Many jobs in the IT and computer sciences fields do not require a college education. Although having a degree in said fields can serve as a great edge, it is not always necessary to become a successful professional in the industry—but getting there can be quite tricky.
That said, how do you enter the IT field without an IT degree—or any degree at all? Here are several tips that can help you get started:
1. Take online courses
There is an abundance of online courses that you can take to learn the hard skills of the particular branch of IT that you’re eyeing. Best of all, most of them are free and provide certification after you finish the course. These courses will allow you to learn the skills that you need to excel in the field, as well as help establish your credibility as an IT professional.
2. Consider a postgraduate degree
Even if your bachelor’s degree is completely unrelated to IT, it is very possible to pursue a master’s degree in IT to deepen your knowledge and establish your credentials. Consider taking a post-graduate degree online to improve your IT knowledge, enhance your hard skills, and increase your experience in the field.
3. Maximize online sources
Similar to online courses and degrees, there are plenty of other sources that you can use to upgrade your IT knowledge. YouTube videos, ebooks, website tutorials, and academic journals are just some of them. Unlike other fields, you can get into IT through self-learning entirely, often regardless of the area you want to pursue (e.g. web development, software development, etc.)
4. Develop your soft skills
Contrary to popular belief, IT is not all about hard or technical skills. You don’t need to be a computer genius or a math whiz to be successful in the field. However, what you do need is a great set of soft skills that will help you work efficiently, collaborate well with others, find creative solutions to problems, and so on.
Here are the most important soft skills that you need to have when working in IT:
- As with any other job, you need to be a great communicator in order to work well with clients and your team. IT professionals often work with end-users as well as their colleagues to solve technical problems, and if you’re great at communication, it would make your job a lot easier.
- Problem-solving. This is one of the most important skills in any tech-related field. Most of an IT professional’s job is to figure out solutions to IT problems, so if you’re great at problem-solving and not afraid to think outside the box, you will likely be successful in the field.
- Attention-to-detail. Having a keen eye for detail will get you far in the field of IT, especially when you’re trying to find a bug or scour through a bunch of data to stop a security threat.
- Although IT work seems to be rigid and boring, creativity is still an essential skill. It will come in handy when you’re figuring out ways to create new products, enhance existing technology, avoid future issues, and improve the end-user experience.
5. Build a portfolio
If you don’t have an IT-related degree or any degree at all, having a portfolio can significantly improve your job opportunities. Your portfolio should showcase all of your best work, experiences, and testimonials from previous clients and teammates to show employers that you have the skills and experience for the job, even if you don’t have a college education.
Of course, you would have to gain experience in order to build a portfolio. To do that, here are some options that you can try:
Once you have a solid foundation of IT skills, take up freelancing jobs to help you expand your knowledge and experience. Aside from helping you build your portfolio, you will also get to earn money on the side.
Working on personal projects is also a great way to expand your portfolio. For example, if you want to become a professional web developer, create your own websites to demonstrate your skills to future clients.
You can also try to get an internship in the IT department of a company (or an IT company altogether). Your experience there can give your portfolio a significant boost, and there is also a chance of absorption when your internship ends.
Getting into the IT field can be tricky if you don’t have a degree, but it is definitely not impossible. With these strategies, you will be better able to secure a position in the industry, as well as establish your name as a self-made figure in the field.