'I used to run a pub, now I work in tech'. Career changers on why they made the switch to IT

It's never too late to find your dream job - and the tech industry is a great place to start.
Written by Allison Murray, Staff Writer

Andy Itzinger used to spend his days running his 30-seat pub in London. From managing a team of 10 people to running the financial costs of owning a building and onto being friendly with customers and recommending his favorite beers, Itzinger was sure he was in the right career.

However, after a smoking ban hit London pubs and his customer base started to dwindle, he decided to turn back to a career in tech as an IT developer. Though it's an unconventional path into the tech industry, Itzinger now works at Vertiv as a product manager.

Surprisingly, he said that many of the skillsets between running his bar and being a product manager in IT overlap.

"From an operational perspective, as a landlord, I had to plan for what the demand would be to ensure that the pub was well stocked with the right amount of food and beverages, as well as make sure everything was available and prepared for consumption," he said. That's not so different from forecasting demand for tech.

"The skills required in both roles are good, consultative service provision, market knowledge, industry experience, and quality products."

Itzinger is just one of many workers who have moved into the tech industry as it continues to grow rapidly and add more employment opportunities. 

SEE: The future of work: How everything changed and what's coming next

According to a 2021 study from PwC Global, 77% of workers are ready to learn new skills or completely retrain in a different field. And the tech industry is definitely one field that needs workers: the Computing Technology Industry Association predicts that there will be 177,705 net new tech workers in 2022, which is more than 2% growth across the industry.

Olivia Hill was a freelance movie review writer before becoming a software developer at the Software Institute. Her degree was in journalism, but ultimately, there was a lack of opportunity and passion for her in that field, so she started to look for a career change once the pandemic hit and remembered how she enjoyed developing websites.

"When I was doing my journalism degree at university, we did a digital platforms module. And as part of that, we were making our own websites through WordPress, but there were also some basic coding skills as part of that," she said. "We did basic HTML and CSS, and at the time, I thought this was really fun."

She took that memory of enjoying how to code and started looking at different coding boot camps, eventually finding one that was affordable for her. But most importantly, she enjoyed coding and saw herself being able to do this as a career.

"When I was first learning how to code, the kind of instant gratification of being able to write some very simple code and see the results of that on your screen straight away is a really amazing feeling," she said. "It's a simple thing, but it's just so much fun."

The desire to want to learn is the number-one thing when it comes to switching industries mid-career.

"You've got to look at where you want to work within the tech industry, so you've got to have a little bit of a passion, in my mind, of what you want to do, be it cybersecurity, remote management, an engineer," Itzinger said. "Then from there, it's actually matching up your skillset to what that job needs, and that might mean putting in additional work or going back to school or receiving a qualification online."

And it's not all about learning to code. Some of the top soft skills (or skills useful for multiple industries) in the tech industry include customer service, sales, marketing, and communication. 

SEE: Software development is changing again. These are the skills companies are looking for

Hill said that when switching careers as she did, it's important to remember that no one knows it all, especially in an ever-changing industry like tech.

"It's impossible to know everything, and you can feel overwhelmed by how much information you feel you should know," she said. "But when I came in [to the industry], I realized that if I can communicate with others effectively, that gave me a massive boost because I can ask for help when I need to and understand tasks and what I'm being asked to do."

The skills it takes to enter the tech industry are becoming more common as technology becomes intertwined into our everyday lives. 

"It's such a huge industry, and we need people to be trained with these skills," Hill said. 

Read more from this special report: Tech skills - Upgrade your job

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