If you’re reading this, you or someone you know is likely considering pivoting to a career in tech. If this is the case, you are not alone. In fact, a 2022 Harris Poll found that about 52% of Americans are considering making a career change in 2023. The reasons to move to a job in tech are compelling—tech skills are in high demand and are needed by companies of all sizes and industries. So how do you hack your way into a role in tech without a technical degree or experience?
Here’s a straightforward, step-by-step guide to landing a job in tech without a tech degree.
1. Identify and embrace your transferable skills. I get what you’re thinking…I don’t have any transferable skills, that’s why I am reading this article! I assure you this isn’t the case. Whether you’re a teacher, parcel delivery driver, or nurse, you have hard and soft skills that can translate to a job in tech. Maybe you have experience with an inventory management system, you are detail oriented, or you love math. These skills will become the foundation on which you build your new tech stack.
Tip: Seek input from family, friends, former bosses, and teachers to get a balanced and fair view of your skills.
2. Research possible career paths. Once you identify your transferrable skills, start researching to identify roles in tech that align to those core skills. If you have an eye for interior design, your research might lead you to a UI/UX developer role. There are a huge variety of technical positions out there, so take your time and be sure to review different job postings. Once you feel you have done enough research, narrow your list down to your top one or two choices.
3. Identify your skills gap. Once you are familiar with your skills and the tech roles that best align with those skills and passions, you need to understand the barriers that prevent you from employment today. In other words, you need to conduct a gap analysis. No, this is not a fancy analysis full of detailed metrics and charts, it’s simply a list of the skills needed for the job that you don’t have today. Chances are you already have a good understanding based on the research you did on the role, but now you will take it to the next level by highlighting the gap and the skills, experience, and knowledge needed to close it.
4. Close the skills gap. Going back to school to pursue a technical degree is not always feasible but in today’s world it is not the only option. Today there are many options that will allow you to upskill in almost any area of tech. Technical bootcamps, online classes, certification programs, and apprenticeships are among the most popular options. There are options for people of all backgrounds and many are even low-to-no cost. Organizations such as Year Up, Per Scholas, and Savvy Coders are just a few that specialize in helping underrepresented talent pivot into a technical career through classroom learning, hands-on projects, and career services.
Tip: The role you’re interested in could be an evolved version of another role. For example, if you want to be a Full Stack Software Engineer it can be difficult to transition without a degree or wealth of experience, but starting as a QA Engineer can help you build your skills and experience and allow you to grow your network.
5. Network and rebrand yourself. The important thing to remember is employers want to see that you’re passionate about this new career path. Be sure to spend some of your free time working on personal projects and upskilling yourself. Don’t be shy about highlighting your personal accomplishments on your resume, via your GitHub, Stack Overflow, or personal website. From here you want to network with folks who can help you be seen. Some great places to start include recruitment agencies that can get you in front of employers looking for your new skills, people within your current organization who may not be aware of your new skills, and internship or apprenticeship programs that can help you with introductions.
It is no secret that there is a growing skills gap in the tech space and nearly 50% of employers don’t have a strategy to address it. Employers are now strongly considering more untraditional methods for finding people with technical skills, which opens the door for YOU! There is no better time to start making moves toward a career in tech. Hopefully the steps outlined here will serve as a blueprint to help you make the pivot.
For more, check out these tips on how to make a career move into tech from a non-traditional background.