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. 

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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. 

What Do IT Jobs Pay?

According to Payscale, the average salary for an IT job is $82,000 per year. However, this value depends on many factors such as level of formal education, experience, skills, and location. Even so, most IT jobs pay well, even for entry-level employees and people without a four-year degree.

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How to Get an IT Job With a GED

Research schools

The General Educational Development (GED) test works as an alternative to a high school diploma for students who didn’t earn one. It is widely accepted and many colleges admit students with a GED certification. It is crucial to receive IT training before you qualify as an IT professional. 

Decide on a Career Track

During your research, you’ll come across colleges, technical schools, and coding bootcamps that offer IT courses. You will have to decide on the best schooling option for you and take appropriate steps to enroll and receive an education.

Receive Training

Sign up, get admitted, and start learning. This is where you learn the necessary IT skills to be considered a professional in the industry. This part takes six months to four years, depending on your schooling choice and learning pace. 

Prepare a Resume 

Upon completing your job training and schooling, you need to create a resume to help you in your job search. Your resume highlights your skills, education, and experience while establishing you as a competent candidate for an IT job. We recommend that you learn how to write a functional resume

Apply for Open Job positions

Look for open job positions and apply accordingly to the job that best fits your skills. Find job openings directly on company websites or utilize one of the many job boards available on the internet. 

Computer Support Specialist

What you’ll do: Can you be the calm, patient voice giving excellent fix-it advice that goes beyond, “Did you reboot yet?” Computer support specialists can work with co-workers or external customers, by phone or in person, depending on the role. The primary emphasis here is on soft skills and customer service, followed by technical knowledge and experience that can be earned without a degree.

What it pays: The media salary for a computer support specialist is around $21 per hour.

Find all computer support specialist jobs on Monster.

Do you have the entrepreneurial spirit and skills needed to succeed? 

Before you dive into your startup, you must be certain that it is what you want to do. Starting a company is very different from working as an employee at someone else’s firm, and many responsibilities and stressors come with the territory. If you are motivated and inspired to start, don’t doubt yourself. However, if you are not sure how you feel about it, don’t jump in too quickly.

“True entrepreneurship is a full-time, 24/7 job,” said Tom Portesy, president of MFV Expositions – producers of Franchise Expo West, Franchise Expo South and the International Franchise Expo. “Are you ready for time away from friends [and] family? Are you ready for rejection, disappointment and failure? Are you prepared for countless sleepless nights – risking everything you’ve got? It can be immensely rewarding, but do you have the spirit to excel?”

Grech added that entrepreneurs must have patience and perseverance, even in the face of failure.

“If you’re someone who needs reliability and consistency, do not open a business,” she said. “There are no guarantees when starting your own company. The highs are high, and the lows are low, and it’s important to maintain your patience when the business is not going in the direction you’re steering.”

Key takeaway:Key takeaway: If you don’t fare well with uncertainty or potential failure, you might not be cut out to be an entrepreneur.

Reasons why you can get a cybersecurity job without a degree

Reason #1:  The market is in the employee’s favor.  First, keep in mind that what an employer wants doesn’t exactly mean what an employer gets. The cybersecurity job market is growing so quickly that employers are having trouble filling positions, so they are in a situation where they have to consider hiring candidates with less college or work experience and training them up in house.  Again, I have seen many cases where employers have been willing, or forced to do just that.

Reason #2:  A degree isn’t a regulated requirement.  Cybersecurity is a field that by nature doesn’t have a regulating body or structure.  Consider for example that in the field of medicine you must have a medical degree. This of course is not the case with technical fields like cyber security.  Employers are free to hire whomever they want, including those without a degree.

Reason #3:  Certifications can fill in as a substitute for a degree.  The field of cybersecurity is blessed with lots of alternative qualification options, namely certifications.  Because of certifications, you and I in the cybersecurity field aren’t stuck in a situation where only a degree can serve as an option to prove our knowledge.  This fact has helped thousands of technology professionals over the years build a career without the college commitment.  See our article on the best certifications for beginners here.

Reason #4:  College isn’t the only way to learn.  There are a lot of alternative learning options for cybersecurity professionals.  Going back to the medical school example, I’m pretty sure the only way to legitimately learn medicine is through a university program. But that’s not true for cybersecurity.  Cybersecurity offers many learning options outside of a college setting including trade schools, technical schools and online learning programs. Online programs, such as O’Reilly’s Safari Books Online, Cybrary, Udemy and Pluralsight are great examples.  And these options are cheaper than college for the most part and more convenient.

Reason #5:  Many existing cyber professionals and hiring managers don’t have a degree.  You may find when you get into the cybersecurity field that a lot of the professionals, team leaders, and managers that are well established in the field don’t have a degree themselves.  This is often more common than in other professions, because those professionals that have been in the tech field for 15 or 20 years came into the field when degree programs related to information technology or cybersecurity were few and far between.  I have seen may successful senior level professionals, managers, and business owners who don’t have a cybersecurity-related degree or even any degree at all.

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.

Help Desk

Working the IT help desk can be a great entry-level job. As a help desk professional, your main responsibilities are to provide technical help and support. That could mean setting up and repairing computers or responding to a customer’s question about how to use their computer. It could also mean performing routine maintenance of a company’s computer networks and internet systems or teaching staff how to use new technologies.

A help desk technician must have knowledge and experience of computer networks and systems, programs, and mobile devices, but this is not the only requirement. Although desk technicians possess a good understanding of information technology, it is equally important to have soft skills, such as communication skills and recognition of the importance of customer service..

As far as entry level jobs go, the help desk is a perfect place to launch your career in IT. You will be thrown into the thick of things. Be ready to learn as much as possible and grow your skills. 

Best Jobs in IT Without Programming

Not all IT jobs require programming eComparably’sere are Comparably’s list of jobs not requiring a degree or programming skills. 

  • Sales engineer – These professionals use their technical and engineering backgrounds to sell tech products and services to companies. The average salary is $79,880 without a degree, and $94,478 with a degree. 
  • Product marketing associate – They develop marketing plans for products and produce supporting materials. The average salary is $76,233 without a degree, and $74,954 with a degree.
  • Web/visual designer – Develops the layout, content, and design of web pages. The average salary is $62,969 without a degree, and $65,492 with a degree.
  • Sales rep/associate – Sells a product or service. The average salary is $60,684 without a degree, and $68,122 with a degree.
  • Social media/community manager – They work through various online outlets and platforms to build a positive online brand reputation, disseminate company news, and promote a product or service. The average salary is $58,899 without a degree, and $48,994 with a degree. 

The Big Picture

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects employment in computer and information technology occupations to grow 13 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.This means the addition of 667,600 new jobs. The demand is fueled by cloud computing, big data, and the growing need for and information security. The bureau’s latest Occupational Outlook Handbook lists the fastest-growing computing, and IT careers, but many require a college degree.

SOC Analyst 

A Security Operations Center Analyst is an entry level position that is part of a team to monitor and fight threats to an organization’s IT infrastructure, and to assess security systems and measures for weaknesses and possible improvements. Typically, the SOC consists of multiple analysts and other security professionals. Often, you work together in a single physical location. A SOC may be an internal team serving a single enterprise or an outsourced service providing security for one or more external clients.

SOC analyst is a job title held by infosec beginners and more experienced pros alike. The job can be a great stepping stone into a cybersecurity career, but it’s also demanding. Cybersecurity is a growing field and if you are interested in this path, A SOC analyst position is an amazing place to start. 

Do you have any real-world experience in the industry?

Hands-on experience in the industry you are pursuing is helpful, giving you the knowledge to see if you are on the right track. If you are unsure about starting a business without a degree, consider diving into your chosen industry to gain experience – perhaps working on your company as a side project before turning your idea into a full-time business.

Grech recommended volunteering with someone in the field before starting your own business, to learn if you like the industry, people and hours. People in some industries benefit from an apprenticeship or an internship.

“This will help you decide if you like the career enough to dedicate the time to starting your own business, and it will also help you assess your skills to know if you need further education to establish yourself as a professional in that field,” Grech said.  

For Randy Wyner, founder and president of the restaurant franchise Chronic Tacos, there was no choice when it came to getting a college education. His responsibility to support his young son meant he had to get a job instead of going to school. After working his way up to a managerial position at Jiffy Lube in just a few years, Wyner knew he had all the experience and drive he needed to become a business owner. He allowed himself time to develop his entrepreneurial spirit before starting his journey.

“Hands-on learning helped me understand how to manage a business quicker, whereas college students learn mostly by memorization techniques and tricks,” Wyner said. “Following this path helped me grasp what to do and what not to do when running a business. Although college may educate you on business elements, you can’t learn how to run a business until you actually become an entrepreneur.”

Boost Your Job Search

Don't just sit around letting your tech talents go to waste. There are plenty of opportunities to earn a great paycheck even though you don't have a college degree. Could you use some help getting started?Join Monster for free today. You can get job alerts sent directly to your inbox to cut down on time spent looking through ads. Companies are waiting to welcome you aboard, so get started today!

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