Careers without College: Gigs in Tech

Lesson 5: Gigs in Tech


Gigs in tech

Technology has become a crucial part of our lives. As the field continues to expand, so does the variety of positions. Even though computer classes are offered in school, many people who get into tech will tell you that a large portion of their skills are self-taught

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t good four-year programs, or that a college degree won’t help you get a better job—but this often isn’t required for entry-level positions. Advancement largely depends on the skills that you develop over time, which can be learned through bootcamps, certification programs, and of course, on-the-job training.

If you’re a beginner who’s unsure about whether this is the right field for you, it’s worth browsing Grow with Google’s Career Certificates. Even though these courses aren’t free, they’re 100% online, and you don’t need experience to enroll. 

Five challenging and rewarding jobs

If you’re interested in both art and technology, be sure to check out the last two jobs!

#1. IT support specialist - This entry-level position involves problem-solving on a daily basis. IT support specialists work in all types of settings, including offices and schools, and sometimes they can even work from home.

They have to make sure an organization’s computer systems are working properly, often doing things like installing hardware/software and performing updates. Many of these roles involve troubleshooting and customer service, so one of the downsides is dealing with frustrated users.

That being said, many professionals use this role as a stepping stone toward higher positions. Udemy offers tons of affordable IT certification courses worth browsing. And don’t forget to highlight “soft skills” (like time management and teamwork) on your resume or during your interview—as these are also important! 

#2. Web developer - Web developers are in charge of building websites and keeping them up-to-date. If you’re a front-end developer, then you help to make the visual or interactive elements of a site look and function properly. If you’re a backend developer, then you’re working with things like algorithms, databases, and servers. These two roles use different types of code. Full-stack developers work on both sides, the front-end and backend, and make the most money.

While web developers are in demand, there are also many people entering this field. Companies tend to be selective and are looking for talented developers with advanced skill sets. If you want to learn more about the basics, check out our free Computer Science tutorial; it includes introductory lessons on things like programming, and how to decide if this area might be a good fit. 

#3. Cybersecurity analyst - If you’re quick to think on your feet, you might consider pursuing a job as a cybersecurity analyst. Usually you need some IT experience before moving into this role. These positions are well-paid and definitely aren’t going away anytime soon! You’d learn about things like firewalls, encryption, and how to protect networks from malware.

Since cyberattacks happen in real-time, one downside of the job is having to work odd hours. You might want to advance your skills through a platform like Try Hack Me or Hack the Box. Learning a programming language often isn’t required, but it could give you a leg up against the competition. Two of the most common certifications are OSCP and CEH. As an analyst, there are higher positions you can work toward, too, like becoming a cybersecurity engineer or director.

Jobs combining art and tech

#4. Graphic designer - Graphic designers create unique visual content, working on things like logos, magazine editorials, and website layouts. You can be a freelance graphic designer, who takes on projects with different clients, or you might work for one company, like an advertising agency.

While many graphic designers hold a college degree, you can also be self-taught. It’s helpful to learn Adobe Creative Cloud, which includes software like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. While building your portfolio is a must, it’s also a good idea to create your own website and have a social media presence in order to showcase your skills. Feel free to check out our free tutorial, Beginning Graphic Design, which covers the basics. 

#5. Video editor - A video editor works on combining sound and visuals to tell a story. These films include corporate projects, television, and documentaries, depending on your niche (or area of expertise).

You might also decide to become a videographer, who uses gear (like lights and a camera) to capture footage. Some videographers/editors build their network within a local community, filming special events like weddings. If you choose to go freelance, keep in mind that your editing equipment will be costly, so it’s an investment.

Video editors who work for production companies often have tight deadlines. If you’re thinking about this profession, it’s helpful to learn how to use software like Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro. Consider making a demo reel of your best work, and featuring it on a personal website so you can show it to potential clients. 

In the last lesson, we'll give you some additional resources as you plan for the road ahead.