How to Start an IT Career Without a Tech Degree

All degrees are accepted for graduate jobs in IT and technology. Here's how non-IT graduates can gain the skills they need for IT careers.
Ivy Simon
Editorial Writer
All degrees are accepted for graduate jobs in IT and technology. Here's how non-IT graduates can gain the skills they need for IT careers.

If you’re a non-IT graduate who’s keen on transitioning to a career in IT, then here’s some good news. A recent study by the Harvard Business Review and labour market research firm Emsi Burning Glass showed that an increasing number of tech companies worldwide have dropped degree requirements for roles and are now focused on skills-based hiring instead. 

Essentially, if you can prove you have the technical and soft skills an employer requires, you have a good shot at landing the job! So as a non-IT graduate, here are a few steps that you can take to acquire the skills you need for a career in IT. 

1.Learn a programming language (or languages)

To qualify for most IT jobs, you will need to know at least one programming language. Some of the most popular programming languages to begin with JavaScript, Python, C, C++, or C#.

Python and JavaScript in particular are regarded among the easiest programming languages for novices to master, as they are both beginner-friendly and practical.  JavaScript is mainly used for front-end web development, and 97.8 percent of all websites utilise it as a client-side programming language.  Python is an all-purpose language that can be used for many different things, including web development, prototyping, automation, or data analysis and visualisation. 

You can, of course, choose to pick up other languages like PHP or SQL However, it’s wiser to stick to object-oriented languages (e.g. Javascript, Python, C++, etc.) to start, as those are most in demand among employers right now.

You have multiple options to pick up programming languages, whether it’s taking modules at university, joining online courses on sites like Coursera, or even following YouTube tutorials meant for beginners. If you’ve already graduated, you can sign up for a conversion course. Some, like the one run by 42KL, are even tuition-free – provided you can pass their screening process. 

Don’t worry about where you learned to code or whether a course is “accredited”. Employers don’t really care about that. All you need to prove to them is that you are ultimately fluent in your chosen programming language. 

2.Prove your passion for technology

Recruiters tend to be more convinced that you are suited for the job if you can demonstrate how you actively sought out opportunities when it comes to IT. So be on the lookout for chances to showcase and improve your skills. 

Once you’ve learned a programming language, you can start out by developing and publishing small projects or online apps. You can also take part in hackathons or other IT-related events, join online communities and take part in open-source programming projects, or search for internships in the field. 

Gaining work experience as an intern is by far the most ideal way to further develop your technology skills and acquire experience from the industry. Keep an eye out for internship and work opportunities in the technology sector that accept applications from non-STEM and non-technical students. A tech internship will not only show employers that you are serious about a career in IT, it will also help you determine whether a career in the tech industry truly is the best fit for you.

3.Focus on transferable skills

Beyond just coding skills, tech employers are on the lookout for soft (or transferable) skills in candidates as well. Some of the main soft skills that they look for in new hires are problem-solving skills, teamwork skills, analytical skills, and being innovative.

Non-tech graduates may also bring different strengths to the table, compared to those who studied IT or computer science. For example, a music graduate may possess the ability to recognise patterns easily, whereas a graduate in English may have strong analytical skills and an eye for noticing errors. These are all skills that tech employers value too, since having a variety of past experiences and thought processes on their tech teams may open doors to a wider range of solutions to problems.   

Keep developing your soft skills through work experience, assignments, hobbies, or extra-curricular activities. Tech is still in the business of serving people, after all. So you’ll need to be a well-rounded individual if you hope to work with other people to develop solutions that the market needs. 

4.Promote your skills online

Promoting your skills and presence online may give you an advantage as a candidate. Two platforms you can consider using are GitHub and Stack Overflow. 

Stack Overflow is a public forum where you can ask questions about computer programming and receive responses from users around the world. You will likely visit it often to get help in troubleshooting your code as an amateur programmer. But being an avid user helps you to build a name and increase visibility for yourself. Registered Stack Overflow users can increase their ranking through upvotes by providing good answers to questions posted by another user. 

Tech recruiters often search Stack Overflow while screening potential candidates. If you have a decent reputation on there and a post history of well thought-out questions and answers, you can point recruiters towards your profile there as further proof of your interest and skills in tech.  

GitHub is an online repository for code, so you can upload past programming projects on it as proof of work. Many tech companies do check the platform to scout for new hires, so make sure your profile is publicly visible. You can also link to your GitHub profile in your CV or LinkedIn page so recruiters can easily view your past works. 

5.Look out for training opportunities

Employers who hire non-IT graduates will often invest time in training them. While methods of training may vary, it typically involve a mixture of “classroom” learning, work shadowing, and project work. Some may even run in-house courses to teach new programming languages to incoming graduate hires. 

Before applying, you can look at the training that is on offer at the tech company and consider how the training would fit you and add to your expertise. 

During the job search and interview process, feel free to ask employers about how the training they offer can help you fill self-identified skills gaps as well. This may reassure them that you are aware of what your strengths and weaknesses are, and where they need to spend more time helping you to become a more productive hire.