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17 September 2023 - 8 minutes

Breaking into Tech: Tips for Career Changers and Non-Tech Backgrounds

Looking to move into tech? You’re in the right place.

Ironhack - Changing The Future of Tech Education


You know your future lies with tech and we get it: it’s an incredibly wide field with lots of job opportunities, attractive benefits, and high salaries. But if you’ve already worked in another field for a while or simply don’t have a tech background, taking that first step to switch careers can be quite daunting.  

Breaking into tech doesn’t have to be a scary and intimidating experience. After all, it’s incredibly common to switch careers at some point in your professional life and even more normal to want to move into a field where you’ll see an improvement in both your professional and personal life. 

In this post, we’ll outline the steps you’ll need to follow to break into tech from another industry, suggest some tips and tricks that can make the transition easier, and remind you of the reasons why moving into tech is such a great idea. 

Why Choose Tech?

Before we dive into the details of switching careers, let’s head back to the very beginning: why you want to move into tech. No matter what field you choose, tech professionals can benefit from the following:

  • Higher salaries than other industries, in addition to bonuses other forms of compensation

  • The opportunity to work with the world’s newest technologies and harness them for good

  • Flexible schedules that allow you to work fully remotely or at least some of the time

  • Lots of job opportunities as the field is constantly evolving and growing

There are lots of reasons to get into tech, but these are some of our favorites (and the ones that usually convince people!). 

With the decision to choose tech clearly made, it’s time to move on to the next step: deciding which area of tech is right for you. 

Choosing the Right Area of Tech

If you’re looking for us to tell you which area of tech to choose, you’re in the wrong place. The best area of tech for you will depend heavily on your individual preferences, experience, and goals; we can’t simply tell you which is best! But if you are stuck and can’t make a final decision, try to follow these steps:

  1. Find out what truly interests you: there might be hundreds of openings for software engineers near you, but the idea of sitting in front of a computer and coding is not enticing at all. And that’s totally fine--coding isn’t the only in-demand skill and you’ll be able to find work in a variety of roles. When choosing the area of tech in which you want to specialize, make sure you are truly interested and can see yourself working in it for years and years.

  2. Research career paths: you really like working with artificial intelligence tools, but there’s probably no actual career in that, right? Well, as AI use grows, more and more companies are choosing to employ AI professionals, meaning there are professional paths. Dedicate some time to exploring available roles and outlining what your career would look like to make sure you are truly interested.

  3. Review required skills and what you offer: now that you’ve decided which industry is best for you, it’s time to check out what you’ll need to know and offer to land a job in that area, in addition to seeing which of your current skills could be of use. Be realistic–this is a great time to reflect on your abilities and think about what you can realistically learn. 

  4. Choose your plan of action: with your interests clearly defined, it’s time to make an action plan. How will you learn the necessary skills to move into tech? How will you prepare yourself for a career change? Planning these steps ahead of time can make the adjustment much, much easier and seamless.

Following the aforementioned steps will help you come up with a great plan for success. But if you’re still having trouble choosing which area, consider one of the following four: 

  • Web development: perfect for those ready to master a few programming languages and create the formula for how websites and applications work, web development is growing daily with tons of demand for skilled professionals. 

  • UX/UI design: harness your creative and tech-savvy sides as a UX/UI designer; you’ll be able to create the ideal user web experience through design. 

  • Data analytics: every good decision is backed by data and companies are increasingly relying on data to ensure they’re making the right choices. As a data analyst, you’ll be at the forefront of these decisions, visualizing and explaining the results to the rest of your team. 

  • Cybersecurity: as cybersecurity becomes more developed, so do cyber threats and it’s the responsibility of cyber professionals to protect and defend their company’s data from malicious attackers. 

These are just four areas of tech, but there are tons more: interested in cloud computing? Or DevOps? What about artificial intelligence? Careers in these areas and more are popping up daily and we’re sure you’ll find the perfect match for you. 

Preparing for Your Tech Career Change 

Alright, on to the next step: getting ready to make that career change. First things first, you need to build up the right skills to land that job. It seems self-explanatory, but when facing this step, you may find yourself a little lost. Are you supposed to go back to school? Or learn everything on your own? Do you quit your current role? Let’s cover these doubts and some other burning questions you may have.

Learning what you need to know

If you’re worried about having to head back and get another four year degree, stop right there. Because tech is moving at such a fast pace, the skills you need to know are also changing fast, meaning four year programs are usually outdated by the time you’re ready to enter the workforce. They are certainly an option, however, but make sure you explore everything available to you: 

  • Self-learning: the internet is a wonderful place full of incredible resources to help you learn about new topics. If you feel like learning on your own, it’s definitely an option! Check out free online courses or videos and start practicing. But remember that while this is a great way to try out different areas and see where your interests lie, you might run into trouble at some point and need guidance or help beyond that of what free online resources can provide. 

  • Short courses: one or two week online courses are another popular way to get the basics of your chosen area; you’ll have an instructor and a guided learning process that can help you learn what you truly need to know. However, most areas of tech require more time to learn what you really need to know to land a job. 

  • Bootcamps: bootcamps are great ways to learn what you need to enter the workforce in a short period of time and are usually flexible and customizable around your current schedule. But because they’re so intensive, they do require a sizable commitment and focus; before signing up for one, evaluate your current responsibilities to ensure you can dedicate your full energy to it. 

  • University degrees: the option to go back to school always exists; spending four years on one topic can provide you with incredible theoretical and foundational knowledge. However, the time and financial commitments are significant and can serve as a barrier for many. 

No matter which method you choose, make sure you properly evaluate the time, money, and energy you can dedicate to your new career and make the right decision for you. 

Switching careers

With the decision made to jump into tech, you might feel like giving your two weeks notice immediately, especially if you’re really not happy in your current role/industry. And while that may be quite the temptation, it’s best to move slowly and cautiously to ensure you’re being responsible. 

Depending on which method you chose to learn the necessary skills, your timeline will look a bit different. Regardless, here’s our cheat sheet to making your career transition as smooth as possible: 

  • Create a realistic timeline: with everything decided, it’s time to outline exactly what steps you’ll take to achieve your goal. Be generous with your time allocations, allowing for unforeseen circumstances and being cautious–you don’t want to end up in a situation where you’ve quit your job and used up all your savings and are still learning necessary skills. 

  • Work on your CV/portfolio: as you start mastering tech skills, dedicate some time to polishing your CV/portfolio and interview skills so that you’re ready to apply for jobs and get your foot in the door as soon as you’re ready. Making this an ongoing task helps speed up the entire process and will help you track your progress.

  • Don’t be too eager: a career change is a big deal and rushing through it probably won’t get you where you truly need to be. Work your way through these steps slowly and surely, guaranteeing you’re learning what you need to know. 

  • Make the process as easy as possible: you’re probably tempted to quit your job, join a full-time 9 week bootcamp and start working in tech in a few months and we get it–the tech sector is enticing and welcoming. However, don’t be afraid to choose a part-time program so that you’re able to maintain your current job and responsibilities or even put off the job search for a little after graduation so that you’re confident in your portfolio/interviewing skills. 

The move into tech is quite daunting--we totally get it! But there’s never been a better time to harness all that tech offers and take the first step towards your dream career with a tech bootcamp that’s specifically designed to land you a job as soon as possible. Say goodbye to all the unnecessary classes and courses that have nothing to do with tech! It’s time to focus on exactly what you need to know. 

At Ironhack, our bootcamps are expertly designed to teach you exactly what you need to know to land that first tech job. And we work with some of the world’s leading companies to help you land interviews, assisting you with interview prep and CV creation from the first day of your bootcamp. 

If you’re interested in breaking into tech (even if you have no experience in tech!), there’s no better place than Ironhack. We offer flexible courses offered both in-person and remotely and full-time and part-time so that you’re able to maintain your current responsibilities and take those first steps towards your dream career. 

Ready? Check out our course offerings and get ready for a transformative journey: we’ll see you in class! 

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