Plenty of crossover already exists between technology and business careers. The two industries need each other and rely on professionals from both sides to provide their products and services. If you have business experience—or even a mind that intuitively understands the business world, you could be a valuable hire in a technology career.
Job growth in the tech community is thriving. These careers are full of employers looking for top talent and willing to pay top salaries for them—and sometimes, applicants with business savvy will have a leg up on competition.
“Any technology career would be benefited from a business background,” says Danny Pehar, president of Cyber Insurance Education. “Even the most technical career skills can still apply to business. At the end of the day, it always comes back to business.”
If you have some business know-how, you may well be interested in putting it to use within the technology industry. Pairing business expertise with technology can be a powerful combination. But what are the best technology jobs for someone like you? We asked professionals in different sectors of technology to weigh in.
8 Great technology jobs for business-savvy professionals
1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) specialist
SEO refers to the process of optimizing a company’s website to match with search engine priorities and appear early on in search results. As the algorithms governing what a site like Google prioritizes in its searches are extremely complex, this job involves many different approaches both inside and outside a company’s specific web domain.
“As an SEO specialist, you must often think like a salesperson,” says Gregory Golinski, SEO specialist for YourParkingSpace. “You must present your product or service to potential customers in the most efficient way, whether it is on your website (known as “on-page” SEO) or by reaching out to influencers. That's where having good sales skills can be very interesting.”
Golinski says a business background tends to give people skill in being both persistent and convincing—both important qualities of a good SEO specialist. If you are interested in SEO, a great place to begin is simply by reading up on best practices, trends and tips. As you build your knowledge base, gaining technical skill in different areas such will help you become marketable as an SEO specialist.
2. Quality assurance professional
When it comes to software development, giving the final product a “lookover” before you send it out will never be enough. Quality assurance professionals are on the payroll to thoroughly test the product and ensure it meets the standards of the business and the expectations of the clients, consumers or stakeholders.
These positions, while often technical, also require a great deal of communication with non-technical professionals and are more demanding in terms of necessary business skills, according to Jorge Araújo, human resources VP at Mobidea. “A quality assurance professional needs to define test cases that are representative of the business,” Araújo says.
3. User experience (UX) designer
Powerful and innovative technology can still fail if users hate interacting with it. Think of the tools you use on a regular basis. Computers, phones and web apps all have been designed with you, the user, in mind. UX designers exist to make sure users can use a product and to make that experience as seamless and frustration-free as possible.
“I would love to see business candidates apply for jobs in user experience,” says Mark Rapley, director of operations at KWIC Internet. This job is technical, so if you don’t have any training in UX design, you will want to get some first.
If you can get in the minds of your consumers and foresee the problems and expectations they will have when using a product, you would be a huge asset as a UX designer. “I think business candidates usually understand how to reach out to consumers better than technology candidates,” Rapley says.
4. Data analyst
Data analysts can work in many different ways, but their primary work is to comb through massive amounts of data to gain useful market and consumer information for the company as well as draw meaningful conclusions about how the company can capitalize on these trends or insights.
“Data-related careers are by far the best suited for those with a business background,” says James Mills, senior data analyst at Amherst InsightLabs. “The ability to comb through billions of rows of raw data, envision the questions that business decision-makers need answered, then format and transfer that data to provide desired answers in business—not technical—language is a skill that I have found to be invaluable,”
“A person with a business background role would probably excel in an analyst role,” says Adam Amrine, owner and lead consultant of Adro Solutions. “There can be a breakdown in communication where technical folks don’t understand business requirements, or the business folks don’t understand what the technical person is trying to say,” Amrine says. “If you have the skills to break down the communication barrier, it can be priceless.”
If you have a business background, but no technical training, Mills advises learning SQL (structured query language) and Python for data mining, statistical analysis and basic task automation.
“These two skills will land recent or upcoming business graduates job interviews for analyst, junior data science or quality assurance engineer roles.”
5. Software developer
A career as a developer might look as technical as it gets. Developers can be responsible for the entire development process of a software program. They determine user requirements, design the program and either write the code themselves—or share some of the work among a team of programmers.
“A developer who understands the importance of monetizing their creation can be the key between producing an incredible product with no penetration, and creating a successful, lasting business,” says Rob Mead, head of marketing at Gnatta. Mead says reading up on any aspect of the industry that interests you is a great way to get used to the tech lingo and get a feel for what is out there.
“Developers who are also business people are in surprisingly short supply,” Mead says. Most developers have at least a few years of formal education in the field, but there are also lots of resources out there to start learning now. “But don’t change who you are,” Mead says. “Businesses need people like you. Learn the knowledge needed to work in a tech environment, but what you’re offering is an understanding how to bring your existing skills to bear.”
6. Cyber security analysts
Cyber security experts are in charge of keeping a company’s information and systems secure. They monitor for security breaches, build programs to resist attacks, test their own systems and inform the company of how best to protect their digital assets.
“They must continually adapt to stay a step ahead of cyber attackers,” The Bureau of Labor Statistics writes. “They must stay up to date on the latest methods attackers are using to infiltrate computer systems and on IT security.” Since this field involves cutting edge methods built on a pretty firm knowledge base, training in cyber security is a must. The best cyber security analysts know how to balance security with the needs of a business and find the sweet spot between “anything goes” and needing a biometric scan to use the water cooler. Business sense helps cyber security professionals prioritize and sensibly apply technical best practices.
“Cyber security seems like it is a technical world,” Pehar says. “But at the root of cyber security, we are talking about people and business. It’s not about providing technical security but about understanding people and enabling business, so a business background would certainly be a big benefit.”
7. Product manager
Product managers watch over a given product all the way from its ideation stage to releasing it to market and keeping it updated and relevant. These professionals are responsible for channeling the company’s vision into the product, managing the different stages of development and keeping communication lines open.
“One of the most sought to fill positions in the tech field is product manager,” says Jonathan Reilly, marketing manager at DRYV. “Being able to drive direction of both the marketing and development team is something a lot of companies need when they have multiple products that they are building and selling.”
Given that this position requires a mix of both marketing and technical know-how, it may seem a little confusing as to which “side” a successful product manager should focus on. Building a base of technical expertise definitely won’t hurt, but the key to many product management positions is often just building experience.
“Intern,” Reilly says. “Experience is far more important than a GPA. Don’t get me wrong—do well in school, but I would hire someone with two internships over someone with a higher GPA but no practical work experience.”
If you are interested in working for a company that follows agile development methods, look into the role of scrum master. Great, but what’s a scrum master? There’s some debate, but the best summary for the uninitiated is to think of it as a development-focused variation of a project manager who helps organize and facilitate the completion of a development project.
“As a scrum master, you ensure that the development team follows the necessary processes and procedures and also works to remove roadblocks for the team so they can be as productive as possible.” Amrine explains that scrum masters communicate with stakeholders and write user stories, “along with the necessary acceptance criteria that must be met for the story to be considered complete.”
This might sound like a language from another planet, but learning about Agile is only a matter of research. In some cases, companies might hire candidates without much technical skill in this area, if they like other aspects of the applicant’s background or personality.
“Having someone who fits into the culture is just as important if they believe the technical skills can be taught,” Amrine says.
The business of tech
As technology continues to thrive and develop, business-minded professionals will be more and more valuable in many of the best technology jobs.
“It always comes back to business,” Pehar emphasizes again. “If you truly understand business challenges, you will be able to use that knowledge to help you break into your career of choice.”
But business skills aren’t the only assets that will help you along in the rising digital world. Learn more about what you’ll need to thrive in our article, “4 Elements Crucial to Professional Success in a Digital Economy.”