Welcome to Procareer Academy’s Tech Career Advice where we help you navigate your journey to a successful tech career.
It is natural to have questions about getting a job as a software developer based on your educational background, prior coding knowledge, past work experience, the courseware you plan to take, etc. We seek your well-being and want to be a partner in your career growth and our advice below is based on industry research, employer feedback and past experience. When we tell you that some things work better than others, it is backed by practical experience. You are welcome to validate this information by doing your own research. So, let’s get started.
Through the years we helped students get into Technology careers, we have heard questions like these and more:
- I read that non-technical people are getting hired as software developers. What qualities do I need to become one?
- What does it take to be a good programmer? Does it need a high IQ? I think I am smart enough to become a coder.
- How do I get my first tech job? What should I learn?
- I am currently working in a dead end job. How do I start my tech career?
- I want a more secure financial future and growth in my career. What is my path forward?
If this sounds like you, read on! Firstly, let’s be upfront with each other. There’s no point telling you that “anyone can become a programmer” like the flashy advertisements you see on the Internet. Instead, we will tell you what the reality is, so after reading this information, you can make an informed decision and there are no shattered dreams. At the same time, we consider it our duty to tell you what may not work for you too. Let’s dive in further
What does it take to break into the Tech Industry?
In terms of the educational backgrounds of our applicants, here is what we see:
- High School and some college
- AA degree
- BS degree or higher (not in Computer Science)
- BS degree or higher in Computer Science
As far as prior employment is concerned, we come across those who have never worked, laid off from their last job and career changers looking to enter the tech industry. The good news is that there are pathways for people from these various backgrounds to obtain their first technology job. Read on!
Coding requires Resilience and Problem-Solving skills
Coding is a realm filled with countless challenges and it requires you to accept failures as stepping stones to success. It takes a unique blend of perseverance, patience, and problem-solving skills to excel in this field. Learning never stops in this ever-evolving arena. Not everyone is cut out for long hours in front of a computer, self guided learning or for making independent decisions. Some people prefer the comfort of following instructions. This is the first hint that not everyone is naturally wired for coding.
It’s astonishing to see how people with little computer knowledge and just basic math skills take the plunge into coding. It often leads to a sense of being overwhelmed. It’s like trying to build a house without understanding the basics of construction.
I have a Computer Science degree but still no job. It's really frustrating.
When it comes to finding a job in the tech world, having a Computer Science (CS) degree might not be the golden ticket it’s often thought to be. Unless you attended a super fancy school, a CS degree alone won’t guarantee you a job. In fact, getting that first job can be tough for everyone, whether you have a CS degree or not. There is one advantage though – CS majors find it easier to get interviews. It does open doors. But here’s the catch: when it comes to actually getting the job offer, it’s no walk in the park for anyone. Unless you were top notch during your CS major days and really wrote a lot of code or mastered algorithms, just having the degree won’t cut it. In other words, if you stood out because of all the awesome things you did during your CS major, then that’s a big plus. But having the degree alone isn’t enough – it’s about the skills and experiences you gained along the way. Remember, in the tech world, it’s not just where you start; it’s how far you’re willing to go that truly counts!
What if I don’t have a Computer Science degree?
Can you still break into the world of software development without a CS degree? Yes, it is possible, but with a lot of hard work. And we mean a lot! In addition to doing all the coursework, you will have to spend lots of extra hours practicing software development, doing projects, creating your online portfolio and more. And what about the qualities you need to have to become a good developer? You need to be relentless, curious, and never give up when you’re tackling a challenge. You need to be tenacious and approach problems like a dog with a bone and never let go. You need to learn from failures and be ready to work hours on end relentlessly to fix just one bug in your program. Here’s the real secret sauce to being a top-notch software developer: rock solid persistence.
So, whether you have a CS degree or not, here are the qualities you need to possess to become a programmer and get your first job.
- You should be someone who is good at problem solving and troubleshooting
- You need to constantly hone your diagnosing skills so you identify problem causes quickly
- You should be able to ask the right questions and find the right answers on your own by researching online to solve problems
- You should be that person who can stick with the same problem for days until it’s fixed.
- You should be able to analyze what went wrong, research the problem and find the solution.
- You should be someone who is willing to commit to nonstop learning as technology changes
- You should be able to handle failure on a daily basis. You will need this resilience when you have to apply for 400-500 jobs to get enough interviews to get that one job!
Is there a way to know if I can become a developer?
Are there any other options to get into a Tech career?
Don’t want to become a programmer? Not an issue. There are other pathways to a tech career! Cyber security is another high-growth area with good wages that you could consider. You could start your career as an Information Systems Technician and gain work experience, additional training and certifications to become a Cyber Security Technician over a 1-2 year period. This career pathway follows the mantra of “Start Earning, Keep Learning” to move you up to a higher-paying job. While there is a pathway from an Information Systems Technician to a Cyber Security Technician over a 1-2 year period, unfortunately, such a pathway is not readily available for the Software Developer occupation. This is because employers expect a software developer to hit the ground running from day one already equipped with in-depth knowledge.
Information Systems Technician - your first step into a Tech career
Whether you are looking for your first job or changing careers, the Information Systems Technician is a great starting point to launch your tech career. Our Information Systems Technician course equips you with the knowledge and skills to start working as a Technical Support professional. You will be managing hardware and software installation, security administration and troubleshooting in a mixed environment utilizing Windows, Mac and mobile devices in an enterprise setting that uses cloud computing services.
Transitioning to Cyber Security Technician
In our “Start earning, keep learning” model, you have the opportunity to start in a Technology Support/Helpdesk Support role and advance your technical skills and pay scale to become a Cyber Security Technician. Your ongoing work experience as a Technical support professional becomes invaluable as a launching pad to be able to learn the cyber security subject matter. Typically, after 3-6 months of working in the Technical support role, students are ready to enroll in our Cyber Security Technician course. The time duration for taking the course and passing the certification exams is usually 6-9 months, thereby completing your transition.
Our highly curated Cyber Security Support Technician program consists of CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Server+, CompTIA Security+ and CompTIA PenTest+. CompTIA Network+ teaches you to troubleshoot, configure and manage networks. You will also learn about Network Implementations, Operations and Security. With this knowledge, you can move up to a Network Technician role.. CompTIA Server+ teaches how to Install, Deploy, Manage and Troubleshoot Servers. You also learn Server Administration, Security And Disaster Recovery, thereby preparing you to take on System Administration responsibilities. CompTIA Security+ teaches you the skills necessary to perform core security functions. You also learn Security Concepts, Threats, Vulnerabilities and mitigations, Security Architecture, Security Operations and Security Program Management and oversight. This knowledge helps you to take on Security Administration tasks. CompTIA PenTest+ teaches you threat assessment, penetration testing and vulnerability management. You also learn Planning and Scoping, Information Gathering and Vulnerability Scanning, Attacks and Exploits, Reporting and Communication and Tools and Code Analysis, thereby preparing you to become a security specialist. On a scale of 1 to 10, in terms of effort required and difficulty of the subject matter, here is a quick guide: CompTIA A+ is 2, Server+ is 4, Network+ is 6, Security+ is 8 and Pen Test+ is definitely 10! And lastly, note that it is difficult to get a job starting off as a Cyber security professional based solely on taking this class, without prior experience in Technical Support or System/Network Administration.
Changing Careers for higher income? Dollars-and-cents issues
You want to get out of a dead end job and pursue a career with high income and growth prospects. The IT Industry certainly gives you that opportunity. However, please be aware of what the realistic starting salaries are for new entrants in the industry. Average starting salaries for entry-level software developers are only $50-60K and about $40-$45K for Technical Support professionals. A salary of $100K is possible for developers after 2-3 years of experience. Technical Support professionals who take the path of becoming System/Network Administrators can expect a salary of around $60-$70K in 2-3 years. If you are on a faster track, you pass the certification exams and become a cyber security professional, then you can expect to earn around $100K in 3-4 years. The important point to note is that while the potential to earn high salaries exists, generally speaking, you will not be starting off at a six-figure salary. Furthermore, if you are already making high wages in your current job, you may be at the same level or lower when you make the switch. So plan your finances appropriately. Lastly, we hope your sole motivations for looking into an IT career are not “high salary” and “work from home”. We hope you paid attention to the skills and attributes employers demand.
I only have a High School diploma, some college? Or, I have a degree but not in CS/MIS. How do I break into the Tech industry?
Mapping educational background to potential IT career options, here are the most common pathways that we have seen:
High School, Some College or AA:
- It can be challenging to master Full Stack Developer syllabus and get hired as an entry-level developer. Furthermore, when you apply for software jobs, employers will look for prior coding experience (as a freelancer or a paid employee). If you lack prior coding experience, the IT Technician to Cyber Security pathway is more achievable.
- Similarly, it will be a challenge to master the Cybersecurity Technician syllabus given the level of difficulty in the more advanced Network+ and Security+ topics. Furthermore, when you apply for jobs as a security professional, employers commonly favour degree holders. We recommend that you consider the Information Systems Technician course, get hired as an IT Technician and work your way towards Cybersecurity Technician with experience.
BS Degree (not in Computer Science):
Your chances of mastering the software development syllabus are higher, but you should still seriously look at the attributes needed to become a software developer above and do a self-assessment. Similarly, your chances of learning the cybersecurity technician syllabus are higher as well, but review the difficulty levels discussed above, as you progress from Comptia A+ to Comptia Security+.
How do I get started?
Now that you have educated yourself and are ready to make an informed decision, let’s get going.
- To enroll in the upcoming Information Systems Technician class, please click here.
- To get started with enrollment in the Full Stack Developer class, please click here.
- To enroll in the upcoming Cybersecurity Technician class, please click here.
Good luck to you on your journey!
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The IT Industry landscape is ever changing and constantly evolving. If you have insights to share with us, please leave us a comment.