Individuals without degrees can pursue many entry-level and freelance opportunities in the tech sector, making this career accessible to a wider range of professionals. Tech careers can offer high pay and stability, making them particularly attractive to job-seekers.
Whether you are looking to pursue a tech career or advance professionally, this page provides the resources to learn more about different tech career opportunities, the skills necessary to succeed, and how to get started.
Working in Tech Without a Degree
The tech industry offers several benefits, including opportunities for high salaries, flexible hours, and remote work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for computer and information technology roles was $97,430 as of May 2021 — significantly higher than the earnings reported for all other occupations. The BLS also projects employment for tech professionals to grow by 13% from 2020-2030.
Roles such as UX designer, technical writer, and digital marketer may not require candidates to possess degrees. The BLS reports that more than 20% of tech professionals work without degrees, confirming that non-degreed techs are common in today's labor market.
How to Get a Tech Job Without a Degree
There are several ways to break into basic tech jobs without a degree. Bootcamps, certifications, and standalone courses are all options for aspiring professionals seeking basic tech careers.
Bootcamps provide the skills and knowledge needed to pursue roles in the tech industry. Certifications may help professionals stand out to hiring managers and recruiters.
Specialized coursework allows learners to explore the skills needed for a particular tech job or project without committing to a full degree. For instance, candidates may elect to complete courses in computer science, project management, or other related fields.
Certain basic tech jobs do not require candidates to possess degrees, positioning new hires and seasoned tech workers to learn and grow on the job. Candidates can also leverage network connections to pursue entry-level opportunities that lead to advancement. With many available pathways, emerging tech workers without degrees can pursue in-demand roles.
Tech Jobs for Professionals Without a Degree
Entry-level roles can provide on-the-job training to build familiarity with best practices in the field. The following list includes eight roles available to individuals without degrees.
Help Desk Technician
Help desk technicians provide technical support to computer users. They are the first point of contact for people experiencing computer or software problems.
Working from home or in traditional office settings, entry-level help desk professionals resolve technical issues by optimizing hardware and software systems. Besides general computer knowledge, help desk technicians possess excellent problem-solving, communication, and customer service skills.
These technicians collaborate with customers, IT team members, and other stakeholders to resolve technical issues. They commonly work in the healthcare, education, government, and business sectors.
Help desk technicians with strong technical skills and customer service abilities may be eligible for advancement opportunities as network and computer systems administrators, information security analysts, and software developers.
Education Required: A help desk technician typically must possess at least a high school diploma, although some employers may prefer coursework in computer science or a related field. IT certifications can also increase earning potential. Certifications like the CompTIA IT fundamentals credential can provide a comprehensive foundation for entry-level candidates.
Experience Required: Many help desk technician roles may not require prior experience. However, hiring managers may prefer candidates with customer service experience.
Median Salary: $57,910
Job Outlook, 2020-2030: +9%
Technical Support Specialist
Technical support specialists collaborate with customers, IT staff, and management to resolve computer systems, software, and hardware issues. They typically find employment in healthcare, manufacturing, and education.
These professionals commonly work in customer service and technical support, allowing them to pursue advancement opportunities in management and consulting. Non-degree education, such as certification programs and bootcamps, can prepare candidates for this role.
Technical support specialists often collaborate with diverse coworkers, work remotely, and land positions with flexible schedules.
Education Required: A technical support specialist typically must hold a high school diploma. Some employers prefer candidates with associate or bachelor's degrees. The CompTIA A+ Core Series is recognized as an industry standard for this position.
Experience Required: Employers may not require technical support experience but generally prefer workers with problem-solving and customer service skills. Experience with Android and iOS platforms can give applicants an edge in the hiring process.
Average Salary: $53,530 (September 2022)
Job Outlook, 2020-2030: +9%
Systems administrators coordinate the upkeep, configuration, and reliable operation of computer systems, especially multi-user computers, such as servers. They perform regular maintenance by installing system updates and monitoring network activity. These professionals also respond to user requests to troubleshoot issues.
Strong problem-solving skills and the ability to work independently are essential for this role. System administrators collaborate with other IT staff, such as network engineers and database administrators. They may also travel to on-site locations.
System administrators have many advancement opportunities, including network and information systems management roles. Many industries hire system administrators, including government, healthcare, finance, and education. Key benefits include competitive salaries, job security, and flexible work hours.
Education Required: Hiring managers often prefer candidates with at least bachelor's degrees in computer science, information technology, or a related field, although applicants with extensive experience may not need degrees. Possessing specialty designations like Red Hat certified system administrator can set candidates apart from the competition.
Experience Required: Depending on the job specifications, system administrators may not require prior experience. Prior work in customer service, computer science, or a related field can help candidates land these positions.
Median Salary: $80,600
Job Outlook, 2020-2030: +5%
Cybersecurity specialists ensure the security of organizations' networks and systems. They collaborate with IT staff to plan and implement security measures that protect sensitive information and communications.
These professionals also monitor networks for security breaches and provide incident response efforts. Cybersecurity specialists typically work in an office environment or remotely as contractors or employees.
Cybersecurity specialists can advance into management or roles as department leads. Industries that hire cybersecurity specialists include healthcare, finance, government, and education.
Education Required: While employees may prefer cybersecurity specialists with degrees, some hiring managers may seek candidates with cybersecurity certifications or experience in entry-level roles.
Experience Required: Hiring managers may require at least one year of experience in IT security operations. Required technical skills include network security and data security.
Average Salary: $69,560 (September 2022)
Job Outlook, 2020-2030: +33%
Mobile App Developer
Mobile app developers develop and maintain applications for mobile devices. They work with teams of designers and developers to create and improve applications. These developers also collaborate with other departments to ensure that applications meet users' needs.
This position requires strong technical skills and a good understanding of mobile platforms. These professionals should also be comfortable working independently and troubleshooting problems.
Typical employment sectors include the gaming, retail, and healthcare industries. Mobile app developers have many advancement opportunities, including becoming lead developers or managers.
Education Required: Employers may hire candidates with experience and relevant coursework or certifications instead of formal degrees. For instance, mobile app development bootcamps cover programming languages, full-stack development, and other fundamental skills.
Experience Required: Prior experiences that may benefit a mobile app developer include working with programming languages, mobile development platforms, and mobile app tools and frameworks.
Average Salary: $76,390 (September 2022)
Job Outlook, 2020-2030: +19%
Web developers create websites, coordinating the site's look and feel. They partner with web and graphic designers to deliver websites for individuals and organizations. Effective web developers have good problem-solving skills and think creatively to devise solutions to problems.
Web development companies typically employ these professionals. Alternatively, a web developer may work in-house for an organization to create and maintain the company's website. Some web developers are freelancers.
With many advancement opportunities, web developers can move into tech leadership roles or launch web development companies.
Industries that hire web developers include advertising, marketing, and public relations; computer systems design and related services; and management of companies and enterprises.
Education Required: Employers may prefer candidates with relevant work experience and portfolios of completed projects. Bootcamps, certifications, or courses can also prepare candidates for these roles.
Experience Required: Experience with web development technologies and frameworks may offer applicants an advantage. Candidates can include app samples created in collaboration with other developers and key stakeholders in their portfolios for an added competitive boost.
Median Salary: $77,200
Job Outlook, 2020-2030: +13%
Software developers design, develop, and test software applications. Working with other developers and departments, they create and maintain high-quality software products while ensuring the software meets user needs. These professionals also analyze user needs and software requirements to plan for time and cost constraints.
Additional duties include documenting all aspects of software development, researching new software development tools, and remaining current on software development trends.
A software developer typically advances by taking on more responsibility, such as leading a team of developers or working on more complex projects. They may also advance by moving into management or executive positions.
Education Required: Hiring managers often seek candidates with bachelor's degrees in computer science or other related fields, although motivated learners can break into the industry through coding bootcamps, self-study, networking, and earning credentials. Certifications for the software developer role include the certified software development professional and certified software development associate credentials.
Experience Required: Candidates for software developer roles do not need prior experience. However, it may be beneficial to have a background in computer programming.
Median Salary: $110,140
Job Outlook, 2020-2030: +22%
A software tester (or quality assurance engineer) evaluates software to ensure it meets requirements and remains free of bugs. They work closely with software developers and other stakeholders to create test plans, execute tests, and report any functionality issues.
Testers may also write and maintain test automation scripts. Most software testers work in the information technology industry, with opportunities available in other sectors.
With experience, software testers can advance to lead testing positions or other tech leadership roles.
Education Required: There are typically no higher education requirements for this role. Certifications appropriate for this role include certified software tester and certified tester foundation level credentials.
Experience Required: Prior experience in quality assurance or software testing gives candidates a significant advantage. Other relevant experience may include working with software development tools, such as bug tracking systems or test management tools.
Average Salary: $56,470 (September 2022)
Job Outlook, 2020-2030: +22%
Common Questions About Tech Jobs
Is it possible to get a tech job without a degree?
Yes. Many companies hire candidates with little to no experience if they can demonstrate aptitude and a willingness to learn. To learn the skills needed for a tech job, consider enrolling in coding bootcamps, courses, or certification programs.
What is the easiest tech job to get?
The technical support specialist role is a common position to consider among the many basic tech jobs available. These specialists provide support to customers by answering questions and resolving problems. They typically need only a high school diploma (or its equivalent) and some on-the-job training.
How do I break into the tech industry?
Breaking into the tech industry depends on your skill set, experience, and connections. After reviewing job duties and requirements, individuals should complete relevant coursework, network with industry contacts, and intern with target employers. Staying informed of the latest tech trends can also guide your career development efforts.
How do I know if a career in tech is right for me?
Take time to evaluate common job duties and benefits, any experience requirements, and the cost of required education, training, or certifications for a better understanding of your prospective tech career.