The days of technology jobs being looked down on as “nerdy” or “uncool” are WAY behind us. Tech jobs are respected and known for their cool perks, above-average salaries, and fantastic flexibility.
If you’re a tech major or a recent grad with a tech background, you have loads of opportunities to explore. From startups in Silicon Valley, Portland, and New York City to government agencies in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Atlanta, organizations of all kinds hire tech grads.
This guide lays out some popular tech jobs and how to land them.
Should you pursue a career in tech?
Real talk: A job in tech isn’t for everybody. Before you go down this road, make sure you’ve got what it takes. It’s a given that you’ll need tech skills, but you also need these soft skills:
- Curiosity and analytical thinking. Making improvements in technology requires a curious mind willing to ask questions and embrace new technologies. Analytical thinking is also important, as you need to be able to solve problems. An example could be pinpointing outliers in data sets.
- Attention to detail. Tech can be a highly specific field. For example, if you’re writing code and you get one digit wrong, the whole script can get messed up. Attention to detail is a must.
- Decision-making abilities. Tech pros often need to make fast decisions. For instance, say you work in cybersecurity and need to stop a data breach. Quick action can help resolve the issue.
- Teamwork. Many people assume tech jobs are independent. However, you’ll often have to work as part of a team or collaborate with other departments, like customer support.
If you satisfy those basic requirements, we’ve got great news for you: Many tech jobs are available. As it stands, there are more open job positions available than there are people to fill them.
Best degrees to land tech jobs
With on-the-job training and enough years of experience, you can transition into many tech-related jobs. However, it all starts with a solid education.
Some degrees that can help include:
- Information technology. An IT degree is versatile and gives you the skills to become a software developer, computer programmer, web developer, or network architect (designing intranets and networks).
- Computer science. Computer science majors can get roles as software developers, web developers, or systems architects. Information security is another area comp sci majors can enter.
- Web development. Web developers work in web design and development, ensuring websites look good and are functional. They can also work as content managers, UX designers, or search engine optimization (SEO) specialists.
- Systems administration. Systems administration degrees prepare graduates to work in systems management for organizations, including maintaining services, updating software, and managing data security.
- Cybersecurity. Job titles for cybersecurity grads include cybersecurity data engineer, forensic computer analyst, computer network architect, and chief information security officer.
- Software development. This degree explains everything you need to know to develop software. However, you can use your skills to specialize in mobile development, machine learning, and web development.
These are the most common paths to tech — but you don’t necessarily have to be a techie to break into the field. For example, you can work as a product manager or project manager without in-depth tech knowledge.
Get inspired by these grads who broke into tech without a tech background!
Industries where you can build a tech career
Some people assume working in tech means working for an IT or software giant like Microsoft or IBM. In reality, you can work for all kinds of industries. Possibilities include:
- Higher education. Colleges and universities have a lot of tech needs. They need web developers to build and manage their websites, for example, and information security analysts to ensure network systems are safe. They can also use help desk technicians to assist students and teachers with IT issues.
- Health care. Health care facilities like hospitals, doctor’s offices, rehab facilities, and nursing homes have websites and networks needing IT support. Cybersecurity is even more critical in health care because patient data is at stake. Databases containing sensitive medical information need to be kept secure, in line with the HIPAA Privacy Rule.
- Finance. Finance is another example of a field where cybersecurity is important. Cybersecurity professionals help keep delicate customer data safe, like bank account details. Financial institutions may hire data analysts, help desk technicians, and information security analysts.
- Government agencies. Government agencies need tech support, including web developers, cybersecurity technicians, data analysts, DevOps engineers, and software developers. For example, an agency might develop proprietary software or its own intranet to facilitate internal communication. You’ll find all kinds of government bodies hiring computer science types, from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
You can even put tech to use in the military. Scroll down to see what industries are hiring tech grads on Handshake.
Learn about the top industries to work in and who's hiring in this guide.
Top 10 entry-level jobs in tech
There are many entry-level jobs for tech graduates to choose from. Here are some of our favorite options.
1. Tech sales engineer
Tech sales engineers are responsible for selling technology and science-related products to businesses. They use their tech knowledge to present products to customers and may work for telecommunications or computer system design companies and merchant wholesalers.
Median salary: $80,859 per year
- A bachelor’s degree in engineering; a business degree with tech knowledge may also suffice
- Customer service
- Interpersonal skills
- Communication skills
- Negotiating and problem-solving skills
2. Web developer
Web developers design and create websites, overseeing everything from the site’s appearance to the technical components like traffic capacity. Web developers can work for nonprofits, government agencies, web design companies, and businesses.
Median salary: $61,797 per year
- Bachelor’s in web development or a related field
- Knowledge of programming applications
3. Cybersecurity technician
Cybersecurity technicians oversee the safety and security of various components of an organization’s technology, including hardware, software, networks, and cloud storage systems. They may work for private companies, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), or government agencies — or as consultants.
Median salary: $94,000 per year
- A bachelor’s in computer science, engineering, information systems, or cybersecurity
- Technical aptitude
4. Data analyst
Data analysts collect and organize data for organizations, identifying trends and analyzing them to draw conclusions. Their work helps support business decision-making. Data analysts may work in marketing, health care, and investment banking, among other fields.
Median salary: $64,738 per year
- Bachelor’s in math or computer science or a similar field with an emphasis on statistics and analytics
- Knowledge of programming languages
- Data visualization skills
- Knowledge of data warehousing and SQL databases
- Strong communication
- Analytical thinking abilities
5. DevOps engineer
DevOps engineers use their detailed understanding of the software development life cycle to simplify the software development process. They help deploy code and manage applications, serving as a link between the IT and development teams.
Median salary: $101,229 per year
- A bachelor’s in computer engineering, computer science, or related field
- Coding and scripting
- Software testing
- Security knowledge
- Leadership and organization
6. Quality assurance engineer
Quality assurance (QA) engineers or analysts ensure software functions appropriately and securely. These pros test software quality and predict potential problems. They may work for governments or private companies.
Median salary: $74,175 per year
- A bachelor’s in software development or similar
- Knowledge of software QA methods and tools
- Experience writing test plans and cases
- White box and black box testing experience
7. Software developer
Software developers and engineers create software. They design and test new software applications and help maintain existing applications. They may work for electronics manufacturers, tech companies, or computer design firms.
Median salary: $75,747 per year
- A bachelor’s in software development or similar
- Attention to detail
- Programming languages
- Data structures and algorithms
- Programming languages
8. Help desk technician
Help desk technicians help others with systems, hardware, and software issues. They may communicate via email, chat, or phone to provide support. Topics may range from systems configuration and setup to maintenance.
Median salary: $37,440 per year
- An associate degree in computer science or similar
- Communication and interpersonal skills
9. Information technology analyst
Internet technology (IT) analysts and consultants implement and maintain computer systems for companies and troubleshoot issues. They may work for computer systems companies, tech consultancies, or financial services companies.
Median salary: $63,493 per year
- A bachelor’s degree in information technology, computer science, business information systems, or similar
- Proficiency in a coding language (like C++, SQL, .NET)
- Ability to design, report, and document IT solutions
- Knowledge of industry best practices
10. Systems administrator
Network and systems administrators ensure an organization’s computer systems and servers function smoothly. They may install services, resolve outage issues, and install hardware and software.
Median salary: $65,053 per year
- A bachelor’s in software development, software engineering, computer science, or IT
- Scrum training
- Agile training
- Leadership and teamwork
Who's hiring in tech on Handshake?
Let Handshake help land your dream career in tech
A degree in tech can open a world of opportunities, from web development to cybersecurity consulting. Once you have a basic tech degree in a field like engineering or computer science, you can gain experience and certifications in your specialty of choice to get your dream job.
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