6 Entry-Level Technology Jobs That Don’t Always Require a Bachelor’s Degree
Wouldn’t it be nice to actually enjoy going to work? You wouldn’t cringe every time your alarm clock sounds. If only it were as easy as quitting your current job and strolling right into the tech job of your dreams. But you know starting a new career path isn’t always that simple, and you’re likely going to need some additional education and training to make it happen.
Considering how much you have on your plate as it is, it’s understandable if adding an extended stretch of college coursework into the mix is something you’d like to avoid. But is that preference actually feasible?
The short answer is an emphatic “Yes!”
While you’ll almost certainly qualify for more entry-level roles with a bachelor’s degree to your name, there are still entry-level tech jobs out there for those who’ve chosen to pursue an associate’s degree or other non-bachelor’s degree credentials.
The value of formal education for entry-level technology jobs
Whether you agree with the practice or not, most employers don’t have time to assess in-depth the technical competence of all applicants when hiring, so they tend to turn to easier-to-verify signals like participating in a formal education or training program.
Completion of an associate’s degree program or other formal academic credentials can show at a glance that you’re dedicated to the field and have a solid foundation of technical know-how and soft skills to build upon.
But beyond fulfilling a requirement for employers, the structure and discipline of a formal education program can prepare you for success in the field. Hands-on learning with project-based assignments gives you a chance to demonstrate your skills and grow as a tech professional in a low-risk environment. Pair that with instruction from experienced tech professionals, and academic help from student support services, and you have much of what you’ll need to become a well-rounded applicant.
Do entry-level tech jobs exist for those without a bachelor’s degree?
So, what tech-related positions could you potentially land with this educational background? We used job posting analysis software to identify technology occupations that are seeking candidates with an associate’s degree or vocational training plus zero to two years of experience. We then combined this information with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to give you a better understanding of the job duties, career outlooks and earning potential for each position.1
Keep in mind, though, that while employers may list job postings that indicate they’ll consider candidates with an associate’s degree or less, meeting this single requirement won’t necessarily make you a shoo-in to land the jobs listed below. You’re competing with a pool of applicants with varying experience and education levels, so calibrate your expectations—for many of these roles, a bachelor’s degree and additional experience will be ideal.
It should also be noted that the salary information provided below reflects workers of all levels of experience and education and should not be considered an entry-level salary.
1. Computer support specialist
As a computer support specialist, you’ll be on the front lines of IT tech support. Far and away the most common option for this educational background, this role will have you diving deep into finding fixes for users’ technical problems. You’ll need to be more than just technically proficient, though; as a support specialist, you will be interacting both with power users and novices, so strong communication skills are a must. While exact qualification requirements will vary by employer, many will seek out candidates with an associate’s degree or relevant certifications.
- BLS projected job outlook (2021–2031): Six percent growth.2
- 2021 Median annual salary (BLS): $57,910.2
- Common job titles: IT support specialist, help desk technician, desktop support technician, service desk analyst.
2. Software developers, quality assurance analysts and testers
Software developers, quality assurance analysts and testers are the talented tech professionals creating, testing and modifying software applications used for a wide variety of purposes. Software developers are responsible for meeting with stakeholders, mapping out user needs and writing code that meets these needs. Software developers often work in teams, with large projects usually broken down into pieces. The collaborative nature of this work makes the communication and organizational ability of a software developer very important—so don’t assume employers are just looking for a long list of programming language proficiencies on a resume.
While most jobs in this occupation group will likely require a bachelor’s degree, there may be opportunities for junior-level developers with a strong portfolio of project work and proven ability.
- BLS projected job outlook (2021–2031): 25 percent growth.2
- 2021 Median annual salary: $109,020.2
- Common job titles: Junior software developer, software developer, software engineer.
3. Network and computer systems administrator
Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for the setup and maintenance of an organization’s computer network. This includes roles focused on hardware-based networking and cloud-based systems administration. This sometimes under-the-radar role is crucial—in most organizations, if the network goes down, every employee’s productivity grinds to a halt. These roles may require long hours when things go wrong but can also provide plenty of opportunities for pursuing specialized branches of networking knowledge.
Again, this is a role that will typically require a bachelor’s degree, though some employers are willing to consider experienced candidates with postsecondary certifications and / or an associate’s degree.
- BLS projected job outlook (2021–2031): Three percent growth.2
- 2021 Median annual salary: $80,600.2
- Common job titles: Network administrator, systems administrator, network manager, network specialist, junior systems administrator.
4. Information security analyst
With the increasing sophistication of cyberattacks, it’s no wonder that the role of an information security analyst has such a strong growth projection. Employers have a clear understanding of what’s at stake when it comes to information security and are investing in staff to help prevent headline-grabbing security failures. If you choose to pursue this career, you can expect to monitor network security, research new protection methods, inform employees of security best practices and even perform your own penetration testing to identify weak points before someone else does.
Given that this is a relatively new area of IT expertise, employers may be more open to considering candidates with varied educational backgrounds. That said, “entry-level” jobs for these roles will likely be a challenge to find for candidates with limited experience, as these roles typically require an extensive knowledge of networking and systems administration and a bachelor’s degree. It’s not necessarily an impossibility, but those interested in information security may need to first get established in lower barrier or entry roles while building up their expertise and qualifications.
- BLS projected job outlook (2021–2031): 35 percent growth.2
- 2021 Median annual salary: $102,600.2
- Common job titles: Network exploitation analyst, penetration tester, security analyst, IT security analyst.
5. Database administrators and architects
There’s a lot of data in the world—a lot. And we often take for granted being able to access it easily in an instant. As a database administrator, you would be the one to organize and securely store that ocean of 1s and 0s. This role requires an in-depth understanding of database languages like SQL, and you will need to grasp how data is used by various systems in order to properly structure its storage system.
It should be noted that the BLS reports that a bachelor’s degree—and sometimes even a master’s degree—is typically required for these roles. That said, employers may be willing to consider candidates with the right technical skills, particularly for junior-level positions.
- BLS Projected job outlook (2021–2031): Nine percent growth.2
- 2021 Median annual salary: $101,000.2
- Common job titles: Database administration manager, database administrator, database analyst, database coordinator, system administrator.
6. Web developers and digital designers
Websites are an incredibly important part of any company. They’re the virtual storefront for many organizations, so it only makes sense for businesses to invest in their upkeep and design with a strong web development team. The duties of web developers and digital designers may vary depending on the size and needs of the organization, so it is important to understand the distinction between front-end and back-end development before applying.
The good news for aspiring developers without a bachelor’s degree is that these roles offer a chance for candidates to “show, not tell” their capabilities with a strong portfolio of work and just-for-fun web development projects.
- BLS projected job outlook (2021–2031): 23 percent growth2
- 2021 Median annual salary: $78,3002
- Common job titles: Web designer, front-end developer, back-end developer, e-commerce web developer, full-stack developer
Position yourself for a new entry-level tech job
There are no two ways around it—it’s a big decision to go back to school, and committing to a bachelor’s degree just might be too much for you right now. But that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. As you can see, there are several intriguing tech careers that may be open to the right candidate—bachelor’s degree or not.
If you’re ready to take the first step toward a new career in technology, know that there are education options that can help. Check out the Rasmussen University School of Technology page to learn more about our associate’s degree and certificate program offerings.
1Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 38,619 entry-level technology job postings seeking candidates with an associate’s degree, high school diploma or vocational training, September 1, 2021 – August 31, 2022).
2Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [accessed September 2022] www.bls.gov/ooh/. Information represents national, averaged data for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.