How to Get Into Tech Without a Degree

Multi-skilled team

Hear how you can get into tech without a degree from one of our team who has done it first-hand

If you’re considering getting into technology, you’re not the only one! According to Tech Nation, 13% of all UK vacancies are related to tech, and nearly three million people are part of the UK tech industry. It’s an exciting field to enter, but a question enters many people’s minds:

Do I need a degree to get a job in tech? The answer is an emphatic: no!

Perhaps more than any other field, IT rewards people who seek out problems and creative solutions to them. We spoke with Craig Booth, Lead Trainer of our Ten10 Academy, to learn about his career journey and how other people can get into tech without a degree, just like he did.

How did you get into tech?

I didn’t enjoy school and was quite happy to get out of that and into work. I came from a working-class family – my dad was an HGV driver – and I knew I had to work for what I wanted. When I left school, I was running my own business, doing an apprenticeship in mechanics with horticultural and agricultural machinery, and had a night job working in sales, cold calling people.

Things changed when I had my daughter at 18 – while I was earning a comfortable amount of money, I realised I had to settle down and find a better work-life balance. I concentrated on sales started working at an insurance company. Once my daughter started to grow up, it got me thinking about the future and where different industries are heading.

Interestingly, the company I was working for had a secondment into the testing team. I was always complaining about the state of the system we had to use there, just an absolute nightmare, but my knowledge of those issues meant I was a natural choice for the secondment. It meant I knew all the issues to flag in testing and what changes needed to be made for the people who used the system. After that secondment, I stayed on as a permanent part of the testing team and that was how I got into tech.

What was your perception of tech before you joined it?

I was very comfortable with the software testing side of tech – I knew I could add a great deal to that side of things because I have quite an analytical mind. There are many other sides to technology, but I wasn’t intimidated by them. I’m naturally inquisitive so wouldn’t think twice about ripping the back off a computer and taking it apart to learn about its components. I have a very do-it-yourself mindset. I’ve started my own company, I’ve pursued my own training, I’ve even just built my own extension on my house!

There are many facets of technology, but you shouldn’t let those options paralyze you. You can overprepare and learn things you’re never going to use. Instead, you should ‘clear the path as you go’. Consider what you want to do (whether that’s a task or an entire career you want to have) and see what the first thing you need to do is. If you can do it, then do it. If you can’t, learn how to do it. Then move on to the next thing one step at a time.

So, how can other people get into tech without a degree?

Secondments

If you’re already working and are considering moving into tech, ask whether your employer offers a secondment into their technical team. It could be an excellent opportunity for you to pick up foundational skills in a familiar environment. You’ll be able to test the systems you’ve already used as part of a role and learn how changes are implemented to make improvements a reality. You may already have a working relationship with the people training you, meaning you’ll feel free to ask detailed questions about how they complete tasks in their current roles.

External training

Tech is one of the most flexible industries for offering training and certification. Many large companies have their own training platforms, such as Google’s Digital Garage, so you can learn the basics at your own pace and wherever you have an internet connection. One of the most important assets for getting into the tech industry is to have an inquisitive mind, so use online courses to learn more about the different opportunities available and what core knowledge interests you. Both paid and free options are available, with many granting certifications which becomes a valuable part of your CV when you apply for your first tech position.

Join an academy

Many people think university is their only opportunity to learn in a specialised environment – under the guidance of an expert and in a group environment where collaboration and discussion can help you grasp new ideas and skills. This is not the case. Academies and bootcamps are fantastic ways for you to learn about technology and the many roles you could pursue. Many of them accept people from all academic backgrounds and look for people with an analytical mind, rather than a STEM degree.