Want to start fresh with a new role in tech? The global tech industry is worth roughly $5.2 trillion – we don’t blame you for wanting to get involved!
Tech is a huge field with many different sectors, and it can be hard to figure out where your skills and experience might be in demand. Plus, if you’re coming to tech with no prior industry experience, finding a way in can seem intimidating at first. There’s no denying that the industry is on the up-and-up, but how can you make it work for you?
That’s where we come in. We’re here to bust some myths and share some helpful tips about the industry, so you can approach your new career with confidence.
In this guide we will cover:
We’re ready to bet that when we say ‘tech,’ you think about start-up culture in Silicon Valley. Sprawling campuses with casual dress codes and slides instead of stairs, staffed by wall-to-wall men in gray hoodies. That’s what we’re talking about here, right?
Not necessarily! While it’s easy to be put off by the stereotypes surrounding tech, most of them aren’t actually grounded in reality. They shouldn’t deter you from forging ahead with a new career in tech.
Let’s go over some common myths about the industry, so you can get the facts straight and decide, on your own terms, whether tech is right for you.
Or Uber, or even AirBnB – big-name, high-impact start-ups with that ‘move fast and break things’ mentality. It’s easy to imagine tech companies as new, unprecedented entities in the business world, forging a culture that may not feel like a great fit if you’ve come from a more traditional workplace.
The truth is that tech is a crucial part of almost every other industry now. Think about it: do you know of any major businesses that don’t involve some element of tech in 2022?
It’s practically a requirement in the internet age for every business to have a website – someone has to design and code those websites. More and more companies have their own mobile apps to keep the user experience as seamless as possible, and those apps don’t just come out of nowhere. Ecommerce is everywhere now, and the systems that allow you to buy and sell online need to be built, managed and maintained.
These are just a few examples of tech-based roles and skills that can lead to a career outside of the start-up world. Big-name companies that predate the very existence of tech are hiring to keep up with new industry norms, allowing tech workers to do what they love within a more traditional workplace culture.
If you’ve seen The Social Network, with its rooms full of men in flip-flops hunched over keyboards, you’ll probably have some suspicions about the industry. Sadly, they’re not totally without merit. 72% of women in tech report that men outnumber them two to one in business meetings, and the remaining 26% report an even worse ratio in the boardroom.
While these statistics paint a bleak picture, it’s not the whole story. The gender gap in tech used to be taken for granted. Now it’s a topic of conversation, and companies are making serious efforts to foster better working environments for women.
Gender-neutral recruitment processes are increasingly common in tech. You’re more likely than ever to find gender-neutral language in job descriptions, or blind hiring techniques at the pre-interview stage. Workplaces are also more and more committed to providing benefits that will support women, such as childcare and post-maternity support.
All this work is underpinned by initiatives like #TechSheCan, aiming to reach new graduates and provide them with resources to help them get ahead in tech.
The fight for gender parity in tech is far from over. Still, women hoping to work in the industry will likely find it more welcoming than they expect.
Nobody likes crunch – the dreaded late-stage push on a major project, with whole teams pulling long hours to get a product ready on time. Tech in particular has a reputation for frequent crunch, which can deter potential applicants who value their work-life balance.
Those late nights at the office aren’t necessarily an industry norm! While start-ups can be more prone to crunch, as can high-profile industries like game development, there are plenty of companies where it simply doesn’t happen.
Tech is also a great industry for flexible working. It’s possible to make a good living working part-time or freelance in tech, managing your own hours without the office turning into your second home.
Avoiding long hours is a simple matter of research. Ask about expected hours at interview, or look into workplace culture before you apply, and you can make informed decisions about where you’d like to work!
This one speaks for itself, and it couldn’t be more untrue. While there is a lot of programming work available in tech, the apps and websites that programmers build don’t simply take care of themselves once they’re done! Programmers in tech are backed up by a huge cast of marketers, designers, content creators, project managers, data analysts, and more.
A project manager will ensure that programmers, designers and marketers work together for a timely and successful launch. Content creators ensure that the finished product stays fresh and current after it goes live. Data analysts trawl through user information to get a clearer picture of how the finished product can improve – then take it back to the rest of the team to make those improvements happen.
Tech is a collaborative process, and there’s a huge demand for skills that go beyond Python or C++. Let us walk you through some common roles within the industry, so you can get an idea of where you might fit in!
Because tech is such a sprawling industry, we can’t cover every possible role in this guide. Here are just a few roles you might want to look into further, particularly if you’re new to the industry.
Average salary: $61,000 - $108,000
Are you a skilled coder or programmer? Do you have a keen eye for detail and an enthusiasm for working to a brief? Can you think creatively to solve frustrating problems?
If so, you could thrive as a web or mobile developer.
Developers build the web- and app-based products that users interact with. Aside from the obvious scripting and coding work, you may also have to liaise with clients and other departments within your company – and you’ll certainly spend a lot of time quality testing your work!
Most developers will start their careers at the Junior or Apprentice level, learning from other team members and building smaller projects. As you progress, you might become a Senior or even a Lead developer, mentoring more junior colleagues and taking on more challenging work.
If you’re hoping to move away from full-time coding and into the world of management, you might even advance to the level of Technical Director. At this level, you’d take responsibility for the direction of your company’s web development department, handling staffing and budget as well as project management.
Average salary: $89,500 - $134,400
User experience (UX) is an umbrella term for a range of different careers. In this guide, we’ll look specifically at UX design – analyzing user needs, then using that analysis to improve a final product.
A UX designer will spend time interviewing end users to understand their needs and wants, as well as conducting user and competitor research. You’ll design and build prototype products informed by your research, and work with web or mobile developers to implement your ideas.
Some UX designers choose to progress into more managerial roles, focusing on recruitment, project management, and resource allocation. As UX Manager or even UX Director, you’ll have the opportunity to shape the direction of user experience in your company.
Alternatively, you might prefer to stay in a more technical role. Many UX designers choose to specialize in a particular area of UX, such as user interface design. You might even transition away from coding altogether, and become a fully-focused UX Researcher!
Average salary: $69,500 - $84,500
If you’re a logical thinker with a knack for analytical thought, you might be a data analyst in the making. While there are data analytics roles in every field, analytical skills are in particular demand in tech.
Tech runs on information, and the data gathered from end users of a website or an app is vital to any tech company. A data analyst’s job is to turn that raw data into a coherent narrative. The work of a data analyst can inform company-level business decisions about sales, design, marketing, funding, and recruitment – so you’ll always know that your work is making a real impact.
After progressing to a Senior Data Analyst role, you might keep climbing the ladder of seniority, advancing to Director of Analytics and managing the work of a whole team. Over time, you could end up shaping the data strategy of your entire company.
If management isn’t your thing, you can specialize in a particular area of data analysis instead. Moving in that direction, you’d be able to focus on a specific niche – financial analysis, for example, or digital marketing analysis.
Ultimately, you may even choose to become a Data Scientist. While it may sound like an extension of data analysis, data science focuses on using existing data to predict future developments. This isn’t a strictly linear career progression, so if you have your eye on data science, consider developing your skills in data modeling and machine learning!
Average salary: $68,000 - $176,000
Whether you’re a creatively-minded writer or graphic designer, or a more data-focused marketing analyst, you could find a career as a digital marketer in tech!
In the early days of the iPod, Apple’s sleek, colorful marketing stood out from the crowd. Tech has always relied on savvy marketing for its success, and marketing roles in tech tend to be well-paid as a result.
You might start out as a Content Marketer, producing website copy and blogs that add personality to a company’s brand. Roles like this usually involve learning and using SEO best practice, so that your company is front and center in search engine results. A Content Marketer might also produce social media posts, graphics, or even videos.
From there, you could progress to a more editorial position as Content Manager. You’d have oversight of your team’s creative work, and you’d take editorial responsibility to steer the company’s brand voice in the right direction.
If you’re more focused on social media marketing, you could become a Social Media Manager instead. Working with writers, graphic designers and social media influencers, you’d create and implement a content calendar to market your company’s products effectively online.
Believe it or not, it’s easier than you might think!
For one thing, universities aren’t necessarily teaching the skills that the industry is looking for. A degree in computer science may not give you a thorough grounding in programming languages, or an understanding of what makes good web design. While academia is still adapting to the demands of the tech industry, all-important roles are going unfilled in tech.
It helps, too, that tech is growing at a significantly faster pace than most other industries. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that tech occupations will grow by 11% through to 2029 in the USA. Relative to other occupations, that’s a huge amount of growth.
It’s also worth factoring in the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw almost every industry pivot to remote working overnight. Telecommunications services, remote desktop services, even remote IT support – it’s all become business-critical over the past few years, and it’s caused a huge boom in tech.
With the right preparation and research, you can find your way into tech more easily than ever before.
You don’t need a degree – in computer science or otherwise – to build a career in tech. So what do you need? The answer is twofold: you need the right skills, and you need the right state of mind.
It’s never been easier to develop new skills independently. There’s an incredible number of online tech courses out there, teaching everything from coding and programming languages to IT security certifications.
Not only will these courses teach you the skills you need to thrive in tech – they’ll show employers that you’re committed to personal development. In an industry where new technology is appearing on the market all the time, that willingness to learn and grow is crucial.
If you’re a programmer, build something of your own – an app, a website, even a game! Having something substantial to show an employer can give you a real edge in the hiring process.
And whatever your skill set, consider a certification. A degree may not be necessary, but a recognised qualification of some kind can help you to stand out from other candidates.
If you’ve never worked in tech before, that shouldn’t deter you!
First, tailor your CV or resume to the roles you want. Foreground the skills, experience and credentials that show how you fit the job description. You want a prospective employer to see at a glance why you’re right for the role.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t have specific experience in tech. You need to show that you have transferable experience which has earned you the skills you’ll need to thrive in a tech-based role.
The way to do that is to research, research, research! Make sure you’re applying with an understanding of the field and an awareness of recent industry developments. This will help you frame yourself effectively in your resume or CV – and if you’re invited to interview, it will put you in a great position to show your interest in the role.
If you find that you’re struggling to get a foot in the door, consider aiming lower. It might sound counterintuitive, but many companies promote from within wherever they can. If you can find a way into the industry – even if it’s in a more junior role – you’ll be much better placed to advance.
Lastly, remember to network! Tech is a fast-moving industry full of opportunities for those with the right connections. Knowing the right people could give you the inside scoop on new start-ups or business ventures – all of which will need employees. Final Thoughts For candidates with the right skills, tech can offer a wealth of incredible career opportunities. While the industry can seem impenetrable from the outside, it’s so much easier than you think to find your way in!
If you’re looking to tailor your resume or CV for a tech-based role, check out our Help Center for all the resources you’ll ever need. Whichever direction you decide to take in the tech industry, we’ve got you covered.
Content Writer + Resume Expert
Waverly is a freelance writer, former HR officer and current international traveller. They believe in doing your research, showing up prepared, and bringing your passions with you to work. They've helped countless job seekers create better resumes and cover letters to improve and grow their careers.
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