The ever-changing digital landscape has made technology skills relevant and applicable in a variety of industries. Even individuals who are years into a career path—one that historically did not rely on technology—are now finding their positions require at least some digital knowledge, whether in network security, hardware installation, web development, programming or something else.
So, what can you do to if you want to work in the tech field but don’t consider yourself to be the typical tech-savvy whiz generally associated with these roles? Don’t get discouraged—despite what you might think, plenty of these jobs are attainable with a little work.
5 Industry realities that prove tech-savviness is only part of the equation
Would a lifetime of tinkering with computer hardware and coding help you get started in the tech field easier? Absolutely. But it isn’t a deal breaker if that’s not the case for you. The reality is that determined practice and a commitment to education can help you cover a lot of ground and get you up to speed.
To prove it, we sought advice from industry professionals about what it takes to become a successful technology professional. Read on to see the realities behind why you shouldn’t delete technology careers off your list just yet.
1. There’s more to tech jobs than just coding, math and science.
When we think of technology jobs, we often think of digital virtuosos who stare at glowing screens, churning out code. While these individuals play an important role in technology, they aren’t the only people driving innovation in this complex frontier.
“As more data is gathered, it needs to be protected and understood,” says Charles Eaton, CEO of Creating IT Futures, a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the growing IT skills gap by attracting talent to in-demand positions. “There will be plenty of jobs for technicians, network specialists, cyber-security professionals and data analysts, as well as salespeople, marketing professionals and project managers.”
2. Many people land a job in tech with basic training and certification.
If you’re unfamiliar with the industry, you might assume the only way in is by earning a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. Undoubtedly, this kind of training and education is valuable, but it is not the only avenue to a tech career. Information technology jobs in particular place a fair amount of value in certifications and may not require a Bachelor’s degree. Additionally, much of a tech workers’ long-term success isn’t tied to individual certifications or credentials.
“Technology moves quickly,” Eaton explains, “Neither a four-year degree nor a certain set of certifications is a guarantee of success.”
The development of intangible skills such as being flexible, adaptable and collaborative can begin in the classroom, but of equal importance is how you choose to apply those in the workplace.
3. A tech career isn’t just working for Facebook or Google
While some of the most talked-about technology innovations originate in Silicon Valley, there are plenty of opportunities elsewhere. Information technology plays an integral role in supporting all types of businesses—not just the giants.
“From small, family-run businesses—such as corner convenience stores, dry cleaners and lawn services—to big banks and insurance companies, there are IT careers in almost every organization around the globe.” These opportunities should not be overlooked or devalued, according to Eaton, as they make up a notable percentage of jobs in the tech field and could form the building blocks of your new career.
4. Specializations and soft skills are not only needed, but also welcomed in the tech industry.
A mechanic doesn’t necessarily know how to manufacture car parts. They know how to diagnose mechanical problems, provide options that meet a customer’s needs and perform the work it takes to get drivers back on the road. The same principle applies for many technology-related jobs—you don’t have to understand how every last bit of technology works in order to do the work.
“Take digital marketing, for instance,” says Zachary Painter, a career advisor and hiring manager at ResumeGenius.com. “Digital marketing requires a very specific set of skills, including but not limited to search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, branding, lead generation and website copywriting.”
Many of the skills Painter cites above aren’t anything new—they’ve just been tweaked a bit as technology advances.
“The actual tech knowledge digital marketing entails can be taught on site and does not require candidates to be ‘tech savvy’ before they are hired,” says Painter.
5. There is no “perfect” way to get started in tech—and varied backgrounds can help
The tech field is full of people who did not follow the traditional route to career success. David Rico, a developer at Warschawski, is one of those people. Formerly a welder, Rico started programming on the side as a hobby, but it soon turned into a passion—one that he quickly pursued as a part-time job.
The career growth didn’t happen overnight. But he worked at it every day, building his portfolio and surrounding himself with people who shared his interests. His personal drive eventually led to his attendance at a programmer’s retreat in New York City and laid the foundation for his future.
“I was engulfed in a community of very intelligent and profound programmers. From there I gained the confidence to pursue web development as a full-time job.” After just a few months of freelancing, he found his current job.
Rico could not have predicted he would end up in this field. “If you asked me 10 years ago what I would be doing with my career, I would have never said that I would end up in the technology field, let alone become a developer. I was never good at math and definitely not tech-savvy, so nothing about my path pointed me here. I initially went to school to pursue liberal arts, bouncing around states to figure out where I would end up.”
Rico has faced the assumption that becoming a developer requires a heavy technological background, but he reminds people that some of the best developers he’s met came from a nontraditional path. These individuals are creative thinkers who are passionate about what they do, and that passion made them natural leaders in the field.
Time to get savvy
If your curiosity and career prospects are pointing you toward a technology skill set, then don’t let your preconceived notions about the tech field dissuade you. The tech industry relies on people of varying backgrounds. Many who are successful in the industry weren’t all tech-savvy when they entered the field.
Your next position could be in technology. Learn more about the career paths you could follow by reading our article, “8 Careers in Technology that Keep the World Moving Forward.”