How to Get a Tech Job Without a Degree: A Guide to the Highest-Paying Tech Jobs
It is not just possible to start a career in technology without a degree. In some instances, a non-degree path is actually the best path. In an industry where practical experience often carries more weight than a degree, there are plenty of educational alternatives, from online courses to coding bootcamps, that can get you where you want to go.
The tech industry is constantly evolving and the best way to benefit is to take advantage of the opportunities that such rapid growth affords. In this article, we break down how to get a tech job without a degree.
Can You Get a Tech Job Without a Degree?
Yes, there are several tech jobs you can get without a degree. It is often more prudent to pursue a tech career without spending time or money on a four-year degree program. Completing a two-year associate degree program is not necessarily advisable either, provided you can get the required tech skills elsewhere.
Many of the skills needed to excel in tech jobs can be obtained by completing coding bootcamps, online courses, and certificate programs. The key to excelling in a tech job is being able to grasp core concepts and then mastering your craft by amassing hours upon hours of practical experience. You don’t need a four-year degree for that.
High-Paying IT Jobs You Can Get Without a Degree
While you can find stability just by acquiring the core skills, it goes without saying that the jobs that don’t require a degree are not necessarily the highest-paying tech jobs. That being said, in putting together the following list, we have tried to focus on the non-degree careers with the most earning potential.
Software Architect – $125,932
To become a software architect, you need to learn Java, SQL, .NET, and C#. To improve your career prospects and earning potential, you can become fluent in Storm, Scala, encryption, object oriented analysis and design, Apache Spark, Ruby on Rails, and project management. Important soft skills include communication and problem-solving.
DevOps Engineer – $96,747
This is one of the most rewarding jobs for anybody entering the tech industry without a college degree. DevOps is one of the more specialized technical skills in the field of software engineering, which means you are unlikely to learn it in a degree program. The key tasks of a DevOps engineer are to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of applications.
DevOps engineers are competent in Amazon Web Services, Linux, Jenkins, automation scripting, Apache Hadoop, Golang, and Apache Cassandra. There are specific platforms and resources available online for learning these before applying for positions like this.
Cyber Security Analyst – $76,625
This well-paying job is available to people without formal degrees. The required skills for a cyber security analyst include a working knowledge of cyber security, security risk management, security policies and procedures, security information, event management, and security intrusion detection.
Career prospects improve dramatically if you are also proficient in intelligence analysis, cloud computing, and signals intelligence.
Network Engineer – $75,363
Among the most important things to learn when studying to become a network engineer is Cisco Systems. Cisco Networking is commonly used around the world, making it difficult to function in this line of work without being able to navigate these systems.
Critically, Cisco Systems provides learning material for all the certifications they offer. A Cisco certification demonstrates competence in using its systems. You may have to meet certain prerequisites to be eligible for a certification exam, but these prerequisites are seldom connected to college degrees.
Digital Marketer – $68,219
This role involves social media marketing, online marketing, search engine optimization, email marketing, as well as digital marketing in the broader sense.
Earning potential in this line of work is significantly improved with knowledge of subjects like Tableau, ecommerce, UI design, UX design, and conversion rate optimization. Many of these can be learned while on the job.
Systems Analyst – $67,075
Systems analysts test applications and are responsible for quality control in database management contexts. The key responsibilities in this role center on creating and maintaining documentation required for operations and security audits.
To excel in this line of work, knowledge of Oracle eBusiness Suite, service oriented architecture, and data warehouses is recommended. By completing online courses or relevant bootcamps, you can gain all the knowledge you need.
Computer Programmer – $64,958
Web Developer – $60,307
Computer Support Specialist – $45,727
Career growth prospects and earning potential remain relatively high for computer support and help desk technicians. This is because the required skills remain valid and valuable. Among those skills are system administration, troubleshooting, and knowledge of computer hardware. These are all relatively simple to learn and do not require a college degree.
Aerospace Technician – $41,595
An aerospace technician is not the same as an aerospace engineer, though both jobs require a high level of competence. An aerospace technician assists an engineer with the design, development, and testing of technologies in the aerospace industry.
To become an aerospace technician, you don’t need much more than a high school diploma. However, most technicians do have an associate degree. So, while a degree isn’t necessary, it will certainly improve your career prospects.
How to Get a Tech Job Without a Degree
You can get a tech job without a degree by enrolling in coding bootcamps, online coding courses, or certification programs. These programs can either be instructor-led or self-taught, and most programs can be done at a pace that’s comfortable for you.
Online Coding Courses
The best online coding courses can be accessed via learning platforms like Pluralsight, Coursera, and Udemy and are generally quite affordable. Some of the courses charge a small fee for a certificate of completion, and others are available by subscription only. Many courses are designed in partnership with a reputable institution like Harvard or MIT.
Certification exams are often designed and sanctioned by major tech companies like IBM, Google, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, Oracle, and Apple. These certification programs are designed to test that your ability to use specific platforms meets industry standards.
There are also certifications in specific subject areas. Programs like this are usually sanctioned by bodies like the Python Institute or the Data Science Council of America.
It is also possible to teach yourself key computing concepts without enrolling in a bootcamp, online course, or certification program. Tech-related resources are readily available online in both video and written formats.
If this is your preference, there are multiple forums and social media platforms that promote and facilitate collaboration. These platforms allow the sharing of ideas and allow members to seek help from peers. Education is more accessible now than it has ever been, and the expanding needs of the tech industry have a considerable amount to do with that.
Should You Get a Job in Tech?
In short, yes. Many tech jobs do not require a college degree, most pay very well, and the job outlook for most tech jobs is outstanding. If earning potential and job security are not enough for you, there is also significant potential for advancement.
The career trajectory for somebody in a tech job is faster than in other industries, as tech continues to accelerate. Provided you have demonstrable skills and relevant experience, you will be positioned well to exploit various opportunities in the tech industry.
How do I get an IT job with no experience?
It is difficult to land a tech job with no experience. However, there are some companies that run apprenticeship programs. These are aimed at those wishing to pursue a career in tech from scratch. The learning takes place on the job at an actual tech company, which is often the best way to learn.
What is the easiest job in tech?
Opinions will vary, but more often than not, jobs using Python are the easiest in tech. This is primarily because it is among the easiest programming languages to learn and easier than most to read.
What are the best tech jobs in 2021?
The best tech jobs in 2021 are artificial intelligence engineer, data scientist, information security analyst, software engineer, computer research scientist, and data analyst.