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10 high-paying tech jobs that don’t require a degree

According to Coding Dojo, career-ready high school graduates can earn up to $96,000 with the right skills.

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Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Thanks to coding bootcamps, accelerated programming courses, and ambitious high-school graduates, you don’t necessarily need a college degree to land a high-paying job in the tech world. According to just-released research from Coding Dojo, someone without a degree can earn nearly $96,000. 

This is good news for students whose in-person internships were canceled, or who were frustrated with many universities’ abrupt switch to remote. In a poll taken last month, 34.6% of students weren’t sure if the pandemic affected plans to get a degree, and 3.8% of students actually quit and abandoned plans for a college degree. 

“For far too many students and their parents, going to the ‘best’ university is their ultimate goal, but career readiness should be the goal,” said Richard Wang, CEO of Coding Dojo. 

Wang pointed out that there are also too many students who go to college without a specific plan and hope to figure out what they want to do. 

“The result of this approach can be devastating,” Wang said, with students ending up with thousands of dollars in debt (the student loan bubble is at $1.6 trillion.)

The students may also have “irrelevant or no degrees at all, because they didn’t know why they were going in the first place,” he said “This stems from students hearing throughout their life that a four-year degree is key to a successful career, but that’s not necessarily true.”

With many US workers still unable to return to work, it can be a grim forecast, especially for students who have yet to get a career-possible job and who feel their future is so uncertain, they’ve  fallen down into the doomscrolling rabbit hole. Students focused on what they feel is a bleak future may experience “ruminative thinking and panic attacks,” said psychiatrist Pavan Madan, from Community Psychiatry in Davis, CA. 

The potential for a career-driven, well-paying job without a BS or a BA (or even more advanced degrees) is not only positive news for high-school grads, but for those who are degree-less, already in the workforce, and who might use the opportunity to shift gears into a new position.

“One outcome of this shift will be a rise in apprenticeships,” Wang said. “Many large employers are already exploring this option. Workers get paid to learn new skills without incurring student debt, and employers save money on recruitment costs. It’s a win-win. With the apprentice system, businesses can build powerful bases of qualified and effective employees from the ground up. Meanwhile, those employees aren’t burdened with tens of thousands of dollars in debt and can more meaningfully engage with the economy.”

Top 10 tech jobs that don’t require a degree

These technology jobs were culled from a list of the top 50 best (overall) jobs across industries for 2020. Job satisfaction was evaluated on a scale of one to five, with five being best. Listed salary is the average annual base pay for zero to one year of experience. At the top of the list? 

  1. Data scientist

Overall ranking (of 50): No. 3 
Job satisfaction: 4
Starting salary $96,000
Glassdoor internships available: 90
Glassdoor entry-level positions available: 577

2.  Front-end engineer

Overall ranking (of 50): No. 1 
Job satisfaction: 3.9
Starting salary $63,500
Glassdoor internships available: 119
Glassdoor entry-level positions available: 1,381

3. Java developer 

Overall ranking (of 50): No. 2 
Job satisfaction: 3.9
Starting salary $63,000
Glassdoor internships available: 62
Glassdoor entry-level positions available: 288

4. Data engineer 

Overall ranking (of 50): No. 6 
Job satisfaction: 3.9
Starting salary $87,035
Glassdoor internships available: 256
Glassdoor entry-level positions available: 1,497

5. Software engineer 

Overall ranking (of 50): No. 7 
Job satisfaction: 3.6
Starting salary $82,000
Glassdoor internships available: 399
Glassdoor entry-level positions available: 2,001

6. Applications engineer 

Overall ranking (of 50): No. 18
Job satisfaction: 3.7
Starting salary $59,230
Glassdoor internships available: 272
Glassdoor entry-level positions available: 1,788

7. Business analyst 

Overall ranking (of 50): No. 26 
Job satisfaction: 3.6
Starting salary $58,340
Glassdoor internships available: 174
Glassdoor entry-level positions available: 1,764

8. Systems engineer 

Overall ranking (of 50): No. 27 
Job satisfaction: 3.5
Starting salary $67,370
Glassdoor internships available: 191
Glassdoor entry-level positions available: 1,381

9. Software developer 

Overall ranking (of 50): No. 32 
Job satisfaction: 3.5
Starting salary $66,800
Glassdoor internships available: 198
Glassdoor entry-level positions available: 871

10. Cloud engineer 

Overall ranking (of 50): No. 33 
Job satisfaction: 3.6
Starting salary $82,780
Glassdoor internships available: 314
Glassdoor entry-level positions available: 343

Skills matter more

“More and more employers are starting to realize that a degree isn’t what matters, skills are,” Wang said. “Many companies—from startups to marquee employers, such as Apple, Google, IBM and others—no longer require four-year degrees when hiring.”              

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