If the thought of four or more extra years of formal education exhausts you or simply does not appeal to you, you may be wondering if there is a way to earn a comfortable living without pursuing an advanced degree. The answer to that question is “yes”, depending on which tech career path you choose to follow.
Self-learners Find Success in Tech
To be clear, you do need to acquire the requisite skills if you expect to get a great job in tech today. The good news, however, is that acquiring those skills does not always entail pursuing a degree. Many successful tech workers are self-taught.
For instance, according to a recent Stack Overflow survey of over 50,000 developers from 178 countries, 69.1 percent of developers are self-taught, and 43.9 percent report receiving on-the-job training to become proficient with their required skill set.
There are abundant opportunities for self-motivated individuals to pick up the skills required for a variety of tech jobs. Online courses, certification programs, and forums dedicated to mentoring and sharing advice and support for self-learners are all good options for developing your skills while avoiding a more conventional scholastic path.
Unlike some other industries, tech is fairly tolerant of skilled people who take a self-directed educational path. An argument can be made that it is just that kind of out-of-the-box thinking that tech companies value in an employee.
After all, think of Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, who is famously known as “Harvard’s most successful dropout” and Steve Jobs, who dropped out of Reed College after just six months and went on to become a co-founder of Apple, among other tech accomplishments.
Gates and Jobs are not the only ones, either. Here are a few other examples of tech founders who were largely self-taught:
- David Karp, founder of Tumblr
- Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba.com
- Kevin Systrom, co-founder of Instagram
Even if you do not aspire to be the next Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or David Karp, these examples illustrate that your potential in the tech field is not limited by the amount of formal education you receive, but by the skills and mental ability you can bring to the table.
So, what types of jobs can you get without a degree in computer science or a related field? Paysa has gathered data from thousands of tech companies and job descriptions to answer that question. Here, then, are some of the six-figure jobs in tech that do not necessarily require an advanced degree.
*Note: salaries shown here may have updated from the time of publication.
The average base salary is $80K per year, and the average market salary for employees is $111K per year, which includes $80K base salary, $12K annual bonus and $19K annual equity.
Web developer salaries, per Paysa data.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those with systems administrator jobs are responsible for designing and maintaining the network and computer systems for an organization. They install hardware and software to meet organizational needs, and then monitor, maintain, and optimize the system over time.
According to Paysa research, only 64 percent of system administrator positions expressly require a bachelor’s degree, making systems admin jobs well within the reach of self-taught workers. Top skills for systems administrator jobs include troubleshooting, databases, and integration.
The average base salary for a systems administrator is $89K per year, and the average market salary is $113K per year, which includes $89K base salary, $14K annual bonus and $10K annual equity.
Systems administrator salaries, per Paysa data.
Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer
Quora contributor Kateryna Cengiz gives this simple definition of a QA engineer’s job: “Basically, QA engineers monitor every phase of the software development process to ensure design quality, making sure that the software adheres to the standards set by the development company and the client. To put it differently, they help ensure that the final product does what it is supposed to.”
According to Paysa data, 74 percent of QA engineer positions require a bachelor’s degree. Top skills needed include quality assurance, testing, agile methodologies, SQL, and testing automation.
The average base salary for QA engineers is $90K, and the average market salary is $136K per year, which includes $90K base salary, $19K annual bonus and $27K annual equity.
QA Engineer salaries, per Paysa data.
Backend developers build out the server side in web applications and also work on optimizing the applications for speed and efficiency. They may also be involved in creating data storage solutions within a database.
The average base salary for backend developers is $86K, and the average market salary is $130K per year, which includes $86K base salary, $18K annual bonus and $27K annual equity.
Backend developer salaries, per Paysa data.
Academicinvest.com describes the job functions of a UI designer in this way: “User interface designers are responsible for creating functional and visually appealing user interfaces for websites, databases, computer programs, and applications. They must ensure that icons and features displayed on the interface of a computer program can be easily interpreted by users without excessive explanation, thus making areas where users directly interact with technology easy and intuitive to use.”
According to Paysa data, 74 percent of UI designer positions require a bachelor’s degree. Top skills you need in order to land a job as a UI designer include UI design, web design, user experience, and graphic design.
The average base salary for UI designers is $93K, and the average market salary is $168K per year, which includes $93K base salary, $15K annual bonus and $60K annual equity.
UI designer salaries, per Paysa data.
UX designers concentrate their efforts on improving the user experience with an application or website. The purpose of UX design is to make the product useful, enjoyable, and usable to the target audience. It involves research, design, testing, and implementation.
Paysa data suggests that 78 percent of UX design positions require a bachelor’s degree, making it a bit more difficult to land the job without further education, but still well within reach for self-starters. Top skills needed are user experience, user interface design, web design, and interaction design.
The average base salary is $86K per year, and the average market salary is $132K per year, which includes $86K base salary, $16K annual bonus and $30K annual equity.
UX designer salaries, per Paysa data.
While the specific definition of what a DevOps engineer does may differ from company to company, generally speaking, a DevOps engineer is well-versed in software development and information technology and knows how to facilitate software delivery and implement any needed infrastructure changes along the way.
This job requires an extensive skill set, but does not necessarily call for an advanced degree. Paysa data reveals that 73 percent of DevOps engineering positions require a bachelor’s degree. Top skills include Linux, Python, and Java.
The average base salary for DevOps engineers is $104K, and the average market salary is $147K per year, which includes $104K base salary, $18K annual bonus and $24K annual equity.
DevOps engineer salaries, per Paysa data.
Mobile App Developer
Identified by CNN.com as one of the best jobs in America, mobile app developers are in big demand currently. Mobile app developers, much as the title indicates, develop mobile apps and update them as needed.
The average base salary for mobile app developers is $90K, and the average market salary is $121K per year, which includes $90K base salary, $13K annual bonus and $18K annual equity.
Mobile app developer salaries, per Paysa data.
Using the Right Tools for the Job
When everything is said and done, tech companies are looking for the right skill set for the job much more than simply the right educational level on a resume. From systems administrator jobs to mobile app developer jobs and more, the right set of technical skills will get your foot in the door of tech companies everywhere.
If you are on the hunt for available jobs that match your current skill set, Paysa can help. With comprehensive data on the requirements for thousands of job descriptions and their corresponding compensation information, Paysa can help you both determine the skills you need to acquire for your dream job and negotiate a job offer in your chosen field with confidence. Sign up to leverage the platform at Paysa.com today!