Why & How to get into a Tech Career
James McDonagh, Director at a specialist technology recruitment firm, explains how to get into a tech career and why it should appeal to graduates.
The UK is experiencing a dire skills gap when it comes to tech. Universities simply can’t turn out tech graduates fast enough to keep pace with demand – this talent shortage will culminate in an estimated 800,000 IT jobs being unfilled by 2020. This huge deficit in workers is great news for graduates, however – whether they have a tech-based degree or not. A career in tech can be both financially lucrative and professionally rewarding, and there’s never been a better time to ride the digital wave to professional success.
But before we get into the how, let’s look at the why: what is it about a tech career that is so appealing to graduates?
A wealth of opportunity
The dearth of available talent in the country’s tech sector means that those entering the jobs market will have no shortage of opportunities to choose from. The tech space is creating jobs at five times the rate of the wider economy, with digital jobs accounting for one in every ten new roles generated.
If you’ve got the right skills and the right mindset, you’ll be a valuable commodity for any business looking for tech talent and will likely have your pick of jobs.
Skills + demand = high salaries, so it’s no surprise that pursuing a career in technology can be extremely financially rewarding.
A recent survey from Glassdoor found the average wage of an IT professional is around £62,500, rising significantly higher for those with specialist skills. Data scientists, cyber security experts, and software engineers are among the highest paid professionals in the UK right now, with many workers with really in-demand proficiencies essentially able to name their price.
Massive range of specialisms to choose from
‘Tech’ encompasses a massive range of roles and job types, so no matter what your skills are or what you’re interested in, there’s almost definitely a tech role out there that suits you down to the ground.
Though developers are some of the most in-demand professionals in the tech sphere, you don’t have to be a coder to land a job. There’s also a major need for people who can administrate tech platforms, make sense of data, or help users make the best choices for their digital transformation.
The skills in demand by employers are evolving rapidly; a huge number of today’s highest-paying jobs didn’t even exist when recent graduates started university. PwC has reported that around seven million UK jobs, primarily those in sectors such as manufacturing and transport, could be supplanted by AI by 2037 – but 7.2 million new tech jobs will be created.
In this transformative time, there aren’t many jobs that could be called future-proof, but a career in tech is your best bet for long-term professional success. Cloud skills, experience with software-as-a-service, and artificial intelligence are becoming gold dust on a CV. Roles like mobile developer, research analyst, cloud architect, security analyst and Salesforce consultant especially are set to grow exponentially in the next few years.
So, if that sounds like something you’d be interested in, how do you get started?
If you want something done right, sometimes you have to do it yourself. With many companies being forced to think outside the box when it comes to plugging the digital skills gaps in their workforce, there are a lot of graduate schemes or training programs out there for those looking to kick-start their careers in tech. Many of these schemes don’t even require graduates to have a computer-related degree to take part, just some keen soft skills and an enthusiasm for learning new skills. These schemes tend to have pretty good pay packets too; Royal Bank of Scotland’s Technology Graduate Programme pays a £31,850 starting salary (2019).
Faced with a growing skills gap, employers are less concerned about how you got your skills when applying for a tech job. Self-directed study and accreditations earned on your own time put you in a great light, demonstrating not only your tech skills but your willingness to constantly develop them. There are tons of tech certifications out there that you can earn independently, and having a few relevant badges on your CV will do wonders for your employability and your pay check.
Of course, the certification that’ll be most useful for boosting your career prospects depends on what area of tech you want to get into. Microsoft, for example, offers a wide range of career- and tech-aligned certifications that are both affordable and accessible.
With Salesforce professionals in high demand, certifications in the world’s leading CRM are also super valuable in today’s market too. Salesforce is well-known for its free, community-focused learning initiative Trailhead, which enables participants to undertake training and earn badges free of charge.
Cisco accreditations are also popular and cover a huge selection of technology areas that will pique an employer’s interest, such as data centre management, security, cyber ops, and cloud computing. Speaking of cloud, the increasing uptake of cloud business services means certifications from vendors like Google and AWS will certainly stand you in good stead to start your tech career.
Employers are putting increasing stock in soft skills when hiring tech talent.
Given that the sector is fast-moving and extremely competitive, employers often value culture fit and enthusiasm as highly as technical skills, so demonstrating that you’re keen to take charge of your personal development is a big plus for hiring managers. Being able to communicate effectively, build relationships, solve problems and adapt to change will make you enormously valuable, no matter how green your tech skills are.
James is Director of EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa) at niche technology recruitment firm Frank Recruitment Group.
James joined the company in 2010 after completing a Master’s degree in international studies and diplomacy. Based in Newcastle upon Tyne, he also oversees the company’s Warsaw office, which launched in 2018.