By Mark Onisk
A friend of mine recently found himself at a crossroads in his career. While he had spent many years in front-line technical support and service roles, he had not built any truly marketable skills or credentials. He had a solid grounding in IT, but had never focused his career or skill development to develop the “hard skills” he needed to land the job of his dreams. Faced with the prospects of an impending job search, my friend asked me for my advice on what his next steps should be and where the opportunities in technology lie.
My friend’s challenge is one that even the most seasoned IT professionals face every day. Even if they have built up an impressive portfolio of work, their skills quickly become outdated as new technologies, platforms and methodologies reveal themselves on a daily basis. Unless they invest in their skill development, today’s IT professional is faced with the risk of career obsolescence within 24-36 months, What’s more, the employers of these IT professionals are at even further risk if they fail to invest in the skill development of their people. (As an aside, it amazes me in that in a world where technology is advancing at the rate it is, that organizations even question the ROI on learning resources and measure the return to the business purely through unit consumption, but this is a topic for another day.)
Getting back to the original question, where should someone focus his or her skill development in IT? The very nature of the profession has grown geometrically over the last five years. At one point in time, there were relatively tidy definitions around software development, database development, network engineering, quality assurance and project management; there were clear certification tracks within each of these domains and clear leaders in each space. However, the advancement of mobile, social, big data, analytics, machine learning, automation, DevOps, cybersecurity and agile, to name a few, have all but eradicated what we thought were the standard “silos” of IT. This puts more responsibility on the individual and their employers to cast a wider net when evaluating their skills.
That said, we thought it might be helpful to share a list of those books that are some of the most popular titles on our platform, providing a sense for where the industry is headed and where people are spending their time building their skills. While this is not a comprehensive, or rank-ordered list, it does provide some insight into what learners (and the organizations they work for) view as the skills of tomorrow. Ultimately, such lists are informed by the commercial opportunity of the technologies covered within each title and fall into areas technology-driven businesses view the most opportunity and/or risk, so can be used as a trending indicator for those evaluating their skills.
In terms of the advice I offered up to my friend, I told him to focus on technologies that he found interesting and was passionate about. Ultimately, if you are passionate about your work and find it interesting, the career will follow!
Here’s a selection of the most accessed titles in our IT collection, encompassing a wide selection of topics from AWS to Python.
AWS Certified Solutions Architect Official Study Guide: Associate Exam (Sybex, 2017)
- A comprehensive guide loaded with content and study tools. And the one I recommended.
CCNA Routing and Switching Complete Study Guide, Second Edition (Sybex, 2017)
- Expert guidance on all topics which are mapped to the latest version of the exams
CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide, 7th Edition (McGraw-Hill, 2016)
- Most complete up-to-date, self–study system
The DevOps Handbook: How to Create World Class Agility, Reliability, & Security in Technology Organizations (BizBookLab, 2016
- Featuring case studies and other technical practices to help maximize organizational learning
Learn to Program with Python (Apress, 2016)
- Go from zero to comfortably writing small to medium-sized programs with easy to follow instructions
CompTIA A+ Certification All-in-One Exam Guide, Ninth Edition (Exams 220-901 &220-902) ( McGraw-Hill/Osborne, 2016)
- Updated study guide covering all the exam objectives on the 2015 CompTIA A+ exams
Become ITIL® Foundation Certified in 7 Days: Learning ITIL® Made Simple with Real-life Examples (Apress, 2017)
- A comprehensive resource to help you prepare for the ITIL® Foundation examination
ITIL® Foundation All-In-One Exam Guide (McGraw-Hill/Osborne, 2016)
- Over 300 practice exam questions to help you get ready for the exam
Eleventh Hour CISSP: Study Guide, Third Edition, (Elsevier Science and Technology Books, Inc., 2016)
- Streamlined for maximum efficiency, making it ideal for simply updating their certificates.
CISSP Study Guide, Third Edition (Elsevier Science and Technology Books, Inc., 2016)
- Packed with hands-on exercises, unique terms and definitions making this a very effective study guide
Python: An Introduction to Programming (Mercury Learning, 2017)
- Ideal as an introduction to programming in Python
CEH Certified Ethical Hacker All-in-One Exam Guide, Third Edition (McGraw-Hill/Osborne, 2017)
- Current and complete self-study guide to the exam including information of the tools and techniques commonly used in the industry.
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Mark Onisk is the Senior Vice President of Books.