In today’s digital landscape, computer science jobs are everywhere. Understandably, tech work isn’t easy—often requiring years of experience to perform. From entry level IT jobs to senior data analyst positions, formal education is an expected requirement. Fortunately, more than a few computer science jobs don’t require a degree at all!
Sure, some tech know-how is necessary to achieve an entry level position. And, indeed, pursuing a career in computer science requires tech education of some sort. This said, your education doesn’t need to be formal. Experience tends to be the best teacher of all, and many hiring managers take this into consideration when seeking new employees.
Fact of the matter is, it’s easy to get the experience required to land a number of tech-related positions. A lot of us are enthusiastic about computer science in general—securing the know-how needed to qualify in the industry in passing.
This isn’t to say all computer science jobs can be approached without a degree, however. As with most industries, some positions require formal education to even approach as a job-seeker. And, as always, there are some positions which require extensive industry experience to secure. The tech world is, well, very technical!
Entry Level IT Jobs, Network Design Jobs and Programming
Fortunately, its complexity is a two-way street when job searches are considered: The ins and outs of different digital jobs are virtually limitless in scope. Because of this, even some of the most prestigious-sounding jobs can be landed without a degree.
Knowing which jobs to approach is important, of course. This is doubly true if you’re entering the computer science industry for the first time. A good entry level position opens many doors of opportunity—as it’ll only grow your list of experience credentials. To jumpstart your career, take a look at the entry level IT jobs below. You can get them without a degree, more often than not, making them excellent targets during your job search.
And some, indeed, just might surprise you.
One: Computer Programmer
What a better place to start than at the core of computer science, itself? You don’t need a degree to enter the digital workforce as a programmer, surprisingly enough. In fact, a lot of programmers begin long, lucrative careers by landing entry-level jobs with life experience alone. In today’s job market, the most important way to boost your employability, and earning potential, is by breaking into a programing education by yourself.
This isn’t to say every programmer begins without a degree, of course. This said, a degree for computer programming doesn’t need to be in computer science, or CS. Because the computer programming career path is incredibly varied, job-wise, a lot of programmers have entered the workforce with degrees in seemingly unrelated areas. Here are some example degrees that can count towards your entry-level credentials:
If you’re going the self-taught route, completing some online coursework—degree-pursued or not—can definitely boost your job-search odds. There’s a somewhat long-standing rumor that self-taught programmers can’t ever aspire to be “real” programmers—but this isn’t the case. In fact, plenty of self-educated programmers go on to become highly effective software engineers.
It’s important to note, however, that a lot of degree-holding computer programmers do have CS degrees. Because of this, seeing such a credential for computer science jobs is pretty common. Don’t worry, though, because there are definitely job openings that don’t require a degree at all! You might have to do some extra searching—but most entry-level jobs require some extra browsing as it is. As they say: Where there’s a will to learn, there’s a way to implement your knowledge.
Two: Web Developer
Front-end web development happens to be a great entry point for self-taught software developers. It’s also a position that can stand on its own, offering lucrative opportunities, down the line, for those who’ve specialized in it. Like computer programming, you don’t necessarily need a degree to enter this tech sphere. In fact, the skills required to fulfill many entry-level web development positions are pretty easy to learn. Without needing to invest in formal coursework materials and teaching, that is.
In general, most hiring managers look for a solid knowledge base founded on the following:
It’s certainly a short list, but these three skills, combined, make for a web developer with plenty of potential. Some businesses look for some extra know-how in front-end frameworks, however. As such, having extra knowledge in frameworks like React and Angular will definitely aid your job hunt. The more you know, the better your chances.
Web development can be a little tougher than computer programming, which is important to note. This is mostly because web development requires a firm approach to tech security. It also requires a knack for understanding the latest web-based trends, innovations and improvements. Even though this creates an extra entry-level barrier, it’s also beneficial to candidates who’re particularly passionate about web development.
If you fall into this group, there’s a good chance you’ve met these qualifications already. After all, a deep interest in anything tech-related tends to inspire a constant search for the latest industry news. In many cases, this alone can teach a candidate a lot. And it’s a pretty fun alternative to formal education.
When it comes to the best ‘crossover skills,’ industry experts suggest going with data analysis. Knowing how to examine, chart, analyze and implement network-extracted data can make you a vital asset to a company—and even its external stakeholders.
Three: Graphics Designer
Make no mistake: Graphics design isn’t easy. It also requires some monetary investment, up front, even for those who’re self-taught. To get the credentials, one needs to get the proper tools of creation. Fortunately, graphics design is reportedly much easier to break intofor those who’ve landed part-time jobs, internships and even tech boot camp spots, in the past.
Much like the above-mentioned career paths, taking some extra courses can never hurt. Even part-time courses, either on a campus or online, is well-worth the investment. More often than not, these courses are much more laid back than degree-directed coursework approached through universities. Here’s the best part: You can learn the required skills in as little as nine months, if you’re taking the part-time self-education route. For those taking the full-time approach, either through classes or relative jobs, three months is totally within the realm of expectation.
So, what about the skills themselves? To make it as a graphics designer, you’ll need to understand not only its practical applications—but also its theoretical applications. Any knowledge of the following, too, will increase your odds of impressing a hiring manager:
- Color theory
- Two-dimensional design
Similar to web development, the list of credentials is pretty short. Still, each is expansive enough to get a little lost—which is why many graphics designers take up traditional education from the get-go. In any event, entry-level graphics design positions have a lot of leeway, when it comes to formal credentials.
Why so? Well, mostly it’s because graphics design is an art form. As such, you can earn some pretty solid credentials by creating successful projects. Grid systems, logotypes and even digital brand design are great knowledge spheres to pursue. Where the trade’s tech tools are considered, however, you’ll likely need to purchase an industry standard toolkit to strategize, create and perfect your creations.
Even so, teaching yourself graphics design skills is totally doable with cheaper tool kits. You might need to expand your knowledge base to get the most out of them, but an inspired graphics designer has little trouble making the ends meet. Graphics design skills can be learned in some pretty unlikely ways, too: Where digital branding is considered, things like social networks, business video series and even mobile app design can prove useful.
Four: IT Analyst
When we think of commercial IT department and entry level IT jobs, we typically consider university degrees to be unconditional requirements. This isn’t the case, however, as about 26 percent of IT professionals began theircareers without having college degrees. IT analysis also has a lot of ‘crossover’ skills—so you’ll still land some credentials if you’ve learned other computer science approaches, along the way.
Similar to graphics design, and surprisingly so, IT analysts can also enter the workforce via more nebulous skills—like a growth-oriented mindset. This is because IT analysts are often tasked with improving a business’s digital architecture on a day-to-day basis. So, even if you’re not a calculus whiz, you can still harness the power of technology alone as tools of success.
You’d be surprised how many IT professionals started off as simple tech solution workers. Creativity is absolutely essential to web development and software development—making innovation, itself, a leading quality for entry level IT jobs. You’ll also need to foster a great attention to detail, as IT analysts must frequently fix errors in lines of code. They also need to identify cybersecurity threats before they become dangerous—which is pretty tough to do within a custom-tailored commercial environment.
Some of the tech world’s greatest CEOs have a lot to say about computer science jobs and other industries. Frank J. Segarra, a drone services company CEO, is just one example: He entered the IT field without a degree, transitioning from U.S. Navy tasks into more tech-based roles. IT training, by and large, is frequently self-trained. Similar to the other entry-level digital jobs mentioned, IT analysis, as per another industry pro, Tracy Pound, is about “embracing change and solving business problems” with tech and non-tech-based solutions alike.
Five: Cybersecurity Analyst
Speaking of cybersecurity, did you know you can start this career sphere without formal education? It might be uncomfortable to think about, at first, as cybersecurity workers are responsible for our digital safety. This isn’t to imply, however, that the tech world’s digital defenders are anything less than effective providers. Fact of the matter is, any form of prior IT experience is as good of a credential as any. Looking back to the IT analysis career path, military or law enforcement experience can be enough, too: Even if your previous work wasn’t primarily tech-based.
By its nature, the cybersecurity field doesn’t have a regulating structure. Unlike fields such as the medical field, a formal degree isn’t considered to be an ironclad requirement by most. A lot of employers, reportedly, are more than willing to hire candidates with little to no formal education. This happens so often, in fact, that hiring managers frequently pursue self-taught candidates who’ve had less training than their own internal teams.
The cybersecurity job sphere is also growing—and rapidly so. Many individuals between ages 25 and 65 need computer access during their working hours. Most companies need to train their employees, annually, in basic cybersecurity practices as a result. In a career area packed with great gaps of commercial digital defense, a specialized cybersecurity worker is incredibly valuable.