Laurence Bradford, Forbes 27 Oct 2016 Viewed 2036 Times Viewed by 1636 people

Who said you need a college degree to earn the big bucks? It’s a common misconception that if you don’t have a bachelor’s, you’ll be stuck in minimum wage all your life. In reality, there are plenty of jobs out there that won’t make you take out a billion student loans. Here are 13 lucrative tech jobs you can land without a four-year degree.


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All data has been taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unless otherwise noted.

1. Computer user support specialist

Median annual wage, 2015: $48,620 (BLS)

Computer user support specialists provide technical assistance to users by answering questions or resolving computer problems. This can be in person, through telephone or electronically (over chat messaging or email).

2. Junior data analyst

Median annual wage: $52,188 (Payscale)

Data is so hot right now that even entry-level analysts can make good money. Usually, junior analysts are the ones who conduct searches for data, create Excel spreadsheets and generate material for analysis, and present their findings to more senior colleagues, who handle the bulk of the more complex work. Some jobs do require a degree to enter the field; others do not.

3. Computer network support specialists

Median annual wage, 2015: $62,250 (BLS)

Computer network support specialists are responsible for keeping networks running smoothly. They test, troubleshoot, analyze, perform maintenance, and solve network problems. Usually you’ll need a certificate or associate’s degree to enter this career.

4. Digital marketer

Median annual wage: $63,239 (Payscale)

Marketing via the Internet is one of the primary ways companies reach customers in the 21st century. Digital marketers enable this in a variety of ways: search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), social media marketing, content marketing, e-mail marketing, and others. Often a digital marketer will specialize in only one or two of these areas.

5. Cyber security analysts (entry level)

Median annual wage: $63,911 (Payscale)

Many cyber security professionals who obtain four-year degrees head straight for the higher-up positions after graduating, leaving companies with a dearth of entry-level workers to handle a lot of the day-to-day. Junior cyber security analysts handle the “grunt work” like reviewing logs, controlling network settings, doing basic testing, etc.

 

6. Multimedia artist

Median annual wage, 2015: $63,970 (BLS)

Multimedia artists often do have bachelor’s degrees, but they are not required. They work with various programs and technologies to develop animation, designs and special effects for movies, commercials, video games and other forms of electronic media.

7. Web developer

Median annual wage, 2015: $64,970 (BLS)

Web developers are the behind-the-scenes staff of the Internet: they design, create, and maintain websites. This involves writing code for the site, making layout decisions, considering the user interface, solving bugs/problems that emerge, and more. Many web developers are completely self-taught, while others have associate’s degrees or other formal certifications.

8. Web designer / front end developer

Median annual wage: $66,000 (Indeed)

Web developers typically work on the “back end” of websites — leaving the “front end” to web designers. Designers work on all the parts you see: a website’s appearance, interactive features, layout, images, and sometimes even content.

9. Aerospace engineering and operations technicians

Median annual wage, 2015: $66,180 (BLS)

You might expect something this advanced-sounding to require a four-year degree, but in reality most aerospace engineering and operations technicians only need an associate’s. They are responsible for operating and caring for the equipment used to build and test aircraft and spacecraft.

10. Mobile app developer

Median annual wage: $76,061 (Glassdoor)

In a time when competitive businesses need not only a website, but a well-designed mobile app as well, mobile app developers are in high demand. Mobile app developers are responsible for coding, testing, and debugging applications. Experience and skill matter more than formal education.

11. Software engineer

Median annual wage: $79,357 (Payscale)

Like web and app development, software engineering is a skill that’s often self-taught, and a degree is less important than proof that you know what you’re doing. They develop, design, test, install and maintain software. Most software engineers specialize in either applications software or systems software.

12. Information technology manager

Median annual wage: $80,811 (Payscale)

By working your way up from starter IT roles, you can eventually become an IT manager in a department. Managers often supervise teams, as well as being responsible for monitoring the company’s IT infrastructure. They are also the ones who develop the rules and protocol governing the use of company computers, data, and network access.

13. DevOps engineer

National average salary: $100,000 (Glassdoor)

DevOps is a relatively new field, so it’s a prime time to get into it. A conglomerate of “development” and “operations,” DevOps is a software development methodology that emphasizes collaboration. DevOps engineers are able to work with, and help implement, the organizational culture shift that the program entails.

In lots of tech careers, like those above, formal education doesn’t matter. What does matter is skills, experience and the ability to learn new things. Does this mean you should forgo college altogether? Not necessarily. Instead, take comfort in knowing that you have options. You aren’t doomed for financial insecurity if you don’t have a diploma in hand.


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