The days of needing a degree to make a decent salary in tech are coming to an end. Modern employers are often more interested in the skills and experience someone has than the school they graduated from. In other words, you can launch your career in development after taking a couple of online programming courses.
But how do you know which path to take? Which programming languages do you need to learn? To help you figure it out, we’ll explore six high-paying jobs you can get without a degree, what each job entails, and the skills you need to get started.
1. Front-End Web Developer
Even though a Front-End Developer may not use the languages involved in back-end programming, they still need to understand the capabilities of back-end structures and the essentials of how their technologies work. On average, Front-End Developers can expect an annual salary of $112,550 in the U.S. You can get started learning all the technical skills you need to pursue this career in our Front-End Engineer path.
2. Back-End Web Developer
A Back-End Web Developer uses tools like SQL and Node.js to design and implement the systems and resources that support the front end of an application. While much of their work may go “unseen,” effective back-end development is crucial to an optimal user experience.
Back-End Developers work on systems that enable parsing, scraping, processing, visualizing, and analyzing data. They also develop the databases that store an application’s information. In the U.S., the average salary for an experienced Back-End Developer is $160,139.
3. Full-Stack Web Developer
A Full-Stack Web Developer takes care of all elements of the development process. They have to be well-versed in both front-end and back-end development principles and tools. Clients or companies may call on Full-Stack Developers to design apps from scratch, either with the help of a team or on their own. Or, they may be asked to troubleshoot or improve an existing application.
At times, Full-Stack Developers help address vulnerabilities in web apps after a Cybersecurity Specialist discovers an issue. Like Front-End and Back-End Developers, experienced Full-Stack Developers can expect a six-figure salary, with an average of $128,023 in the U.S.
4. IT Manager
An IT Manager earns about $94,886 per year in the U.S. and performs various tasks, all of which involve ensuring the IT team accomplishes the organization’s goals. An IT Manager may report to the CIO of a company, and, as a result, they need to be able to keep high-level concepts clearly in mind as they manage their teams.
To fulfill their responsibilities, an IT Manager needs a solid background in the technologies and tools that drive the IT process. This allows them to develop actionable solutions to any issues that may come up.
5. Software Engineer
A Software Engineer makes around $117,840 a year in the U.S. and develops, builds, implements, and maintains software solutions for organizations. Unlike Web Developers, they’re often involved in the first phases of an application’s ideation, connecting the technologies available to the problems they have to solve. As a result, a Software Engineer has to be comfortable interacting with management and other executives and working with a team in the development process.
Along with conceiving and managing projects, a Software Engineer has to code solutions, ensuring they contribute to the project’s objectives or the organization’s goals. This requires knowledge of multiple coding languages and testing.
6. Cybersecurity Specialist
In the U.S., a Cybersecurity Specialist earns around $111,678 a year. They’re in charge of ensuring the safety of a company’s digital assets, including everything connected to its network, both on-premises and remotely.
A Cybersecurity Specialist needs to use multiple tools designed to bolster an organization’s defenses. Some of these tools include firewalls and anti-malware software. You can learn the basics in our course Introduction to Cybersecurity.
Firewalls inspect the data coming into and flowing out of a network or device to see if it contains threats. Anti-malware software can detect and discard data packets and files that have malware. Along with the other tools in a Cybersecurity Specialist’s toolkit, firewalls and anti-malware help Cybersecurity Specialist’s keep their digital assets secure.
While a college degree can be helpful, finding high-paying jobs without a degree is no longer as hard as it once was. In any of the positions above, you can expect a decent income and exciting challenges.
If you find yourself drawn to web development after reading this article, check out our career paths. Each path is designed to teach you the skills and knowledge you’ll need to land an entry-level position. We’ll even guide you through your job search by helping you build a portfolio, providing a certificate you can feature in your resume, and sharing tips for your future interviews.
But what if you’d rather be an IT Manager or Computer Software Engineer? Both roles require a solid understanding of programming, so our Computer Science path might be right for you. We’ll teach you the fundamental concepts of programming, and you’ll also learn how to use Python — one of the most popular and versatile programming languages.
Lastly, if you love the idea of helping people and businesses protect their data, learn more about the field with our introduction to cybersecurity course.
This blog was originally published in July 2021 and has been updated to include the most recent salary data.