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November 13, 2020

Career Changer Guide: How to Enter the Tech Industry Without a Bachelor’s Degree

Tech careers are some of the best remunerated in the country. They have excellent salaries, benefits, and perks, and work satisfaction is famously high. Surprisingly, you don’t necessarily need a lot of money or be a genius to enter a tech path. You only have to set your mind on your goal and start the process of changing careers. Here is how to build a career in tech without a bachelor’s degree.

Career Options

In the tech industry, you have many potential career paths. It is best if you choose a career before you start to learn the skills. If you learn a programming language, you can use it in different professions. However, it could happen that you learn one that you don’t actually use in the career you ultimately pursue.

My advice is that you are clear on which career you want to pursue and build the right experience and knowledge from the start. For example, a good option is to become a front end developer. These professionals are the ones that develop what we see on our screens, from the operating system to programs and applications. They create an interface that makes it easier for us to use the software.

You can also become a cybersecurity specialist, digital marketer, or visual designer. Find the skills you already have, either from your previous profession or your education, and choose a career where they can be applied.

Acquire the Skills

When starting a tech career, the most challenging part tends to be acquiring the skills. Maybe it’s not the hardest, but it can take a long time and money, which is why many people give up at this point. Fortunately, there are many options when it comes to learning a tech skill.

The tech industry has a shortage of professionals, and the companies are accepting professionals that don’t have a bachelor’s degree as long as they have the necessary qualifications. Below are two options you can follow to get the tech skill you’ll need.

Free Courses

Free is always best, or so your pocket thinks. You can learn to code for free and land a job that will pay you thousands of dollars every year. However, this is a path that requires a lot of motivation and dedication. You won’t have the weight of a monetary inversion, making you take the classes and practice, and teachers or mentors guiding you every step of the way either.

People that learn to code on their own with free resources are the ones that have a lot of discipline. The benefit of learning with free resources is that, generally, you can find complete courses that offer the same curriculum as if you were paying. You will be learning the same thing that a paying student with the difference that you won’t have teachers, mentors, or a certification.

Right now, with the surge in unemployment because of COVID-19, many companies are enabling learning resources so people can upskill and build a new career. For example, LinkedIn has opened some free courses on its learning platform like software engineering and project management. And you get a certificate at the end of the course.

Coding Bootcamps

The second option, if you have some money to invest in yourself or you are ready to take on some debt, are coding bootcamps. Coding bootcamps are intensive courses online or on campus, where you can learn many tech skills like full stack development, UX design, data science, machine learning, and more.

They vary in price depending on the school, location, modality, duration, and skill. But even the most expensive ones are way cheaper than a bachelor’s degree. Generally, each course has a curriculum that will teach you everything you need to know to start your tech career. Bootcamps also offer mentors and teachers who will guide you in preparing for an interview and building a portfolio.

As I mentioned earlier, the best part is that they offer different financial options if you don’t have the money to pay for tuition in cash. For example, many coding bootcamps offer income sharing agreements (ISAs), a contract that allows you to start paying tuition only when you land a job in your field. Some schools even say you don’t have to pay them if you don’t find a job six months after graduation. They also offer loans and month-to-month payments. The thing is, if you want to learn, you have different options to choose from.

Companies That Hire Without Degree

As mentioned before, because the tech industry has a hard time finding qualified professionals, many companies hire professionals without a bachelor’s degree. Also, the founders of many tech companies today are people that never finished a college degree or never even attended one. So, they know people don’t need to have a computer science degree to become a programmer.

Glassdoor released this year a list of 15 companies that no longer require a degree from its candidates. Some of them are Google, Penguin Random House, Hilton, Publix, Apple, IBM, and Bank of America. And we are talking about positions like data analyst, software engineer, financial blockchain engineer, and more.

Grow Your Portfolio

Another thing you may face when creating your own path into a tech career is a lack of portfolio or previous experiences. When you get a college degree, you have a few years to work on different projects that will later serve you for your resume. But, when you learn on your own or with a coding bootcamp, the projects you work on are limited, especially in coding bootcamps where all your classmates will probably have the same projects as you.

So, you should work on growing your portfolio. You can do this by creating personal projects with a few ideas you may have, helping out friends by building them a website or application, and contributing to open-sourced projects. All of these options will help you put your skills to practice in real settings and build some experience for the industry.

In summary, the first step is to know the career you want to follow. The tech industry has hundreds of options, and you can take the one that best fits your needs. Then you should acquire the skills you’ll need, like different programming languages. Put some effort into growing your portfolio. Without a degree, your experience is what will reflect your abilities. Finally, apply to the companies that you know don’t require a bachelor’s degree.

Guest post contributed by Artur Meyster of Career Karma