Do I Need a 4-Year IT Degree to do Well in Tech?

A lot of persons subscribe to the myth that working in tech requires a four-year degree. Nothing could be further from the truth

There’s no doubt that many IT professionals secured their foothold in the industry by studying IT/tech-related programs in college. However, others got in through online programs and learning the underpinnings of technology on their own — then went on to write code or troubleshoot IT problems.

Technology is a rapidly evolving industry and a four-year degree doesn’t guarantee entry or ongoing success. While a degree in computer science or mathematics may have been a requirement 10 years ago, they have become more of a “good-to-have” rather than a “must-have” requirement. Many of the most well-known technical leaders of our age were self-taught and it’s this ethos that’s stuck around in the tech industry. Today, the key to launching a successful technology career is the willingness to learn and adapt to the constantly changing needs of the IT industry — and not a 4-year IT degree.

If you crave a career in IT and do not want to spend the time, effort and resources to earn a computer science or related degree, you have lots of options available to you.


The importance of IT certifications

You may be surprised by the number of IT professionals with no degrees or with degrees in other fields (business, communications, history, etc.) This is because contrary to popular belief, IT jobs do not need a 4-year degree…the major requirement is proof that you can do the job.

This is where certifications come in.

Certifications have become an incredibly important aspect of the IT ecosystem. Since a huge percentage of the IT sector is driven by business solutions, displaying additional competencies in the use of proprietary technology can make you an important addition to any team that uses those technologies.

Essentially, an IT certification shows potential employers that you have undergone training and obtained the necessary skills and knowledge to perform in a certain field.

HR personnel typically use IT certifications to screen applicants. In certain cases, a certification puts an applicant in a much better position that others with a 4-year IT college degree. As such, certifications are a great way to get your foot in and make a good impression on potential employers. An IT certification roadmap will come in handy when you’re ready to begin your journey in tech.

Take advantage of the skill gap in tech

Tech is booming globally and the number of IT jobs are growing at an exponential rate worldwide…not just in the US. Currently, there are 17% more job openings than available workers in the market…meaning that more than 5 million jobs could go unfilled by 2020.

Due to the massive skills gap in tech, now is the best time for you to start a career in IT. A hot labor market and ever-expanding technical requirements have forced employers to broaden their hiring standards. As long as you have the skills, experience and/or certifications to prove your proficiency in IT, employers don’t really care about your background.


Acquire experience in IT without a job

To improve your chances of being hired, you need hands-on IT experience in the field you want to specialize in or in a related field. While a full-time paying job is a great way to gain experience in the technology field, there are other options available to you.

You can volunteer your skills for local nonprofits that need tech support, do some freelancing work, take on pro bono projects or tackle an existing IT problem. Also, many of today’s top companies are eager to reskill current employees for IT-based roles.

Often times, this includes broadly expanded continuing education budgets to support those just beginning their journey as well as upskilling existing IT professionals. This means that you don’t necessarily need to land the perfect job off the bat. Get your foot in the door on simple or even non-technical projects and see if the company will sponsor your personal development in IT with certifications and other forms of continuing education.


Wrapping Up

A 4-year degree isn’t a mandatory requirement for pursuing a career in IT. In today’s tech industry, employers are looking for professionals who can get the job done…regardless of their background or academic qualification. All you need do is acquire the right certification and some experience and you’re well on your way to kickstarting your career in tech.

Leverage SkillUp Online’s learning platform to fast track your path to an IT career. With our online resources, you can acquire the skills and knowledge to become proficient in your preferred IT field. Whether it’s Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, DevOps, Cloud or others, SkillUp Online can help make your dream of an IT career come true.


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