4 Problems With Starting a Tech Career and How to Solve Them
As more aspects of human life become increasingly dependent on technology, tech is equally reinforcing its status as a lucrative career path. From traditional tech fields like programming to less popular options like tech support, there are a lot of exciting opportunities in the tech world.
Unfortunately, while a lot of people want to transition to tech, they face a lot of barriers they aren’t entirely sure how to overcome. We’ve put together four common problems with making a transition to tech and how to solve them:
It’s commonplace for job seekers to feel unfit for a tech role without a degree in a tech-related field. When you think of all the complex stuff that goes into making a tech product, it’s tempting to feel out of place. However, in as much as a technical degree can be very useful, it is not the only gateway to a tech career.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 26 percent of IT professionals do not even have a college degree. An even larger percentage do not have a degree in a tech-related field. Unlike in most careers, hiring managers in tech are more interested in your ability to get the job done rather than how shiny your degrees are.
Your tech CV is not only about your Master’s and Doctorate, but also about your skills and experience. This is why you’ll need to pay more attention to acquiring relevant skills and working experience. Rather than sweating about your lack of a tech degree, consider:
Pursuing a Relevant Certification
Seek out quality courses in your field and get certified on them. Online courses hold a lot of weight in tech. If you get certified by reputable learning platforms, it can augment your lack of relevant academic credentials to a significant extent.
And no, it’s not just about the certification, it’s about the skills you get in the process of getting certified. Coursera, edX, Codeacademy, MIT OpenCourseware, LinkedIn Learning, and Khan Academy are great places to pick up the skills and certifications you need to transition to tech.
Building Up Experience
Recruiters may excuse your lack of academic degrees, but they may not overlook your lack of experience. Tech is a hands-on industry. Recruiters want to see what you’ve built or helped build.
Once you’ve acquired relevant skills, as a newcomer, you’ll need to acquire reasonable experience to boost your chances of getting hired. Joining open-source projects, taking up volunteer tech roles, and freelancing are great ways to acquire relevant tech experience to help you get hired.
Joining Relevant Groups and Networks
Within the tech industry, it’s not only about what you know, but also who you know. That’s how stuff works in tech. This is why it is incredibly important to be a part of relevant tech networks (both offline and online) once you’re ready to enter the tech world. You’ll find relevant tech communities on Reddit, Quora, LinkedIn, and even Facebook, where you can link up with established professionals in your target field. When you link up with the right people, breaking into tech becomes much easier.
Ultimately, academic degrees could play an important role in how far you go in your career, especially in workplace role progression. However, most times, it won’t stop you from getting through the recruiter’s door. If having a technical degree has kept you from making that transition, it’s time to rethink.
2. Tech Courses Are Too Costly
Are professional tech courses costly? Yes, sometimes they can be a bit pricey—the official Oracle Database 11g certification costs around $2,498. The popular CCIE Routing and Switching certification has a price tag of $1,850, while the Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr) certification costs around $15,000. As steep as these price tags appear, they are cheaper compared to some equivalent academic degrees.
The CCIE Routing and Switching certification, for instance, is considered the Ph.D. of CISCO but is way cheaper than an actual Ph.D. Being certified marks you out as a highly-skilled network engineer, and you could potentially be earning serious money working full-time.
However, you don’t have to sweat it if you don’t have the financial power. For almost every pricey tech course you find on the internet, there’s almost always a cheaper or free alternative. The good part is, you don’t need a pricey tech course to be considered good enough. There are different tech niches where you can get high-paying jobs by completing any of the endless numbers of available free online programs.
You’ll find a lot of cheap Oracle and CISCO courses on Coursera. Of course, you’ll also find thousands of other high-quality but cheap courses on web development, app development, graphic design, and several other tech niches. You’ll also find them learning platforms like edX, Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, and several others. You don’t need pricey and fancy tech courses to make that transition into tech, don’t let it stop you.
3. Age Is Not on Your Side
Tech is stereotyped as an industry reserved for younger individuals. Just like in most industries, ageism is real in tech. It may seem harder to pursue a career in tech if you are in your late 40s or older. Hiring managers might sometimes opt for a younger individual over someone older, even when the two have similar qualifications.
However, just like tech is not an exclusive reserve of any gender, it’s also not reserved for any age group. Ageism might be real, but there are a lot of ways to get past it. Some of them include:
Leverage Experience and Transferable Skills
The one asset an older applicant has over a younger one is typically experience. It’s important to make the most of it. If you’re transitioning to tech, you might not have tech-related experience, but your skills and experience in other fields may be valued if you exaggerate it well enough. Hiring managers also pay attention to transferable skills, even if you’re trying to switch from a dramatically different career.
However, if you switch between related careers like maybe from health science to building health-related software, your experience and skills might help to erode any age-related discrimination you might face. Target tech areas you have experience in, and your age could be an asset rather than a disadvantage.
Go for Easy-to-Learn Tech Niches
If age is already an issue, it might not be a smart move to go for tech niches with a steeper learning curve. Transitioning from your current career to a field like AI or machine learning might take significantly more time than taking up a tech niche like web development. By all means, go for what you have passion for, but choose wisely.
According to this detailed 2021 age and industry data provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, a significant number of people between the age of 45 and 65 were employed in tech-related fields in 2021. Older people are getting hired. Don’t let the age factor stop you from making that transition.
4. You Don’t Know Where to Start
Technology is a monster of a field. There are so many sub-sectors that it could be overwhelming to decide where to start from. If you’re stuck wondering which tech niche you should start with, here are two important points to help you get started:
Research Career Options
Researching career options in tech can be a bit tricky if you don’t have any prior interests in any specific field. A good place to start is your current career. Are you in the health sector? Taking up a career in health technology might be a good idea. Are you into agriculture? Entertainment? Narrow down similar opportunities in tech.
Doing this will allow you to transfer relevant skills. If you prefer something completely different, Techskills.org career assessment tool and YourFreeCareerTest are two popular tools for narrowing down which career path will best suit your skills and interests. Write down as many options as possible, and cross-reference it with point two below.
What Are Your Goals?
What do you hope to achieve in tech? Do you need a side hustle to support your main income source? Do you need a full-time job that offers stability? Do you want to solve problems in your existing business?
Ask yourself key questions about what you want to achieve in tech, and cross-reference with the results from point one above. For instance, if you need a stable income source, you should probably go for tech niches that offer better stability and pay.
Act Now, Make That Transition
The hardest part about making the transition to tech is being overwhelmed with the pieces you’re missing and worrying about what could go wrong.
As long as you have a genuine passion for tech and have done your due diligence, tech can be a rewarding career path for you. So, by all means, go for it, make that transition now.
Want to start your career in a remote tech find? Here are some of the best sites to help you find your dream job in tech.
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