Jun 24, 2020

Women in Tech: How to Transition to Tech Roles in 2020

Women continue to be underrepresented in many economic sectors. Unfortunately, tech is no different. The figures say it all—approximately 20 percent of all jobs in technology worldwide are held by women. Even today, only 18 percent of computer science degree holders in the US are women.

Female professionals looking to transition to a career in tech may be held back by several factors. They may be intimidated about entering this male-dominated world. Perhaps they feel like they don’t have the skills required to complete the transition. The journey to becoming a tech professional may not be easy, but there are plenty of ways to get there if you put in the work.

Talent Mobility

Many believe that you need to have impressive coding skills or be a maths whizz to be employed in the tech sector, but that’s nothing more than a myth. The truth is that companies in the tech sector require the services of professionals from a wide array of sectors. These professionals can have very satisfying and lucrative careers.

A culture and compensation data platform, Comparably, recently compiled results from more than 14,500 users to determine the most popular jobs in tech companies for people without a technical background. The workers came from small, mid-size, and large companies, including Apple, Uber, and Facebook. The study found plenty of roles that require little to no tech experience—some with hefty salaries and bonuses attached.

These are a few of the non-technical roles in high demand among tech companies such as accountants (with the base salary of $60,249), copywriters ($65,976), customer service managers ($65,400), business analysts ($78,393), and marketing managers ($81,095).

The thing is that these positions can also serve as a springboard to a full technical career. Many people have been hired by tech companies as copywriters or social media managers and then progressively transition into a technical role. You may enter a tech company as a non-techie, get bitten by the coding bug, and start learning a programming language or tool that interests you. Eventually, you may transition to a full technical role such as a web designer, digital marketer, or SEO expert.

Get the Skills You Need

If you are considering a career shift, you will need to acquire certain skills and knowledge. You have several options at your disposal.

The traditional route is to study computer science at a university or college to earn an academic degree. Many tech employers indeed favor university graduates, but earning a college degree entails a four-year commitment and a huge financial investment.

A second—and increasingly more popular—path is to attend a coding bootcamp. Bootcamps allow you to acquire the skills you need to have your foot in the door quickly. In less than 15 weeks of intense, practical training, you will learn the basics of your chosen profession and will be ready to apply for jobs.

More and more people are choosing coding bootcamps as opposed to studying full-time at a university. This is because bootcamps represent a much smaller time and money investment and are, therefore, considered the smarter alternative. Compare the average cost of a bootcamp—$13,500—to what a university degree could potentially cost. Earning a degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), for example, costs between $60,000 and $70,000 per year, making the cost of a single semester a lot higher than that of an entire coding bootcamp.

Finally, many tech sector hopefuls choose to teach themselves. Depending on how disciplined and motivated you are, this could be the right option for you.

Seek Support

The journey is always easier with other like-minded people by your side. Fortunately, there are a few organizations and regular events to inspire young women to enter a career in tech and to support those who are already walking down that path.

Women in Technology (WIT) is an organization with one aim—advancing women in technology, from student to seasoned professional. To achieve its goal, WIT engages in leadership development, technology education, networking, and mentoring opportunities for women at all levels of their professional careers. The organization has over 1,000 members in the Washington, D.C./Maryland/Virginia metro region.

Similarly named, Women in Tech, is an international organization that aims to close the gender gap and help women embrace technology. The organization focuses on four primary areas: education, entrepreneurialism, social inclusion, and science and innovation. The aim is to educate, equip, and empower women and girls with the necessary skills and confidence to succeed in STEM career fields.

The Women Tech Global Conference​​​​​​ is a virtual conference connecting thousands of women, minorities and their allies in tech through an interactive platform featuring keynotes, engaging panels, technical workshops, and a tech job fair with face-to-face networking sessions.​​​​​​​

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