic. What would you suggest?
The combination of heavy artistic ability and light technical skill can be extremely profitable. To do so, however, you will need to expand your technology background based on which of the following jobs sounds most interesting to you. As you will see, these are all great potential jobs, but require different types of technical skills.
Web designers, as the title implies, design the look, feel, and flow of websites. For you to perform this job correctly, given your artistic background, the use of color and visual design would most likely be very natural to you. The key things you would need to learn would be:
- An understanding of website navigation best practices
- Ideally, a working knowledge of HTML. This would allow you to design web pages in their native format as well as gain an appreciation of what is easy and hard to technically create
- A strong working knowledge of Photoshop and/or other graphical-related software
- An appreciation for web development. I am by no means suggesting that you learn to do it, but having an understanding of the processes and challenges will allow you to better design websites that are both functional to use and cost effective to build.
Video designer and producer
Videos have become the gold standard in web-based marketing, eLearning, website enhancement, web-based advertising, and other similar online activities. That said, professional speakers, advertising agencies, training companies, web design firms, and other businesses are all using in-house and/or contracted videographers to produce web-based content. Given your interest, and presumed ability in making quality movies, the hurdle for you is to develop a working knowledge of industry standard video editing software for both Apple and PC type computers. Also, if you want to do freelance in this area, you will most likely need your own video camera and lighting equipment.
Flash automation designer
Flash is like a video, and in some cases, is simply converted video content. It may, however, also be created using a number of other tools, technologies, and processes. For example, my company’s IT management training company uses the advanced automation features in Microsoft PowerPoint to create our eLearning materials, and then use iSpring Presenter to convert it to flash. There are also a number of other great tools by Adobe and other software vendors that you can use in the Flash creation process.
Green screen production designer
This is a technology/process that is continuing to gain popularity. It’s basically using the same technology that is used on TV to give the weather report. This technology is being used more and more in everything from web-based training materials to the advertisements you see pop up on your computer when you visit various websites. To do green screen work properly, you need an understanding of video production (described earlier), lighting and the software needed to blend captured video with the desired green screen background (which may also be video). From a technology perspective, there are various industry standard technologies available on both Apple and PC computers that allow you, with a little practice, to fairly easily create green screen productions. Also, if you want to do freelance in this area, you will most likely need your own green screen (generally lime green colored cloth), video camera and lighting equipment, and a place to produce it.
This potential job option is very different than those previously described. This job, as the name implies, is the process of presenting data in graphical ways that help make data easily intelligible. This includes the use of standard data presentation vehicles, such as pie charts and line and bar graphs. At first glance, this may seem rather simplistic, but to do it right is truly an art form. The reason is threefold:
- First, pie charts and simple bar graphs are not your only options. There are an enormous number of 2D and 3D graphical paradigms that can be used, both singularly and in combination.
- Second, to perform this task effectively, you should have a strong understanding of data. In fact, a background in statistics would also be of value.
- Third, you would need the technical ability to create these visual data representations using Microsoft Excel and potentially any one of a number of advanced graphical software packages.
If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom.
Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to grow.
Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.