How to Get into Tech: Pathways to Your First Tech Job
If you’re looking to get into tech, you’re making a good choice:
- Average salaries start at $20 an hour but can go up to $100s (according to Indeed).
- It’s a fast-growing industry with several opportunities.
- You don’t always need to have a university degree to get started.
Plus, there are many different roles in tech. That means you’ll have the opportunity to choose a career path that suits your skills—whether that’s in web development, marketing, robotics, or project management.
It also means that there’s not just one single pathway to get into the industry. If you talk to anyone in tech, their stories of how they got there will be different. When starting out, the challenge is to know which path to take.
In this post, we show you some of those options, including college training and internships with tech companies. We’ll also introduce you to the courses we offer at Climb Hire, which combines professional training, official certification, and networking opportunities.
But first, let’s talk through what recruiters and employers are looking for in people who are hoping to land their first tech job.
Climb Hire is a non-profit organization dedicated to preparing low-income and overlooked working adults for a career in tech. To kickstart your career, discover our courses and apply.
4 Concrete Things You Need for a Job in Tech
Tech employers and recruiters will be looking for 4 key things in anyone applying for an entry-level tech job.
1. Proof of Skills
A lot of people think that you need to have a college degree in computer science or something similar to get into tech. It doesn’t hurt—but it’s not a must. Just look at the likes of Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, or other tech leaders who never completed their degrees.
That said, having a way to prove your skill set is useful. It’s just that these come in a variety of forms, and a college degree is not the only one that matters.
For instance, you could instead get:
- A technical degree from a community college. Technical degrees are different from college degrees because they’re shorter (2 years rather than four), tend to be cheaper, and they’re specifically focused on tech skills.
- An industry-recognised certification. If you want to have credentials in information technology (IT), a CompTIA certificate is really useful. It takes about 3 months to prepare for. Alternatively, you could get something like a Google Ads certification, which is recognized across the tech industry.
These certifications show potential employers that you have some technical knowledge of the field in which you’re applying. This is most important if you’re applying for technical roles, such as in software engineering or data science.
But for any career, these certifications show much more than hard skills. They also indicate that you’re committed to your career change and that you’re willing to put the time and effort in to get there. For hiring managers in any industry, this is a really attractive quality.
2. Industry or Workplace Experience
There’s a common frustrating cycle for people looking to move into a new career or industry. They’re often told they need experience—but it’s difficult to get experience without some basic experience already.
In reality, though, experience can mean a lot of different things. Of course, some directly relevant role would be ideal. You could get this from an internship, volunteering, or a real-life project that you complete on training courses.
But this sort of experience is not the only way for you to land that dream job in tech. Instead, you can leverage any experience to show you’re a good fit for whichever role you’re applying to. For example:
- If you’ve worked in hospitality or retail, your experience can be really valuable for customer-facing tech roles.
- If you’ve juggled multiple roles in the past, it can show your conscientiousness and ability to manage competing tasks.
- If you’ve worked in a warehouse for Amazon, it can show you have hands-on experience of the company’s systems.
At Climb Hire, we’ve helped people swap a role as a barista for one as a business analyst, or from a cashier to a project coordinator. You can do it, too. The important thing is to show how your experience can help you in the role you’re applying for.
3. Soft Skills
Even in the most technical roles, technical skills are not all you’ll need. To succeed in an interview and build useful relationships throughout a tech career, you also need soft skills.
Also known as transferable skills, these are not specific to tech. Yet they’re just as important in this industry as in any other. Soft skills include:
- Interview skills. These are what help you sell your experience to a prospective employer. For instance, writing a cover letter is an invaluable skill, and so is presenting yourself as professional and committed.
- People skills. These can include how to work in a team, how to lead others, and how to manage conflict or solve problems together. Communication skills also include listening, following instructions, or letting people know when there’s a problem.
- Other soft skills include time management, critical thinking, problem solving, adaptability, and managing stress.
As we say, these aren’t skills that are only necessary for tech professionals. The good news is that you’ll have gained many of these skills in any other career or role you’ve had in the past. The harder part is showing any new employer that you know how to use them.
That’s why any good training program or degree you choose should include some training in soft skills and how to use them.
4. The Right Attitude
Finally, recruiters and employers will also want to see that you have the right attitude to fit into a particular job. For instance, they’ll be impressed to see that you have a commitment to or interest in their organization—as well as a passion for what you want to do.
In a way, this is a kind of soft skill. But it’s particularly important, as real passion can make a candidate stand out. That means that even if you’re not the most experienced interviewee, a good attitude can still give you a really good chance of landing that role.
The Secret Superpower for a Successful Career: Your Network
It’s the worst-kept secret in any line of work. Knowing people and having contacts in an organization or industry can make your job search a whole lot easier. Your contacts can let you know when opportunities open. They can give you advice or tutorials on your job applications. And they may be able to put in a good word for you with the hiring manager.
Ultimately, that’s why networking is such an important part of getting into a new career. Having some rooting for you within the tech industry can be a huge leg up.
But how do you build a network if you’re not already in the industry?
For one thing, attending a training course can help. This way, you can meet peers who are in the same position as you, and you can help each other with writing applications and finding opportunities along the way.
Alternatively, you can work hard to build your network all by yourself. A LinkedIn profile (or other social media) will help. But it’s often more useful to attend local events or meetups in the industry you’re most interested in joining.
How to Get into Tech: 5 of the Best Pathways
So far, we’ve shared some of the most useful things you need to have when starting a career in tech. But how do you get them? Below, we outline 5 concrete options.
1. Climb Hire
Climb Hire is a non-profit organization helping low-income and overlooked working adults start a career in tech.
We provide Climbers with the hard and soft skills—and the contacts—you need to launch your career, through rigorous technical training, interview preparation, and networking opportunities. Plus, Climbers benefit from a supportive environment to help them apply for and land that first job after training.
Thanks to this support, over 80% of Climbers secure new roles within 6 months of finishing one of our programs. On average, after graduating and starting a new role, their income typically doubles—from $24k to a $50k+ salary.
There are other benefits of training with Climb Hire, too:
- Train towards an official, recognised tech qualification. This can be a Google Ads Certification or CompTIA A+, although we’re adding new learning tracks all the time.
- Build real-world experience. Every course gives you the opportunity for a keystone project for a real client. This way, you get hands-on experience delivering for a tech company.
- Get supported in finding your first role. Throughout the courses, you’ll also be taught the skills you need for tech industry job applications, interviews, and more.
- Access our supportive community and vibrant alumni network. It’s a really valuable network that offers accountability when you’re training and contacts to help you with opportunities in the future.
Climb Hire programs give you everything you need for a tech career—not just the hard skills. We also provide an environment that boosts your chances of landing work.
In fact, what makes Climb Hire stand out is that it’s in our interest to help you get a job. Climbers only start paying back the cost of the course when they earn over $40k ($47k in California). That means we have a real stake in helping you find and gain a job in tech.
So, what kind of training can you complete with Climb Hire?
What Tech Roles Can Climb Hire Prepare Me For?
Climb Hire offers various learning tracks, which prepare you for exams in internationally recognized tech certifications. Each course lasts between 3 and 6 months, combining online learning with personal assignments.
For example, Climbers can be qualified with:
- The CompTIA A+ certification
- The Google Ads certification
- The Meta Certified Digital Marketing Associate certification
These certifications are designed to help you get a directly relevant role in IT, digital marketing, or Google Ads. However, over the years, our graduates have gotten into roles in robotics, consultancy, customer success, and more.
How to Get Started with Climb Hire
You don’t need a degree or any qualifications to get onto a Climb Hire program. Instead, we just want to see that you’ve got the right attitude to succeed in a career in tech.
To get started, all you have to do is apply. Once we’ve looked at your application, you’ll be invited for an interview. After that, if we’re a good match for each other, you’ll be welcomed to the course. Explore our learning tracks and apply today.
2. Community College Courses
An alternative option is a community college course. These provide training in a variety of subjects and learning structures.
In almost all cases, these courses will be aimed towards a qualification or certificate. However, unlike at Climb Hire, you won’t always receive much in the way of training for soft skills or interview techniques. That will depend on the specific course (and some colleges have career advisors), but the focus tends to be on the technical skills only.
As we mentioned above, colleges typically offer technical degrees. These are 2-year courses, usually offering a really rigorous education. However, you’ll need to pay up front. And two years of studying may not be something you want—or can—to commit to.
Alternatively, you can take an evening or part-time class. These often provide training towards certificates such as CompTIA, and they usually last for 8+ weeks.
If it’s just technical training that you need, then community college can be a great option that’s well-respected in the industry. However, what a community college won’t do is support you to actually get a job. That means once you’ve graduated, it’s on you.
3. Internships or Volunteer Opportunities
One route that gives you a really good chance of landing a role in tech is an internship or volunteering opportunity. These are usually unpaid roles that give you direct experience in a tech company (or in any other industry).
You’ll gain experience in the working environment, do real work on real projects, and get to know the people who work there. These experiences also look great on your resume when you go on to apply for paid work later on.
You can typically apply for an internship in 2 ways:
- Look for advertised opportunities as you would for any other job. Most companies have some sort of intern role and they’ll often list them on their own websites, through recruiters, or on jobs sites like Indeed.
- Reach out directly to companies you admire with your resume. Even if a company doesn’t advertise an internship, you can still ask them whether they’ll take you on. This approach can also show you’ve got initiative.
As you may well know already, though, it’s not always easy to get an internship. They’re usually really competitive. To actually secure one, you’ll usually need some experience, skills, and an impressive resume. It also helps to have some contacts within the company you’re applying to, which not everyone has.
4. Online Courses or Bootcamps
Another way to get some of the skills and experience you need for a tech career is to take a specific tech course. These come in a variety of forms. And, if we’re honest, some are more useful than others:
The more reputable ones are well-attended, such as those run by FlatIron School, General Assembly, or some universities. They can give you a large peer network alongside the training, which is an important additional benefit.
- Self-directed courses. If you don’t want to attend classes or pay for a course, you can train towards major certifications by yourself. For instance, you can learn most of what you need for a Salesforce certification for free online.
The trouble with this approach is that, unlike with Climb Hire, you won’t be able to access any peer support, guidance, or training in soft skills. And, once you have the certification, you won’t have any support in actually finding work.
That said, these courses can be useful if you have a niche interest within tech, for example. In these situations, you may be able to find a course that’s particularly relevant to you, but that’s not available at a community college.
Crucially, though, you’ll have to choose these courses wisely. There are many of them out there—and some are more attractive to recruiters than others.
5. Go It Alone
Your final option is to build your tech career all by yourself. By this, we mean developing your skills and network entirely from scratch.
It’s something that many people in tech have done to build their own business or secure a successful career. However, it requires significant drive, commitment, and time. And there’s no guarantee that you’ll get any results at the end.
To build your tech career, you could:
- Sell your services to other companies.
- Start your own tech business.
- Grow an audience through a blog, podcast, or website.
- Cultivate a social media presence, by sharing useful content on LinkedIn
You’ll always need some skills before you can do this though, whether that’s in software development, cybersecurity, or something else. As such, some sort of training—either self-directed or on a course—will be necessary.
Climb Hire Will Give You the Support You Need to Get into Tech
Whether you fancy becoming an IT expert or a digital ads specialist, Climb Hire can give you the skills and hands-on experience to help you land that first role. Plus, you’ll get dedicated support—and access to a vibrant network—throughout your job hunt.
Climb Hire has helped hundreds of talented, determined people break into tech. They’ve benefited from:
- No upfront costs whatsoever.
- 80% of graduates secure new roles within 6 months.
- $50k+ average starting income.
Apply today, and get started on your journey into a tech career.