Why You Don’t Have To Work “In Tech” To Have a Technical Career

Why You Don’t Have To Work “In Tech” To Have a Technical Career

5 minutes

If you have your sights set on working in tech, it’s easy to get tunnel vision and fixate on landing a role at one of the big tech companies like Meta, Google, or Amazon. And why wouldn’t you? Engineers at these iconic brands pioneered some of the most cutting-edge technology of our time, and basically invented the “tech worker” archetype — ping-pong tables, hoodies, and all. 

The tech industry has gone through some significant changes recently, and even the most prestigious tech organizations experienced mass layoffs and implemented hiring freezes. As an aspiring programmer or career switcher, you might be disheartened by news surrounding the tech industry. But here’s the thing to keep in mind: There are plenty of other ways that you can have a rewarding technical career without working directly in tech. 

Right now, lots of established or mainstream industries like healthcare, finance, and retail are eager to hire tech professionals to help modernize their businesses — and you could have the experience and skill set to step into a position and thrive. Here are a few reasons why you don’t have to work “in tech” to have a meaningful technical career, and how to find job opportunities outside of the traditional tech sphere. 

Every industry needs tech workers

In today’s digital world, practically every industry has a technical component to it — from education to healthcare, and even the performing arts. That’s good news for technologists and programmers, because it means your technical skills are in demand across a diverse array of industries.

“There is still strong demand for tech talent in a wide range of industries, from government to retail to agriculture,” Julia Pollak, chief economist with ZipRecruiter, told Wired. “Those industries for the past years have been left in the dust.”

Find a plan that fits your goals

In fact, the industries that hired the most tech talent in 2022 are not what you’d consider “traditional” tech sectors. Employers in healthcare, aerospace, finance, and consulting, hired large amounts of tech professionals last year, according to data from the Dice Tech Job Report

Other data suggests that companies outside the tech sector will continue to seek out technologists and programmers. For example, in CompTIA’s January 2023 Tech Jobs Report, the top companies with tech job postings were in banking, aerospace, finance, and healthcare. 

And for the record, getting a job in another industry besides tech doesn’t necessarily mean earning less money. Some of the highest-paying industries for IT professionals, for example, are outside of traditional tech, according to the 2022 Skillsoft IT Skills and Salary survey

You can make an impact anywhere

Some people thrive working at large companies, while others prefer close-knit work environments, says Erica Rivera, a career coach and tech recruiter at Google who recruits software engineers, application engineers, program managers, and technical program managers. “Many people have this false idea that you have to strive to work at one of these big companies and that’s not the case,” she says.

In fact, there are perks to being a “big fish” in a “little pond,” or in this case, having a technical job at a small or mid-sized company, or an organization that’s not solely focused on tech. At a smaller organization, you might have more flexibility to learn and train on the job, which is useful for career switchers, Erica says. “If you’re looking to make a change and pivot careers, say you’re coming from a background where you’ve never been in tech before, it may be that stepping stone for you,” she says. Plus, you might be given more responsibilities and get to have your hand in more projects than if you were part of a larger tech team. 

You can do something you’re passionate about

Ultimately, you have to think about the factors that are important to you when it comes to your career, Erica says. “Is it compensation? Is it career growth and progression? Is it the company culture and environment? That should be your North Star guiding you as to what type of companies you want to look for,” she says. 

For example, when Julien Whitney was working as a full-time software engineer at Reddit, he considered switching careers entirely because he wanted to do something more meaningful. “I didn’t think that I could be an engineer and do something positive for society,” he says. Then, Julien found out that The Trevor Project, a crisis network for LGBTQ+ youth, employed software engineers, and he was surprised and intrigued by the prospect of working for a nonprofit with a mission he believed in.

Julien got a job as a software engineer at The Trevor Project, and says he’s happier knowing that his work and code improves people’s lives. “Although it’s tempting with all the recruiter emails to go work as a software engineer at FAANG [Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google] or the big companies that pay a lot, the drive and passion you have for your work exists when you work for a company where you agree with their morals and their passions,” he says.

Take the next step towards a rewarding tech career

The bottom line: Technical skills are transferable skills, period. Knowing how to code and think like a programmer doesn’t limit you to one field or line of work, it unlocks unique opportunities for professional and personal growth. No matter where your tech career takes you, Codecademy has the tools you need to get there.

You can start learning the in-demand technical skills that will help future-proof your career by signing up for Codecademy now. We have plans for every type of goal — whether you want to switch industries, upskill in your current tech job, or just learn something new for fun. Check out our full course catalog to find the subjects and languages that inspire you. 

If you’re hoping to get a technical job (within tech or any industry), consider signing up for Codecademy Pro. With Pro, you get access to top-notch job search resources, like Codecademy’s professional certifications, skill assessments, networking opportunities, and personalized job postings.

Related courses

3 courses

Related articles

7 articles