Did you know you might not need a degree to get a top tech job?
An additional 1.4 million jobs could open to workers without college degrees over the next five yearsBy Kirstie McDermott
The college route isn't for everyone: it's eye-wateringly expensive, for one thing. In America, the average cost of attendance for a student living on campus at a public four-year university is $25,707 per year or $102,828 over four years, according to Education Data Initiative.
The numbers are even bleaker for out-of-state students, who pay $43,421 annually, or $173,684 over four years of education. Private, non-profit students pay a huge $218,004 over four years.
More figures estimate that those who are unable to work full-time while studying stand to lose a median annual income of $42,068, and once students' graduate, they are paying an average of $2,186 in interest each year – with the average student borrower spending about 20 years paying off their loans.
Within tech, there is an increasing move away from requiring prospective candidates to have a college degree. Research from Harvard Business School and The Burning Glass Institute found that in November 2022, 41% of U.S.-based job postings required at least a Bachelor's degree – a 5% drop from early 2019.
This can be explained by McKinsey research, which found that about half of all work activities could be automated by 2055, or as soon as 2035. Because technology advances so quickly, this is creating an ongoing shortage of skilled workers.
General Motors, Google, Apple, Microsoft, EY and Accenture are some companies that have removed an educational requirement. General Motors has taken degree requirements out of many jobs listings, and Delta eased up on its education requirements for pilots at the start of 2022, saying a four-year college degree was preferred – but was no longer required.
If you want to work at IBM, it has removed the requirement for a four-year degree from the majority of its U.S.-based jobs. Bank of America no longer requires college degrees for the majority of its entry-level jobs, and Walmart, the country's largest employer, said it values skills and knowledge gained through work experience. Now, 75% of its U.S. salaried store management started their careers in hourly jobs.
Some experts predict that based on these trends, an additional 1.4 million jobs could open to workers without college degrees over the next five years.
Open to experience
It is not so surprising that the tech sector in particular is open to experience over education. After all, the industry boasts many founders from non-technical backgrounds, including Airbnb's founder Brian Chesky, who started his career as a designer. Pinterest's co-founder Ben Silbermann graduated with a Bachelor of Arts/Science from Yale University, before founding the tech giant.
Plenty of founders didn't finish college either. Tinder's founder Sean Rad dropped out from the University of Southern California, Dell founder Michael Dell dropped out of the University of Texas, and perhaps most famously, Meta's Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard in 2004 to devote himself to Facebook.
A degree is just one route to a job in the tech sector. Upskilling via online courses is popular, particularly for those who would like to get into software engineering. There are a wide range of MOOCs (massive open online courses) available from top universities, as well as dedicated education platforms such as Udemy and Wozniak's Woz U.
An increasing number of companies are also offering apprenticeships, including Accenture. Its apprenticeship program offers degrees up to Master's level, and the company intends to fill 20% of its entry level roles in the U.S. this way, in everything from app development to platform engineering.
If you're ready to look for a new job now, there are hundreds of companies hiring on the TechSpot Job Board – discover three exciting opportunities below.
Computer Systems Analyst – Technical Support Technician (TST), Northrop Grumman, Fort Sill
Northrop Grumman Defense Systems sector (NGDS) is seeking a Computer Systems Analyst – Technical Support Technician (TST) to join its growing team. You will function as the lead to conduct planning sessions to develop network support diagrams and supporting documentation.
You'll also develop network architectures for army mission command exercises and coordinate requirements with the units, among other tasks. Those with a high school diploma or GED with a minimum of six years of computer science, IT, cybersecurity and information assurance, or related technical experience, are invited to apply. Get the full details here.
Senior Product Researcher - UX, Lowe's, Charlotte
The Senior Product Researcher will establish the methodology and set the tactical direction for all usability testing and research associated with assigned projects at Lowe's. You'll understand how a product works and the various touch-points and complete competitive analysis, service flow diagrams, interviews, usability testing and benchmarking to improve products.
To apply you'll need a Bachelor's in anthropology, psychology, human-computer interaction, or human factors; however equivalent work experience in a related field will also be considered. Five years' experience in UX research or product management, and experience running large-scale usability and research studies are also necessary. Discover the full job description now.
Java Software Engineer, Apple, Cupertino
The Engineering Solutions team at Apple is looking for an experienced Java Software Engineer. You will partner with cross-functional teams across Apple, architecting, designing and implementing highly available and scalable enterprise solutions that can match Apple volumes.
Key qualifications include expertise in Java and Java Enterprise technology applications, plus six years' experience in designing and developing scalable enterprise level back end solutions, as well as proven skills and hands-on programming experience in Java, Spring, multi-threading, REST, Data Caching Services, DB schema design, and data access technologies. Apply for this role here.