How to put your IT career on the fast track

Many IT professionals say they would go all-out to land the best jobs, with the best benefits at the best companies. All it takes is up-to-the-minute skills and a whole lot of drive.

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Linetic / Thinkstock

Kevin Kalahiki moved up fast after landing his first IT job during the boom days of the dot-com era.

He jumped from entry-level Web developer in 2000 to senior manager on a digital design team at a large financial services firm today, with just a few stops in between.

"I had this drive to keep learning and to push myself; to not relax, because the technology doesn't. And because of that, I've found myself naturally coming up to lead," Kalahiki says.

Kalahiki's climb may not have been meteoric, but he doesn't have a college degree and his résumé before he moved into IT consisted of a few dead-end jobs. So what accounts for his fast ride up?

Kalahiki credits personal initiative.

"I had always been passionate about IT, so when I fell into having a real job, I got immersed in how it all works," he says. "And I think that initiative, that [desire] to always learn and to understand how things work that's in myself and other people I work with, that's the one thing that can fast-track a career."

The news is filled with statistics and stories about the strong tech labor market. Indeed, the unemployment rate for tech workers is lower than 4%, and it's lower than 1% for certain jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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