Please upgrade your web browser

These pages are built with modern web browsers in mind, and are not optimized for Internet Explorer 8 or below. Please try using another web browser, such as Internet Explorer 9, Internet Explorer 10, Internet Explorer 11, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Apple Safari.

How to change career paths from maintenance to IT


Bradley Benton Elizabethtown, KY

Hello, I am working toward switching career from a maintenance field to IT field. I have over 10 years in maintenance spent all my military career in the maintenance field. Trouble I am have is trying to gain experience in the IT field. I am currently looking for internship in the IT field near me and a recently graduated with and AA degree look to transfer to a four year school. One of my questions is has anyone experienced this and how did you work through it. Also should I focus CompTa certifications?

Thank you

18 May 2017 9 replies Career Exploration



Art Grimshaw Guilderland, NY

Here are few more suggestions and resources......

1) If you have a security clearance consider signing up on With clearances taking over a year to process many companies will hire and train entry level staff.

2) Last year NIST released a new tool to help Information Security job seekers. It is an Interactive Resource for Cybersecurity Career Information.

3) If you are going for an IT job make sure your LinkedIn profile is current. In my experience most recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates for IT positions. New Horizons has a free webinar on how to leverage LinkedIn that helped me. They also have several other free webinars to help job seekers.

4) Stay current. SANS hosts regular webcasts and there is a plethora of podcasts to listen to. One of my favorite podcasts is Youtube is also a great resource for content.

5) As a Veteran you can access resources like , , and which provides free training and other resources.

6) Also as a Veteran you have hiring preference for Federal jobs. Setup an account on and use their resume builder tool to apply for jobs. Unlike civilian resumes where brevity is a good thing you need to be very verbose when applying for a federal job. If the posting uses a word, try to work it into your resume and just keep growing it with every application.

7) Read the free ebook Heroes Get Hired: How To Use Your Military Experience to Master the Interview When it comes to books don't forget your local library is a great resource that is often underutilized. Also, as a Veteran you can access the extensive MWR Digital library through Military One Source.

Hope this helps.


Sean McDowell Land O Lakes, FL

Bradley, I am in a similar boat. I am trying to change careers from Vehicle Management to IT Security or Cyber Security. I have the CompTIA A+ and Security+ certs, but it hasn't helped me find a job yet. I'm even having a tough time getting an IT helpdesk position. I have been told that certifications are the way to go to get your foot in the door. Our military experience translates to IT in some ways. Troubleshooting and problem solving are some skills that can go on your resume. I've been working hard trying to translate more into IT savvy language.


Michael Crowley Andover, MA

Hi Bradley,
Have you thought about blending your maintenance experience and IT aspirations? The latest (hot) trend is in IoT or IIoT, where devices that you maintain become connected via the internet to the cloud, to analytics to optimize the performance and lifecycle. For example, in automotive/transportation, fleet operations are connected to the cloud to operations centers and computers that monitor engine parameters, routes, usage, etc.
Traditional operational technologies such as industrial automation, building automation, etc. are being blended with IT technologies, thus the term IT/OT convergence. BTW, cybersecurity is also hot and corresponds to IIoT since these cloud connected devices need to be kept secure (see Stuxnet virus). Not sure if this helped, good luck with your studies.


Donna Franz Bethesda, OH

Hi Bradley, The IT world is big! There are so many different type of jobs, as well as different types of devices. Some people work with firewalls, some with routers, others do wiring, and installs, and of course there are programmers, helpdesk consultants, network analyst, and security advisors. And all of them are important to their section of the environment.

I know that certificates are the going thing to have in todays world along with any education you have. Some companies even help pay for these! I worked with Sterling Software for a while and they paid for all my college education that I did while there. Another company paid for a security certificate. So they do help you out - mainly because your experience and background of education helps them get contracts.

I think the best thing for you to do is look at all the IT fields out there, look at what you might be really interested in, check out the link someone provided... to see what jobs are out there for that field and if its worth pursuing. I believe there are some free webinars online (some on utube even) that provide an overview on a particular technology. Internships are great if you find them in your area. Most companies have a plan for new hires to do their work, their way. So they train you as you go.

Another way to learn and do some of your desired work is to assist others in determining their problems on their computers. Most helpdesk assistants have a guide to help them with clients. and as you help others you help yourself. Just something to keep in mind - kinda like an internship within your job.

Good luck with everything and if have any questions about what I mentioned let me know.


Bradley Benton Elizabethtown, KY

Thank you for the incite Ted. Working on networking now to find an internship. One problem I am running into is I live in a small town not a lot of internships nearby .


Ted Mittelstaedt Portland, OR

I'm an independent IT consultant. You need to keep in mind that a 4 year CompSci degree is for people who want to program computers. Programmers generally work for software development companies. IT on the other hand are the people who keep computer systems running smoothly. They generally don't write software and most are either self-trained (as I am since when I got into this business there were no degrees for it) or they are holders of 2 year Associates degrees.

CompSci is a different educational track than the AA degrees and practically nothing you have in an AA certificate is transferrable over to use for a CompSci degree. Talk to an advisor at your nearest university. I also write software (mainly for fun) and I have a slew of CompSci classes under my belt and the reality in development work is the fastest way to get hired by a software development firm is to write a popular app.

CompTia and most of those other certificates are indeed useless. The Cisco certification and the Microsoft certifications are about the only ones worth spending the money on getting and the only reason the MS certification is useful is if you want to go work for a Microsoft Gold Partner since Microsoft requires that their partners have certificate holders on staff. Otherwise the MS cert really teaches you nothing of value. The Cisco cert is really the only one that teaches you anything of value and it is very useful to have if you want to work for Cisco or for the Fortune 500.

As John said, we don't do hardware repairs on computers, this is because most businesses buy machine that have 3 year warranties on them and if the machine starts screwing up, they swap them with a spare, then re-image the screwing up system, and if that doesn't fix it, they call the vendor and file a warranty claim. Hardware repairs are done by the vendors nowadays. If the machine is off-warranty then they discard it where it goes to some young guy with little money and lots of time who is willing to fiddle with it for 40 hours narrowing it down to the particular part that is malfunctioning. (often that person is overseas)

We also don't install networks since that's all done by low-voltage wiring people. However it is very useful to know how to do it. I do (since I came up in the business during the days where we did it) and I've supervised several whole-plant recables because of that knowledge. But it is rare you will get that opportunity and so you don't need to worry too much about it.

Information security is a hot field right now but I will tell you the dirty little secret now about it. The reality is most of the work available for InfoSec firms is driven by businesses who have gotten hit. And 99 times out of 100 when you get the InfoSec firms in they will find the vulnerability is due to workflow process problems and will start making recommendations to the companies to change business practices - and the companies will dither around and dither around and not want to do it. And ultimately many won't do it. So get used to being told "thanks but no thanks" when you make InfoSec recommendations.

I personally don't see much more than a 10-15 year career lifespan for most InfoSec. What is going on in the business is that software development houses more and more are integrating security into their products (which often makes them harder to use) business consultants are integrating security more and more into their consulting, and IT consultants like me are in the trenches educating users on safe computer use. And as the older users age out of business and are replaced by the younger users who have been working with computers since they were babies, the user base is getting more and more sophisticated at recognizing InfoSec holes in process and plugging them. There will always be a need for pure InfoSec firms but more and more InfoSec is going to be integrated into what everyone is doing. It will be a case where the IT people with 2 year certs, the CompSci people with 4 year degrees will have been trained in InfoSec, the software development houses will have trained their developers to recognize holes as they code, and will integrate pen testing into their QA, and the business owners will be integrating InfoSec practices into their businesses. And overall user training will get better. No matter how good the hardware and software is, a zero-day attack will get past all of it, the only hope you have of stopping it is a user sophisticated enough to recognize "something isn't right here" and shutting down. We aren't there yet which is why InfoSec is a hot field now but we are headed there.


Bradley Benton Elizabethtown, KY

Thank you for answering my questions. When it comes to internship when is too soon to start? Or should i focus on getting one year of IT degree finished first I am not starting the BS in computer science til the fall. The career field i would like to been is information security analyst.


Myrna King Austin, TX

Bradley, perhaps we could chat for a few minutes by phone? I'm a coach, offering my services pro-bono. My practical thoughts:

1. Find an "outsourced IT management solution provider" in your area and ask for a part time internship while in school. One or more of these companies in your area may be veteran owned or veteran-friendly. Begin asking people you know - "who manages your company's IT? Could I talk to them about their industry?"

2. Ask at the schools you are looking at, who does IT admin for their university systems tech? Ask to be introduced to that company or internal group. Ask that company / internal group for introductions to companies for intern requests.

3. Consider an internship with a company that is a Microsoft / Dell / Google partner and look at the sales It end of things for your internship. Learning what real-world decisions are made around IT will round out the university education - which is usually a few years behind this fast paced field.

Feel free to email me and we can set up a free call.


John Green Cary, NC

1. Look at the salary guides to determine how much you want to earn.

2. Find out what the qualifications are for your particular choice.

3. Pursue a specialization that is demanded by the market : Artificial Intelligence or Cybersecurity are examples.

To answer your question, CompTia certifications are not useful in today's job market. The reason this is true is because we do not repair computers any longer, we replace them. We don't install networks any longer, most businesses already have network and cabling standards in place with sub-contractors to do the job.

You need a specialization that is in-demand. CompTia is not.

Your Answer

Please log in to answer this question.

Sign Up

You can join as either a Veteran or an Advisor.

An Advisor already has a career, with or without military experience, and is willing to engage with and help veterans.
Sign Up as an Advisor.

A Veteran has military experience and is seeking a new career, or assistance with life after service.
Sign Up as a Veteran.