Technology is an area everyone wants to get into these days because it seems like there’s endless demand for people with expertise in it. In reality, there’s probably no industry with limitless demand for employees. But there has in fact been a pretty steady need for new people with computer technology skills for several decades, in spite of economic ups and downs. That need is likely to keep growing, because nowadays it’s not just “tech” companies like Google who need tech experts. Insurance companies, retailers, financial, media and many other types of organizations have become tremendously reliant on technology, and they all need people to create and manage their digital applications.
Which Way To Go?
In spite of all the opportunity, it can be tough to choose a technology specialty to pursue if you’re new to the field. It’s a very diverse world where different types of specialists have very different skill sets. The bad news is that if you don’t have a basic familiarity with computers, this will be a hard area to get started in. The good news, however, is that if you are used to learning new apps and skills on a computer, there are lots of tech specialties that pay well which do not require you to be a code-writing engineer.
Below is a list of job specialties all estimated by Payscale to pay salaries in excess of $100,000. per year. Jobs are listed from the highest-paying on top, to those drawing slightly lower salaries towards the bottom. As you might expect, the top-paying specialties require more knowledge of programming languages and more experience than the lower-paying ones. But the lower paying ones are also over the $100,000 mark in average salary, and can offer the best chances for entry into the industry.
This is a very-high end job that requires a wide understanding of databases and how they interface with websites, mobile apps and data feeds both internal (like company HR systems) and external (like data streams the feed financial news sites). Requires knowledge of data modeling systems, SQL and a strong background in project management and company communications. You’re likely to be a very important person on the company if you have the title of data scientist or data architect, but you’ll need to be able to quickly fix any problems that arise with data collection and storage systems because any breakdown in them can paralyze and entire company.
Ruby on Rails developer
If you talk to people in tech, you’ll get lots of different opinions on which programming language you should learn for maximum success. But there’s no doubt that lots of job listings right now are listing Ruby on Rails skills as a requirement for employment. It’s a web application framework for the Ruby language that enables to creation of databases, sites and more. The good news is that with a basic knowledge of the language you can get into framework testing and deployment, and then gradually develop the skills to move up to application development.
Mobile apps have emerged as the most important elements in many digital businesses. Instagram for Uber, for example, barely work as desktop websites at all – they function almost entirely as mobile apps.
It used to be that developers designed sites without very deep knowledge of how end users reacted to their designs. Most companies have now realized that this is a bad approach, and have hired experts in user interface (UI) or user experience (UX) to insure that websites are extremely easy to use and intuitive. UX pros specialize in a very functional type of design, as opposed to the more graphic approach we associate with the “web designer” title. To excel at UX, you need to be good with wire-framing, user research and mock-ups.
WordPress / PHP developer
Whether you realize it or not, the vast majority of websites you find today are running on a content management system (CMS) called WordPress. It just so happens that you can get WordPress for free. But anyone who uses it, from the individual blogger to the large corporation, needs to customize it and maintain it. WordPress runs on a language called PHP, and also involves CSS and HTML. You’ll need to develop a knowledge of themes (which govern the appearance of a site) and various plugins. A nice thing about this specialty is that you can either use it as a freelancer helping small website owners or in a large company environment.
A QA specialist looks at a new website and check out every single minute detail of it to make sure its working properly. It’s an important role, because companies want fix bugs and glitches in their sites before their end users or customers find them. It’s a good specialty to use as a gateway into the world of tech, as it requires a general familiarity with the web, but not any deep programming experience.