17 answers

How can I start working toward a career, in the tech field, without a degree?

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#tech #computer #programming #engineering #business #information-technology #singlemom #workingmom

Anyone have any advice that could be helpful to getting started?

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17 answers

Rui’s Answer

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To begin with, 40% of graduated college students get jobs that do not need degrees. Depending on the specific tech field and type of job you are looking at, the degree offers you 20%-60% of the knowledge needed in your work. If you are looking at programming and robotics, more coding experience is definitely more important than theorems in computer science and mechanics. An R&D position might need some deeper understanding of the subject, but usually, it requires hands-on experience as well, because what happens in a developing process is always beyond predictions of ideal models. So basically, if you are clear what work or position you are interested in, get a project related either as a job/intern/volunteer and obtain some experience. From there you may find all kinds of unexpected issues, but that's the start when you start shaping yourself to an engineer.

Rui recommends the following next steps:

  • Participate in real-life projects that interest you in the field
  • Absorb as much as possible in the process
  • Find the direction you want to sharpen your skills
Thank you Rui for your answer. Rachael E.
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Doris’s Answer

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Hi Valerie,
Technology is an amazing field and with so much growth out there, it’s hard to focus on just one specific technology. Luckily, many companies not only look for degrees but also certifications. Valarie’s answer was right on the money with CompTia if you want to learn about IT Fundamentals. CompTia is a great resource and if you go to their website, they have a lot of different professional groups that range from Artificial Intelligence, Big Data to Drones and my personal favorite Cybersecurity. Start by checking out their articles and maybe join their mailing list.

Another great resource is EDX (and Coursera) which are massive online course providers with many free intro courses. It’s a good way to get your IT knowledge up to speed without committing to one technology.

Lastly, I would say, if you’re interested in something specific, let’s say Cybersecurity. Research the certifications for Cybersecurity for industry jobs and you will get a list of the certifications that industries want from entry-level applicants.
I’ve included a link for the best IT Certifications in 2020!

https://www.certificationcamps.com/best-it-certifications/

Best of luck!

Thank you so much! Rachael E.
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John’s Answer

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Hey Rachael,

All of the advice given is good advice depending on what you want to do. However, the first step is narrowing down what you want to do in the tech field. There are many different kinds of programmers (front vs back end developers, mobile vs PC, etc). But there are also HR, customer service, Finance, Marketing, and other roles in technology that can get you into the field. You have to figure out where you want to go before setting a path forward. A great way to figure out what you want to do is to connect with people in jobs that interest you. I've found that people tend to be willing to help! Send someone a message on LinkedIn asking to learn about their job and life experience for 30 minutes. This will also help grow your network for later when you are looking for the job!

John recommends the following next steps:

  • Explore options
  • Pick where you want to end
  • Plot a path to your goal
  • Be willing to adjust your plan!
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Andrea’s Answer

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Become a programmer/coder. Learning how to program is an important step in entering the tech field regardless of where you ultimately want to end up in your technical career. Programming teaches you how to solve problems: breaking complex problems into smaller more manageable components. It teaches you how to test/validate your work. It teaches you how to prioritize the work, gather requirements, and work with the business.

It's also fun and provides instant gratification... your program either works and does what you wanted it to do, or it doesn't.

Depending on your interests there are a number of courses that you can take. Check out Codeacademy.com for ideas and a place to start.
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Valarie’s Answer

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I would recommend certifications. This still requires taking classes and passing examinations, but can get you started if you haven't finished your degree.

For basic knowledge, I would suggest CompTIA certifications. Then you can decide where you want to go from there.
https://www.comptia.org/certifications

Some companies/organizations also provide specialized certifications. However, you probably want to take some time to understand what path you want to take before investing in something more focused.

1. Cisco - networking
2. Agile, Scrum, Safe - Agile methodology and roles
3. PMI - project management
… and there are many more for Web programming, security, Linux, etc

So definitely get started, see what really interests you, then pursue additional certifications that take you down that path.


Valarie recommends the following next steps:

  • Start with CompTIA IT Fundamentals
  • Determine if there is a tech field that you are really interested in
  • Pursue specialized certifications for the area that you are interested in
Thank you so much Valerie. I appreciate the advice. Rachael E.
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Marie’s Answer

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Internships! Try to take some classes (online or in person at a local university or community college) and apply for an internships. Many companies and startups have a lower barrier to entry so once you get your first internship you can continue to apply to other companies with one internship under your belt. Also you'll make some great connections in the tech world which helps as well.
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Sarbpreet’s Answer

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Many companies today do not require a college degree, Google and Facebook took down those requirements recently. I would say get as much experience as possible, also refer to online education in the field of your choice such as a coding bootcamp if you want to become a developer or a sales bootcamp if you want to go into sales in tech. There are many online and in person programs you can get involved with to build your skills in the tech field. Entry level jobs are a great stepping stone for proving yourself with hard work and accomplishments. It requires a lot of hustle and never letting multiple no's deter you from a job in tech. Work on individual projects you can refer to as experience and accomplishments ie. building your own app, commission only based sales jobs which are easy to start and build skills: Uber and Lyft have a driver recruitment program anyone can do. Hope this was helpful, best of luck in your tech career!
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Diane’s Answer

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I would suggest that you start by looking at certifications in the tech field that interests you, and then apply those skills as an entry level position in an organization that you believe will provide you with growth opportunities. Many companies provide tuition assistance so you can advance your education and along with that, your career. Best of luck to you!
Thank you. Rachael E.
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Graham’s Answer

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Maybe look for an internship. If you are a college student, your university should have a career website to help you find an internship. If not, you can search websites like indeed.com, internships.com, or even linked in. Even if you cannot do a full-time internship there are often part-time roles or even virtual. It can be a good way to gain experience and knowledge and also get your foot in the door. Good luck!
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Syed’s Answer

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Hi Rachael,

You can start by getting certifications in skills with high demand right now like:
1. Microsoft Azure
2. Amazon Web Services
3. Cisco
4. Salesforce
5. Scrum
The learning materials are typically free or at a low cost, and you just need to pay for the fees to take the certification exams (usually under $1000).

If you have some more money, you can think about taking a short career course like General Assembly or Dev Mountain if they're available in your region, or you can take them online ($5500-$15000)

Good luck!
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John’s Answer

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The fastest way into the industry without any prior experience or any certification/qualifications to back you, is to volunteer or attempt at getting an internship. Both of which are unpaid positions, but this would be your best bet unless you happen to have a hookup.
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Anthony’s Answer

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Great question! Nowadays I believe most technology companies do not require a college degree.

In technology, the two biggest fields are sales and product development. From there, I'd consider which field you find most interesting then consider what experience do you need to be considered for a role in these areas.

For sales - retail experience can be a plus especially for entry-level sales roles.

For product development - there are many different boot camps and certification courses you could consider taking to get engineering or design experience.

I'd encourage exploring more on CodeAcademy, General Assembly, Flatiron, or even your local community or state colleges. These options are far less expensive than a college degree and you can usually find a loan provider very easily.
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Dinesh’s Answer

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Lot of options are there. Some certification from online courses will help you to learn in your interested area. Also you can do free lancing by having good profile in any online free lancing sites.
Even there are some online communities like Kaggle, Analyticsvidhya, where can learn and earn data Analytics as my domian. You can see something like this for other domains also.
And if you feel you are more strong in your domain. You can look for a startup with some new ideas. Because big companies are supporting startups as their CSR activities.
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monica’s Answer

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Hello Rachel,

In my suggestion, working in the field of tech without any college degree is mostly driven by interest. There are people out there who have done bachelor's in mechanical engineering but are working in tech side, to be specific in software engineering. It's more about how you build your profile matching the market demands.
Okay, given that we assume you find software development as an intriguing task, you can always start by learning one programming language (there are plenty of online FREE and PAID resources), then build something that adds to your profile. You can also start your career in remote, work from home jobs, or in freelancing (obviously once you get proficient).

Having said that, all the best!! Explore the enormous opportunities in tech!!
Thanks
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Kirti’s Answer

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Hey Rachael,

I post graduated in Human Resources , have 6 years of experience and the firm with which i am at the moment is my 3rd. All throughout my tenure i have only worked in out and out HR intensive roles and in my current role i am an HR Project Manager who implements systems. How i accidentally started exploring IT/Technology was, i would volunteer to test/ understand the back ends of systems that i used (can be something as simple as your phone too) whenever there was an issue. Gradually i realized, i was learning more than others and eventually became the person who would be approached within teams for any system related issues.

Then came my break, when for all employees there was a system to be launched, that although would be spearheaded by IT, but they needed someone from HR who could give requirements, and there i was deep diving into all system conversations day in day out. After a point my understanding was at par with the IT folks, and although i did not have in depth technical expertise but i knew what needed applying when. Thus, i moved into an HR Project Manager role, where i get HR systems implemented, and now i am privy to even the coding that goes into making a system what it is.. and hence i believe you can imagine what i can do next.. :)

Hope this helps.

Thanks,
Kirti :)
Thank you Kirti, I appreciate it. Rachael E.
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Jorge’s Answer

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I recommend you to start in software testing; it has a low entry barrier.
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Donna’s Answer

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Hi Rachel, If you understand computers and how they work already, or are the type of person who thinks logically, you are already going in the right direction. There are many self help webinars and books on programing, internet information, and design. When I first started in the computer world, I went into the Army! They taught me how to operate mainframe computers. I then started doing some courses at the base school for programing. I ended up moving up into a new field of programming before I ever received a degree. It really depends on your determination. I was lucky because the Army as well as the companies I have worked for helped to pay for my college course because in the end - it helped them out. The toughest part is getting your foot in the door. My foot was the Army. Yours may be your HS technology group or a local IT group. Even after years of school and working, I still take courses to help me understand the changes that happen daily in security, hacking, programming and more. Good luck!
I appreciate all of your advice thank you Donna. Rachael E.
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