Careers in Tech

Think you need a college degree to get a tech job? Read this.

February 18, 2022
An image of a graduation certificate cover

It used to be commonly accepted advice that to get a great job—stability, benefits, salary—you needed a college degree. But is that true? Do you need a college diploma to have a good career, especially a tech job?

That “wisdom” is worth questioning, especially since so much has changed in the last few years. 

“There’s a lot of skepticism about the old pressure to get a college degree—for good reason,” explains Austen Allred, CEO and co-founder of BloomTech (FKA Lambda School). “People are questioning if going to college or a university is the only or best path to getting a rewarding job, in tech or otherwise.”

Austen knows from firsthand experience. He dropped out of college because he didn’t feel as though he was learning the skills that would lead to the kind of job he wanted. He went on to co-found a media platform, write the bestselling book Secret Sauce, and then co-found and lead BloomTech—all without a college degree. 

So before you apply to college because that’s what it seems you “should” do—consider if it’s truly the best route to reach your goals. 

You don’t need a college degree to get a tech job

If you’re trying to break into the tech or IT industry and don’t have a college degree, you’re in good company. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that half of computer programmers do not have a bachelor’s degree. Numbers are even lower for other tech jobs. For example, two-thirds of IT professionals in user support do not have a four-year degree. 

BloomTech’s learners mirror this trend. More than half of BloomTech learners in 2020 hadn’t earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. This suggests that traditional higher education is not a must-have requirement for working in technology. 

(Some tech jobs do require a bachelor’s or higher degree. While advanced, specialized, and management roles may require a college, master’s, or even doctorate degree, many more do not. This is especially true with entry-level tech jobs.)

BloomTech also co-creates programs and curriculum with employers specifically so aspiring tech professionals don’t have to spend years (plus tons of tuition) on a college degree.

For instance, in September 2021 BloomTech launched the Backend Development program, jointly developed with Amazon. The Backend Development course, which drew inspiration from Amazon’s skilling program, trains learners in the skills needed for entry-level engineering roles across the tech sector. (The course doesn’t guarantee employment at Amazon after graduation.) 

The nine-month Backend Development course teaches the skills needed for tech jobs in much less time than it takes to complete a college degree.

Do tech companies want employees to have a college degree?

Some people think that employers want their employees to have a college degree—but that’s simply not true in all cases. 

Just look at some of the world’s most successful companies, which do not require a 4-year degree for many tech jobs. Google, Amazon, Tesla, and Apple, among many others, have done away with old requirements for college diplomas for many jobs. 

They’re far from the only ones. 

In fact, 3 out of 4 HR professionals want to see further loosening of degree requirements, according to a survey conducted by the nonprofit Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). 

This makes good business sense because college degrees don’t necessarily translate into the skills required to thrive in a tech job. 

Aspiring engineers, software developers, data scientists, and others are paying attention. They’re looking to learn the skills needed for a tech job—but not necessarily in a college classroom.

Can you learn tech skills without going to college?

Absolutely: You can gain the tech skills needed to work in the field without earning a college degree. That’s great news for the many people who can’t or don’t want to invest two to four years in traditional higher education. 

The realities of earning a college degree might send up a red flag for you, too. Consider these important factors when deciding to attend college, a coding bootcamp, or an alternative tech education like BloomTech. 

  • A bachelor’s degree requires a substantial time commitment. Waiting four years (or more) to earn a degree—and in theory be ready to begin a career—is too long for many people.
  • Attending higher education doesn’t always result in earning a degree on time. Less than half of students working toward a bachelor’s degree in the U.S. graduate within four years, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
  • A bachelor’s degree also requires a hefty financial investment. The average cost of in-state tuition only for a public university over four years is more than $37,000, according to the Education Data Initiative. (That figure does not include other expenses such as fees, books, and materials, which pushes the total cost of college much, much higher.) Average tuition for a private university over four years is more than $143,000. 

It makes sense to weigh if a four-year degree is the best way for you to gain the technical and professional skills needed to begin a career in tech.

Online coding school: An alternative to higher education

Before you apply to college, consider the skills you need for the job you want. You can do this by researching the required skills on entry-level jobs in engineering, data science, or the field you’re interested in. 

Then ask, how can you gain those skills? 

If you want to break into the tech field via a job like web developer or data scientist, an online coding school like BloomTech could be a more affordable, direct, and reliable route to reach your goals. 

BloomTech is fundamentally different from higher education and traditional bootcamps. BloomTech offers a direct, lower-risk path to your #1 goal: getting a rewarding job. 

Also, we’ve never heard of a four-year college program that guarantees a job after graduation or your money back. We do. BloomTech offers the industry’s only 100% Tuition Refund Guarantee: For eligible graduates who don’t get a job paying at least $50,000 a year within 365 days, we’ll refund you 100% of your tuition.

We’re not the only ones who recommend alternative tech education; leaders in some of the world’s most successful tech companies are calling for wider access to high quality, skills-focused tech training.

“We need new, accessible job-training solutions—from enhanced vocational programs to online education—to help America recover and rebuild,” wrote Kent Walker, SVP of Global Affairs for Google, in a blog post

BloomTech fits this bill. It can help America rebuild and provide individuals a path toward a better job and higher income. 

BloomTech offerings—which include thorough instruction on the most up-to-date tech topics, an engaged community, and career support—are designed so learners graduate with the skills employers want. Curriculum is written with hiring managers’ needs in mind. That way BloomTech matches education to what learners want and need: the skills to thrive in a tech career. 

Employers partner with BloomTech for access to top talent

BloomTech prepares motivated learners to enter the job market in as little as six to nine months. (Learners with no or minimal technical experience may need to complete pre-coursework to prepare for BloomTech’s rigorous programs.) This timeline of developing tech talent is more thorough than typical bootcamps and significantly faster than the four or five years to earn a university degree.

Companies that hire BloomTech graduates certainly notice that BloomTechies are trained in precisely the skills they need.

“Colleges teach computer science, not software engineering. Unless you're looking to hire researchers, employers are much better off hiring outside of colleges,” says Ish Baid, founder and CEO of the online event automation startup Virtually. “The ROI is much higher. Especially for startups.Take it from me: 60% of our engineering team came from BloomTech.”

Getting future data scientists, engineers, and developers up to speed in less time is a great benefit to employers, too. The network of hiring managers that BloomTech works with can tap the school’s ready-to-work graduates to fill hiring gaps—quickly. 

That’s just one way that BloomTech helps people kickstart their careers in tech—without needing a college degree. Some BloomTech learners even get job offers before graduating.

“I was drawn to BloomTech because I recognized the value of having access to their hiring partners,” says Sharon Moran, who is now working as a data scientist. “My choice proved right. I had a job offer 9 days after finishing Labs!”

Are you ready to start down a direct, reliable path toward a tech career? Apply to BloomTech today!