The more money you make, the easier it is to save money and make more money through investing or starting your own business. You can achieve financial independence quicker and decide if you want to retire early or keep working and have a nicer lifestyle. So, how do you get that high salary? One way to get a high salary is to get hired by a tech company. The IT industry is known for high salaries. According to Indeed, the average base salary for a software engineer is almost $110,000. That doesn’t even include bonuses or RSUs. CNBC highlights 11 jobs that pay $150,000 or more at Amazon including product management, technical program management and solution architect.
A common misconception is that you need to know how to code to get a job at a tech company. This is not true. There are plenty of jobs in operations, sales, marketing, finance, HR and additional departments that don’t require you to be an engineer. The hardest part about getting a job at a technology company is getting your foot in the door. So, how do you get a job in tech? I reached out to a few bloggers to share their stories on how they got their jobs in tech.
Apply To a Leadership Development Program
This is my story of how I got a job in tech. I started at a IT company by applying to a leadership development program during my senior year in undergrad through career services. I was a senior in college during the Great Recession, majoring in business management. Wondering, what jobs exactly does a business management major apply to? I spoke to career services and they recommended I apply to leadership development programs. These programs allow you to have multiple different jobs over the course of 2-3 years and is a great program for people that don’t know what they want to do for work. One of the [business operations] leadership development programs they recommended was at a technology company that recruits on campus.
As luck would have it, the recruiter happened to be in my same sorority at another school. We immediately hit it off. I knew nothing about the IT industry. But, before the second round, I happened to read an article about how cloud computing was the next best thing. I brought that up in my interview, the panel was impressed and I got the job.
My advice to getting a job at a tech company: apply for a leadership development program if you are graduating college or a masters program, and read a couple articles about the next “big thing” in tech right before your interview. CIO magazine is a good place to find a few of these articles. When you’re in your interviews, look for ways you relate to each person you interact with. Do you like the same sports or sports teams? Do you have a similar hobby? A lot of acing any interview is to be liked and deemed that you’ll be a good fit. Sometimes it’s as simple as having a similar hobby.
Self-Teach Yourself to Code
Money Mage shares their story on how to get into IT by learning how to code:
I learnt to code in my bedroom as a teenager and got my first job aged 16. It paid my way through University. I studied Computer Science at undergraduate, and specialized in Computer Games postgraduate. I’ve always been into games! I now work for one of the biggest companies on the planet, in an engineering role that’s also customer-facing. I love my 9-5, I know that’s not a popular view, but it’s awesome. I’ve been fortunate in my career, finding a low cost of living area that has high employability. Starting early really helped, as University was a breeze. I’ve also got to work with some amazingly talented people in the Games industry.
Employability in tech is high at the moment. It’s highly white-male skewed, and many companies are positively discriminating to correct the balance. Tech-bro culture is horrid. The correction means it’s a great time to get into tech, you can start self-taught and work your way up. I’d strongly recommend brushing up on the fundamentals, data structures, algorithms, even performance and optimization. It’s so easy to get hung up on the latest frameworks and language trends. The fundamentals are lasting. The big companies select for fundamentals + fit, not frameworks.
Take Digitally Focused PR Classes to Gain Technical Experience
Madison, from Best Company, shares her tips on how to get into IT in a digital marketing role:
Although I work in tech, I’ve always considered myself as a creative. One that loves to create something out of nothing. My journey as a creative started by filming weddings, but in recent years i’ve pivoted into my current job—a digital marketer in the tech space. How did I make this huge leap? Well, the most crucial decision was my college major, Public Relations. My program did not teach “traditional PR” but instead had digitally focused PR classes. We learned about SEO, social media listening, content creation, blog writing and how to structure Google AD campaigns. My college program showed me that the tech space was more than just software engineers. Creatives had a niche to showcase their technical and creative skills through digital marketing. My major’s unique digital initiatives allowed me gain technical experience in college and land jobs in the tech industry that fit my skills and interests.
Join The Military in a Cyber Security Role
Eric, from FireTheMillennial, shares his story of how he got into tech through a Cyber Security Analyst role within the military:
My name is Eric, and I started working in tech when I turned 18. I enlisted in the military and was given the job of Cyber Security Analyst, which sounded exciting on paper but was just policy enforcement. We were required to obtain the CompTIA Security+ certification to graduate from our technical training. That certification is a requirement in the cybersecurity field. It shows a base level of understanding of information security and networking concepts. I left the military after 5 years and worked for a couple of the top 10 defense contractors as an information systems security officer and have been working for them ever since. A few tips to get a foot in the door:
- Figure out what exactly your end goal is. Do you want to go the security route? Networking? Penetration tester? – Get a baseline certification. Whether that be Security+, Network+, you’re going to have to show recruiters/the company that you have at least a base knowledge of the field
- Do you want to work for a defense contractor? You’re going to need a security clearance. Nine times out of ten, you won’t get considered without one. The easiest way to get one is to join the military, but that’s a commitment you have to think about.
- If you want to work for the tech giants (Amazon, Microsoft, etc), start working on their cloud certifications. Whether that be Azure (Microsoft) or AWS (Amazon), cloud technologies are huge right now and they’re not going anywhere. They both provide online study resources for their certifications “
Leverage C++ Skills To Land A Job As a Junior Developer At A Software Company
Adam, from Awesome Personal Finance, shares his journey on how he got into IT through a Ph.D. in math:
My journey into tech is unconventional. It starts with a Ph.D. in math. While this is a great accomplishment it initially limited my employment options because I had no significant experience. From California, I tried to initially work in finance in New York. The timing couldn’t have been worse as Wall Street banks were melting down. I was standing in Times Square when Lehman Brothers announced their closure.
Having decent skills in C++ from some mathematical modeling classes I looked for a job as a junior developer at some software companies. Jobs were still very hard to find back then and competition was stiff. I had to finally settle by taking a professor job. The pay was low and it was not what I wanted to be doing, but I had my own office and was back to looking for tech for jobs. After one year of looking I decided I needed help. Hours of sifting through the internet led me to find a senior Amazon Engineer who offered tech interview coaching. I paid him $199 and he got me pointed in the right direction over the phone.
Being sick of online resume submissions I decided to try some job fairs in major cities. It was literally the last person I gave my resume to that pulled out a cell phone and offered me an interview that day. I nailed the white board interview and have been working as a software developer ever since.
Get A Technical Job At a Non Tech Company and Leverage That Skill Set To Move Into a Tech Company
Moving and Baking shares their story on how they moved into IT from working in tech at a financial services company:
I grew up with computers before it was cool. I probably wrote my first program in Basic around age 7, and built web pages for extra credit in high school. Then, I went on to major in computer science and math in college. Coming into the job market after the dot com bubble burst, I took the only offer I got with an online financial services company. I spent 13 years in financial services technology in NY and CA before moving to Texas in 2016. At that point I was ready for a change, and connected with recruiters at several technology companies here. The skills I had built in tech and product management translated well to a tech company. Though different in business purpose, the problems are surprisingly similar and I’m enjoying this role tremendously.
Work with a Recruiting Agency Who Can Help Find Tech Jobs That Match Your Background
Zero, at Walking to FIRE, shares her story of how she got into tech with a background in Special Education and using recruiting agencies:
I graduated in May, 2014 with an M.Ed. in Special Education. As a senior in college, I was diagnosed with a rare vascular condition in my brain that required me to have brain surgery. Because of my background in special education as well as newfound personal interest in working to improve the living conditions of people with disabilities as a newly disabled person myself, I moved to NYC with a few thousand in the bank, a lot of enthusiasm, and no experiences to actually get me in the door.
I was job hunting for half a year, sending hundreds of resumes to every disability advocacy nonprofit and service organizations in the city. Unfortunately, my half-year sublet to an apartment was ending, and I still didn’t have a full-time job, paying my bills by juggling multiple gigs (babysitting, tutoring, working as therapist for boy with down syndrome). It was either go back to my hometown to try to find a job there, or find a full-time job ASAP to justify a new lease.
In the last month of my job hunt, I found out that recruiting agencies existed, and what’s better – they’re free! I submitted my resume to multiple recruiting agencies, and unlike the hundreds of resumes that probably went unread, I got calls immediately. Within days, I was interviewing with a consulting firm who needed to fill a client’s IT Helpdesk Engineer role. The caveat was that the client wanted a Japanese/English bilingual, and those are very hard to come by. “We know you have no technical backgrounds,” the recruiter said. “And though we can’t teach linguistic skills, we can teach technical skills. Would you be interested in trying a help desk role?” And that was how I began my journey that got me from a Special Education teacher to Helpdesk Engineer to SysAdmin to working freelance as a Technical Writer!
Major in Marketing? Learn to Code to Differentiate Yourself
Forrest is a Digital Marketing Manager at a restaurant technology company and blogs at Don’t Work Another Day shares his story about how he majored in marketing and learned how to code:
For me, getting a job in tech was not planned. I have always loved technology and having the latest gadgets, but it was not to focus of my education. Instead, I received my degree in marketing and taught myself web development throughout college. This enabled me to build websites for others, bolstering my career into digital marketing. Tech is highly dependent on your skills rather than education. If you have the skillset, you’re likely to receive a job offer even without a college diploma. Because the vast majority of marketers are unable to write code, this positioned me in a good place to work as a digital marketer, combining my skills in marketing and web development.
If you’re interested in working in tech, I encourage you to learn as many coding languages as you can to set yourself apart. There are many free resources available to help you. Most of my knowledge came from YouTube videos and a few books, all of which are free.
Become a Consultant That Partners with Tech Companies
Jordan, at One Cricketeer, shares his story on how he works with tech companies in his current role:
I had access to a computer as long as I remember. I played PC games that honed my problem solving abilities at a young age and excelled in STEM classes throughout school. Next, I got accepted to the highest ranked undergraduate engineering school in the US. I graduated with double major in Software Engineering and Computer Science, with a double minor in Math and Computational Science (using computers to do modeling and solve complex math problems). After graduation, I applied to a bunch of companies and accepted my current one that a professor had worked for and recommended me to.
I currently work in a boutique consulting firm, which then partners with larger corporations like IBM, Google, Amazon, etc and then I work at their clients for a few months to years at a time. I can rotate whenever a job is finished or talk to my manager about where my interests exist, and we work on a plan such as certifications or job shadowing.
Get An Interview At A Tech Company Through A Referral
Steve at NW Outlier shares his story of how he started working in IT through a referral with a high school diploma and a drive to succeed:
Getting into tech in the late 90’s was different than today. When I decided to finally make that move, I chose to work in a used computer store. I always was on time, worked hard, got noticed… was promoted to manager. Fast forward a couple years when my sister in law was working as a contractor (temp worker testing software) at Microsoft and called me one day at the store and asked “do you want to work at Microsoft?” I did not hesitate to interview. At the time, Microsoft would hire less knowledgeable workers to point out difficulties that users would experience with their software. I started as a temp worker making $18/hr working on Windows 98. I would spend my time writing the best defects, with high levels of accuracy and detail for the developers.
Over time my knowledge was sufficient or significant to be considered an engineer, but still not hired as a full-time person. After 3.5 years I moved on to a dot com that failed within a year, then interviewed at Microsoft and my current employer. My objective was to move towards full time employee, and I was open during my interview with both to let them know this was my goal/objective. I ended up being there through a couple mergers for a total (my temp work and full-time employee work) of just over 17 years. While building that career, I kept the same work ethic, I was in early and stayed late – I loved technology, so it was easy for me. When I started as an employee at my current employer, I was an entry level person, from there over the years I worked myself up to a Principle Solutions Architect.
All this was accomplished with just a high school diploma. I will admit, part of me wishes I spent some time in school to get a 2-4 year degree to compete with some of my peers. Towards the end of my career I was working shoulder to shoulder with PhD level network architects. Working this hard, for this long is for sure going to burn anyone out, so please – be sure to be saving a significant portion of your income. So, when the time comes you can shift down and maintain the same lifestyle. I have started following the personal finance blogs, and the FI/RE crowd – this saved my life! We’ve saved and invested almost enough to not worry about having a W2 or day job income, but I still have a few more years…. Stay Tuned.
How to Get Into IT Summary
There are plenty of ways to get into IT, this only includes examples from 10 different people! Some people pursued the route of learning how to code and others leveraged their skill sets in other areas like marketing and operations to get jobs in those respective divisions. Another got their foot in the door through an employee referral.
Technology companies pay well and can help you achieve your financial goals faster. You are able to earn a higher salary and increase your savings rate. If you work in tech now, how did you get into IT originally?