Your complete guide for getting a tech job without a degree

By

Working in tech means good pay, flexibility, and a chance to solve big problems and advance The tech industry also has a reputation for an having an “it” factor. Known for hip offices, perks, and collegiate atmospheres, it can seem from the outside like a party you aren’t invited to. 

Especially if you never went to college.  

We’re here with some good news: the exclusivity is ending. According to research by LinkedIn, 72% of employers think that bootcamp graduates are just as prepared and likely to be high performers as candidates with computer science degrees. Another 12% think that bootcamp grads are more prepared and more likely to succeed than traditional job candidates.

Yes, you can find a job in tech without a degree. We’ll tell you how. 

How do you get into tech without a degree? 

As the tech industry has grown, the talent pool hasn’t kept up with the labor demands. This means that recruiters are more open to alternative qualifications in hiring. 

That doesn’t mean it isn’t competitive, though. If you’re a candidate without a degree, here are three things you can do now to build your qualifications and get ready to start your job search.

  1. Map out your transferrable skills. While you might think that the service industry or teaching have nothing to do with the job you want in tech, you’d be surprised to see how many soft skills transfer. Map out your skills like project management, troubleshooting, or customer service and articulate how they relate to the job you want.
  2. Enroll in a tech bootcamp. Bootcamps are designed to fast-track career changers into the job they want. Bootcamps teach the most relevant tech skills in intensive formats, with instructor support and career services. 
  3. Build your network. It’s all about who you know. Fortunately, this is within your power to change. Start attending industry events and meetups, join online groups, and reach out to friends or acquaintances already in the industry for an informational interview. 

4 things that matter more to tech recruiters than a degree

Once you’ve started reskilling and learning how to talk about yourself, you’re ready to start your job hunt. If don’t have a college degree or haven’t held a professional position before, this process can be intimidating. 

Push away the imposter syndrome and lean into your different background as a plus. Strengths that employers cite liking across bootcamp grads include discipline, grit, diversity, and recent industry-relevant training. Here are four areas you can focus on that tech recruiters will notice:

Technical skills 

Whether it’s programming or UI design, you should have technical skills in at least one area to get a job in tech. Multiple programming languages or hard skills will make you more appealing to employers. 

Some companies use a technical interview or coding challenge to analyze a candidate’s tech skills. Others rely on your portfolio and what you say in your interview to assess your needs, so remember to highlight these in your interview.  

A portfolio of work samples

Employers care more about what you can do than your formal education. The tricky part is documenting your work and telling your story in a way that highlights your accomplishments. Create a simple website or portfolio page that shares about you, your professional background, and several samples of your work.

Being a self-starter

In the workplace, you need to problem-solve and improve skills on the go. Especially in tech, employers want team members who won’t just sit around waiting for someone to tell them what to do. 

Demonstrate your desire to learn and get better. Use your nontraditional background to demonstrate your self-discipline and ability to manage competing priorities. If you attended a bootcamp while working full-time or taught yourself skills on your own, talk about it. 

Communication skills

Even for technical roles, communication skills are important. You’ll need strong written and oral communication skills in order to collaborate with coworkers or clients. You can demonstrate these through your cover letter, portfolio, and how you conduct yourself in the interview process. Think of a situation where you’ve had to manage a complex communication or collaboration challenge, and share about that in your interview. 

If you don’t consider this your strength, put aside extra time to practice answering common interview questions. Write down your key accomplishments and run through a practice interview with a friend or mentor. Ask someone to review your resume and portfolio to make sure that it’s clear and free of typos. 

Entry-level tech jobs that don’t require a degree

So, what kind of job can you land without a degree? Here are the top entry-level jobs you can find in tech.

  • Digital marketing specialist. Digital marketing specialists design and implement digital marketing campaigns for channels including social media, PPC, and other paid digital advertising.
  • Marketing analyst. Marketing analysts analyze user research, industry data, and market conditions to determine pricing and product opportunities for a business.
  • Data analyst. Data analysts have been named one of the fastest-growing career fields in the U.S. Data analysts analyze data to help businesses make decisions for a known problem. 
  • Web designer. Web designers create designs and wireframes for how a website should look and flow.
  • UX designer. UX designers research user behavior and create the user flows, visual designs, and information architecture for websites, apps, or software. Learn more about why you should become a UX designer
  • Junior developer. Junior developers are entry-level coders who write and debug code for apps, websites, or other products. 
  • Web developer. Web designers write code to build websites.  

Companies that hire bootcamp grads

According to Career Karma, the employers hiring the largest number of bootcamp grads are Amazon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Here are the top 10 companies hiring bootcamp grads:

  1. Amazon
  2. Google
  3. Facebook
  4. Microsoft
  5. Freelance/Self-employed
  6. JP Morgan Chase & Co.
  7. IBM
  8. Apple
  9. Accenture
  10. Booz Allen Hamilton

According to Career Karma, all of these top employers hired more bootcamp grads in the last few years. Amazon more than doubled the number of bootcamp grads it hired between 2019 and 2020. However, look outside of big tech for job opportunities as well. Many enterprise-level companies including retail, finance, defense contractors, and professional services have large tech departments with ongoing hiring needs. 

Highest-paying tech jobs without a degree

A 2020 Course Report study found that the median salary of coding bootcamp grads jumps by a massive 63% after graduation—from $40,000 to $65,000. You could pay off a house with the extra quarter of a million dollars you’d make in the next decade. 

And that’s just the starting salary. After some time in the tech industry, you can move on to higher-skilled positions that pay more. Here are a few high-paying positions in tech that bootcamp grads can hold with a little experience under their belts, with median base pay from Glassdoor. 

Software developer ($94,672). Software developers write, modify, and test code for use in software development. 

Full-stack developer ($98,185). Full-stack developers are in demand for their ability to manage both front-end and back-end development. 

Software engineer ($101,946). Software engineers apply engineering principles to program development and data management.

Data scientist ($104,568). Data scientists manage data collection and analysis and predictive modelling to interpret big data. Learn more about a career as a data scientist

Product manager ($108,375). Product managers usually come from a developer or designer background and manage the team and workflows of product development. 

No matter your area of interest, there’s a job out there for you in tech even if you don’t have a college degree. 

First, do your research to find a career track that’ll suit your strengths. Upskill through a course or bootcamp that offers mentorship and peer support. Build your online portfolio and practice interview talking points about your transferable skills. 

Put these ingredients together along with a little patience, and you’ll find the tech job of your dreams. The tech industry will grow for decades to come, meaning there’s room for everyone.