Opinion: How to get tech jobs without expensive college

Heather Noggle

Jobs in technology are booming – and have been for 30 years. In the late 1990s, the dot-com era, companies flocked to try to hire software developers. If you could program even a little, you were in high demand.

My own career shifted from HR to working with technology to support HR functions. Eventually, I made the full transition into the technology industry and started programming in a Microsoft language. Before that, I acquired most of my technical knowledge through books and through experimentation writing personal programs.

Do I have a degree in engineering? NO.

Many employers – private and public – consider relevant work experience instead of what would have been an occupational requirement for a degree. While college experience is helpful for most industries and jobs, the technology field recognizes that skills and work experience are more important. Of both, skill is more important than on-the-job experience. Skills can be demonstrated through certifications and project work presented online and in an interview. Volunteering in a technical role can add to work experience.

In 2023, every organization is a technology organization. At a minimum, someone needs to create and manage the company website, or manage someone who does. Why? Everything is online and organizations are reaching out to their stakeholders through social media and website content.

Whether you’re considering working in the technology industry or perhaps pursuing a technical career, there are many places, not just colleges and universities, where there are free and inexpensive skill-learning opportunities. Technical jobs often do not require a degree, just proof of knowledge and skills.

Here are some options you can explore to determine if and how you can add technological knowledge and skills to spark your curiosity and interest. Many are free.

The Springfield-Greene County Library District offers the Udemy Business learning platform and many of its courses for free to library cardholders. Access the platform at TheLibrary.org/research. After the setup and sign-up process, you will find some lesson examples such as “Introduction to Computer Networking for Non-Technical People”, “The Complete Introduction to Cybersecurity 2023” and “The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Technology”.

Interested in software and development? Check out FreeCodeCamp.org, CodeAcademy.com and W3Schools.com. Modern languages ​​to explore include JavaScript and Python. If you work on the web and want to design the look and feel of websites and pages, learn HTML and Cascading Style Sheets, also known as CSS. Then add a front-end skill pack like Angular, Vue or React, all based on the JavaScript language.

Cyber ​​security is all the rage. Is this an area for you or someone you know? There is an urgent need for qualified professionals. Valuable online data and information must be protected. Here are some resources:

youtube. In Professor Messer’s courses you can learn everything you need to know for the Security+ entry-level certification exam (but requested by the hiring manager). Learning is all free. TryHackMe.com offers free and paid learning from cybersecurity novice to interactive learner, combining the skills you learn. Because the site offers interactive exercises of real scenarios – from hacking machines to investigating attacks – you can use this virtual machine (computer) to work in a controlled environment that doesn’t endanger your own machine. TCM Security’s courses are $30 each and are of excellent quality. Follow TCM Security on LinkedIn. Sometimes special offers on courses are as little as $1. For more advanced or up-to-date cybersecurity skills, take Black Hills Information Security’s pay-what-you-can courses. Classes and events are available at BlackHillsInfoSec.com.

If you are interested in an IT support/helpdesk career and want to work directly on computers and with the people who use them, Kevtech IT Support is a resource for building these skills via YouTube.

Do you want to improve your online search skills? Search online for “please don’t throw away sausage pizza” and see how this mnemonic will help you memorize it. The cybersecurity field calls these capabilities OSINT, an acronym for Open Source Intelligence, which is anything a skilled searcher can find because the information is publicly available.

If, after exploring, you find interest in learning more, look for in-person or virtual classes at local and regional nonprofits and agencies.

Technical jobs require knowledge of artificial intelligence, software development, cybersecurity, network security, and many others. Learning through platforms dedicated to building skills for specific roles and industries provides up-to-date, ready-to-use training that adapts to changes in the industry. Due to the great need for skilled workers to fill vacancies in these fields, much of the training is easily accessible. Set aside some time with your computer to research these options and see what might fit.

Heather Noggle is the owner of Codistac LLC. She can be reached at [email protected].