how to get a tech job without a degree

How to Get a Tech Job Without a Degree: 2021 Guide

The tech industry is one of the highest-paying industries with a lot of job opportunities. If you want to pursue a tech career, this is the best time to do so. In 2021, there are many ways to get into tech regardless of your educational background. Read on to find out how to get a tech job without a degree.

Why You Should Enter a Tech Career

You should pursue a career in tech if you want endless career possibilities and a high salary.  You can work across any industry you choose in a growing field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that tech roles like web developers will have an 8% job increase between 2019 and 2029

Salaries for tech roles tend to be above average. BLS reports the median average wage for computer and IT professionals is $91,250, higher than the average for all occupations of $41,950.

Tech roles tend to be ahead of the game in terms of flexible working. The roles lend themselves to this style of working. For example, many offer remote working and flexible hours to fit around your schedule. 

How to Enter the Tech Industry Without a Degree

There are many ways to enter the tech industry without a four-year degree. You can learn in-demand skills online, enroll in coding bootcamps, and get a professional certification. You don’t necessarily need a degree to become a graphic designer, cyber security specialist, network support specialist, or full stack developer.

Learn an In-Demand Skill

Start by learning foundational digital skills such as coding with CSS and HTML, and simple photo editing on Canva and Photoshop. You can find online courses to help you learn. You can then go on to learn in-demand tech skills such as JavaScript, Python, and Ruby, depending on your career goals.  

Enroll in a Coding Bootcamp

Another way to really kickstart a career the tech industry is to enroll in one of the best coding bootcamps. Bootcamps usually specialize in specific disciplines like software engineering, web development, user experience design, cyber security, or data science. 

At a bootcamp, the curriculum is structured to prepare you for the tech field in a short amount of time. Many bootcamp graduates secure a job after completing the program. The success rates are high and employers are willing to hire talents from bootcamps. 

Intern 

If you don’t yet have work experience, it’s a great idea to get an internship. This gives you a chance to develop tech skills and contribute to real-world projects. It is an excellent way to build a portfolio and your resume.

Earn a Professional Certification

Professional certification validates your skills to potential employers. It could set you apart from other job seekers. There are a lot of professional certifications in tech, depending on your specialization. You’ll need to pass a certification exam. Popular tech certifications include ComptiAA+, CompTIA security+, and CompTIA Network+.

Build an Online Portfolio

Building a portfolio is essential because it shows that you have experience of working on tech projects. It will let your potential employers know the kinds of projects you have completed and what you want to work on in the future. Make sure to link your portfolio to your professional profiles like GitHub and LinkedIn.

Your portfolio needs to contain a mission statement and a brief bio. It should be tailored to the role you are planning to get. For example, if you want a career in user design, then design a memorable and creative portfolio website. 

Tech Leaders That Didn’t Earn a Degree

There are many tech leaders who didn’t earn a degree. From Mark Zuckerberg to Bill Gates, numerous tech leaders left university to join the tech industry. Their bets paid off and some of the most innovative ideas came about because of it. 

Below are some of the tech leaders who were extremely successful despite not having a university degree. 

  • Steve Jobs (Apple) 
  • Bill Gates (Microsoft)
  • Matt Mullenweg (WordPress)
  • Jack Dorsey (Twitter and Square)
  • Richard Branson (Virgin Group)
  • Paul Allen (Microsoft) 
  • Michael Dell (Dell)
  • David Karp (Tumblr)
  • Arash Ferdowsi (Dropbox)
  • Jan Koum (WhatsApp)

High-Paying Tech Jobs You Can Get Without a Degree

Digital Marketer

The best way to reach potential customers nowadays is through digital channels.  Companies are always on the lookout for talented digital marketers to help them promote services and products this way.

Digital marketers use search engine optimization, content marketing, search engine marketing, email marketing, and social media marketing to reach customers. They typically specialize in one or more of these areas. Marketing managers earn an average of $141,490, according to BLS. 

How to Become a Digital Marketer?

You can become a digital marketer by taking a course in digital marketing. You’ll study the main tools of digital marketing such as social media data analytic platforms, Pay Per Click, and search engine optimization. After completing some online training, you can apply for entry-level positions to gain experience.

Cyber Security Analyst

Cyber security analysts help secure the company’s network. They are also responsible for monitoring the system for possible threats to its databases. This job focuses on protecting the sensitive data and communications of the company. 

These experts monitor the software and hardware of the company to prevent any security breaches. They are also responsible for running tests to analyze the strength of the security software. The average salary for cyber security analysts is  $107,580 per year, according to BLS.

How to Become a Cyber Security Analyst?

To become a cyber security analyst, you can take a course online to learn the basics. You do not need a degree, but professional certifications could come in handy. Popular certifications include Certified Ethical Hacker and Comptia security+. With these certifications, it’ll be far easier to apply for entry-level positions. 

Web Developer

Web developers are responsible for generating traffic for products and services by building effective and eye-catching websites. These experts identify the potential users and then build a website that is easy and appealing to engage with.

They must consider the needs of the customers while building the website and find the best ways to maintain the site’s functionality. BLS reports the average salary of web developers is $85,490 per year.

How to Become a Web Developer?

There are a lot of paths you can take to become a web developer. You don’t need to have a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or Information Technology. You can enroll in a coding bootcamp or take online courses to learn to code. The curriculum is structured to help you learn in-demand industry skills to get your job ready.

Web Designer 

Web designers are responsible for creating website layouts, designs, and graphics. These experts decide the look and feel of a website. They also create icons, images, and wireframes for different types of websites. Web designers use languages like HTML, JavaScript, and CSS to code sites.

They may also rely on content management systems and web applications such as Joomla, WordPress, and Drupal. They test browser compatibility, perform search engine optimization, and update new content on the site. On average, these experts earn $77,200 per year.

How to Become a Web Designer?

To pursue a career in design, there is no specific education requirement. You just need a solid understanding of design and website coding skills. You’ll need the ability to use software like Photoshop, Adobe, and Illustrator, as well as CSS, HTML, and JavaScript. Knowledge of ASP.NET and PHP can also come in handy. 

Computer Systems Analyst

Computer systems analysts are responsible for monitoring and improve an organization’s computer systems. They are responsible for designing and implementing solutions to help these systems run more smoothly and efficiently. They earn $93,730 per year, according to BLS.

How to Become a Computer Systems Analyst?

To work as a computer systems analyst you need to understand business and IT. You don’t necessarily need a bachelor’s degree. Some computer systems analysts gain their business and technical skills through non-traditional routes such as bootcamps or online classes. 

Top Skills You Can Learn to Kickstart Your Tech Career

Top Skills You Can Learn To Kickstart Your Learning

The tech industry has a lot of job opportunities. However, this does not mean there is no competition. You need to have in-demand skills if you want to stand out and secure a high-paying job. Demonstrating you have soft skills like communication skills and analytical skills are as important as technical skills.

SEO/SEM Marketing

Companies with websites need digital marketing experts to help boost their visibility and web presence. If you have the SEM/SEO skills, you can offer this service to them. This skill can help you become a successful digital marketer, without having to earn a degree.

Top Online Courses to Master SEO/SEM Marketing

  • SEO 2021: Complete SEO Training + SEO for WordPress Websites by Udemy 
  • 2021 Complete SEO Guide to Ranking Local Business Websites by Udemy
  • E-Marketing Specialization by Coursera

Machine Learning

Having skills in machine learning is a huge asset to many tech roles. Machine learning and data-driven decisions are making a difference in how businesses are run. They help businesses work more effectively and stay ahead of their competitors. 

Learning this skill has applications in different industries including retail, manufacturing, life sciences, hospitality, and travel. You can also apply these skills in financial services, utilities, and livestock management.

Top Online Courses to Master Machine Learning

  • Machine Learning by Coursera
  • Machine Learning A-Z™: Hands-On Python & R In Data Science by Udemy
  • Data Science and Machine Learning Bootcamp with R by Udemy

UI/UX Design

If you want to become a UX designer, you’ll need advanced skills in UI/UX design. Taking an online UX design course is a great way to gain these skills. Having experts with these skills offers businesses a competitive advantage in finding new customers and retaining current ones. 

When a brand’s website is designed around its customers, it yields better results. It creates more customer conversions. A well-designed site also helps brands build trust. 

Top Online Courses to Master UI/UX Design

  • Google UX Design Professional Certificate by Coursera 
  • User Experience Design Essentials – Adobe XD UI UX Design by Udemy
  • The Complete App Design Course – UX, UI, and Design Thinking by Udemy

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is changing the way data and documents are saved. Through cloud computing, you no longer need to save your data to a hard drive. As well as speeding up computer processes, it allows data to be accessed on the go. 

The demand for cloud computing skills is growing fast. With these skills, you can help organizations save and manage their data. You can also expect a long and promising career path. 

Top Online Courses to Master Cloud Computing

  • Preparing for Google Cloud Certification: Cloud DevOps Engineer Professional Certificate by Coursera
  • Introduction to Cloud Computing by edX
  • Microsoft Azure: Security Concepts by LinkedIn Learning 

Cyber Security

Any organization that stores customer data or handles sensitive data will want to ensure that the databases are secure. They need to protect data from hackers and other security threats. 

Lots of organizations have experienced threats to their network security. Skills in cyber security will help you to handle sensitive data for organizations. 

Top Online Courses to Master Cyber Security

  • IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate by Coursera
  • Introduction to Cyber Security Specialization by Coursera
  • IT Fundamentals for Cybersecurity Specialization by Coursera

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of job opportunities in tech that are possible without a four-year degree. Many people who don’t have a degree have gone on to be some of the world’s greatest tech leaders. 

If you’re hoping to pursue a career in tech, you can become a web developer, computer systems analyst, or web designer. Use the resources available to you such as coding bootcamps, online courses, and self-learning to start your career in tech today.

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