There's not much work out there for people with only a high-school degree or GED—let alone no degree at all. Within the general workforce, there is a growing, shining beacon that could always use no talent, and it even has a low entry point. The world of information technology is more than just computers, words across screens, and pocket protectors. If you need something better than warehouse jobs, shelf stocking, or fast-food positions, consider the IT industry at all the levels available for someone fresh to the scene.
Entry-Level Technical Support
The traditional view of a technical-support expert is a person who knows how to clean viruses from computers, install software, and change around hardware. That's not too far off from the main idea, but there's so much more.
Technical-support professionals are needed for all tech devices, and as the tech world becomes more intertwined with everyday life, the face of support changes. Do you or someone you know spend most of their time looking at a smartphone or tablet? Have you had to fix those devices, or have you ever reset a device to factory settings? Congratulations, that's half the battle!
Are you the person who knows how to get all of the unofficial apps? Have you ever made your phone or tablet do something it shouldn't do, such as play free games or—gasp—videos you shouldn't have access to? Congratulations, you're a hacker! Don't acknowledge that in public, though. Hacking is not always a big crime, but you're trying to get a job, not get locked out of a legit job field.
Companies are looking for people who aren't afraid to get dirty with technical details and troubleshooting devices. Are there best practices? Yes. Will you need to learn proper procedures? Yes, but at the entry level, you just need to be a skilled tinkerer who is willing to learn.
Technical Support Opens the Door to Other IT Paths
With technical support as the entry level, you can learn many other disciplines without spending money on college degrees or certifications yet. The main concern is learning your way around computers and knowing what it means to work with customers at a technical level.
Although different devices, companies, and services have different titles, this is known as working at the help desk. To truly get deep into the help desk, use this time to study the Windows Operating System (currently Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10) and the Macintosh Operating System (Mac OSX, currently El Capitan—which is not spelled "Captain").
Knowing these operating systems will bring you into higher and broader levels of IT support, allowing you to work for businesses with need for general technical support, system administration, networking, and programming.
What do those fields mean? System administrators control access to specific files, the installation and upgrades for software, and the general maintenance of computer systems. They work closely with network administrators who control the routers and switches that send data through the company. Programming is another field, but the technical-support world can give you the money to work on studying ways to create programs with some comfort.
Speak with a representative from an adult education center to discuss training and opportunities to upgrade your life with an IT career.