Updated: April 4, 2023 - 9 min read
So you’re a technology lover. Every time you get a new gadget you slowly peel off that thin plastic wrap with absolute glee. You find yourself browsing TechCrunch and keeping up with all the goings on in Silicon Valley. You absolutely binged Silicon Valley, the hit TV show. You might even have a copy of that iconic Steve Jobs biography. You have some very strong opinions about whether Android or iPhone is superior, and you can cite the specs to back you up.
You want to do what you love for a living, and you’ve started thinking about working in the tech industry. But you didn’t take Computer Science in college, and you have no idea how to code.
Does this sound familiar?
While it might not be your situation entirely, there are many who feel discouraged from pursuing a career in tech because there seems to be a shroud of mystery over what really goes on behind the doors of Google and Apple.
Here, we’d like to address some of the myths about working in tech, and separate the facts from fiction. You’ll also get our expert recommendations on three of the best jobs in tech that you may never have considered before.
Facts About Being Non-Tech in Tech
1. Not everyone in tech can code
Here we’re using ‘code’ as shorthand for ‘things that technical people do.’ While technical jobs (web designers, software engineers, etc) really are the life’s blood of the industry, the technology world is huge and needs a whole host of other jobs.
Think about a huge product, like Spotify, for example. Of course, you need the tech and product teams to build the actual platform so that you can play music. But behind the scenes are a whole bunch of people working hard to make your experience of the product as good as it can be. There are PR and Marketing people and Growth Hackers who made sure you heard about Spotify in the first place. There are Customer Service people who help you out when something is stopping you from enjoying the product. There are Graphic, Visual, UX, and UI designers who make the experience something beautiful.
Then think about all the people who help those people. There are the Product Managers who keep things running smoothly and provide support to the teams, (plus a whole lot more!) There are Product and Marketing Operations people who ensure that the right tools and processes are in place. There are Business Analysts who help guide the whole organization.
So as you can see, only a small portion of the people who work in tech could be considered ‘techies.’ What unites everyone in a tech company isn’t the skillset, it’s the passion for their mission and the products they’re delivering together.
2. It’s easier to pick up tech skills than you think
Perhaps it used to be the case that the degree subject you chose when you were 18 years old dictates the trajectory of your career forever, but that’s not so much the case anymore. With a variety of great courses to teach you the necessary skills (coding, data, machine learning, AI, etc) there’s no need to head back to college.
The outside view of tech is that it’s incredibly complicated, and that those who work with code and programming languages and algorithms must be extremely talented, or must have had a fascination with computers from birth.
While it’s true that many who work in tech are extremely talented, their skills are nothing that can’t be taught. If you have the hunger to learn and the guts to go for what you want, you can pick up the skills you need to feel comfortable applying for roles in the industry.
3. You don’t have to be young to work in tech.
You might be mid-career in something completely non-tech related, and when you see the promotional material for the next upcoming startup, all you see are young people in their mid-twenties enjoying after work beers together.
It’s a little disheartening to see, but don’t let the optics fool you. Yes, there is a tendency to hire younger people in tech startups, which is a bid to preserve the company culture.
But tech jobs, like product management, are open to everyone. If you look at some major product leaders, you’ll find that many of them had long careers in things like marketing and business consultancy, before moving into product when they were well into their careers. It’s never too late to transition to something you love.
Check out: Is Product Management For You?
The 3 Best Jobs in Tech for Non-Techies
For the Creatives: UX Designer
What happens when you type anything into a search engine? What goes on behind the scenes is incredibly complex, always changing, and is also a closely guarded secret. For anyone not in tech, the mind simply boggles at what could possibly be happening in order for our computers to provide us with 5 million results for ‘cupcake recipe’ in less than 3 seconds.
What happens behind the scenes may be mind boggling…but the user experience is incredibly simple. The average search engine provides you with a service that gets you from point A to point B very quickly and with very little interruption to your day. It feels like such a natural process that you barely even notice it’s happening.
That’s great UX Design.
You might also be interested in: Design Thinking: 3 Lessons from Apple and Google
UX Designers know how people like to use products, and conduct rigorous research to make sure their designs fit what users want. They work closely with developers, who are the ones who actually build the thing, and collaborate with Product Managers to ensure everything is delivered on time and to the user requirements.
UX Designers describe their job as a mix of art and science, and is the perfect job for those who love the idea of building products, without having to do the actual building.
For the Business-Minded: Analyst
Tech businesses are still businesses. While they’re building the products used by millions, they also need to ensure that they’re functioning well as a company. They need Business Analysts to help translate business needs to tech teams, and tech problems to business leaders. They’re the middle people between the tech world and the business world, with one foot in both.
It’s a great job if you have a background in subjects finance, economics, or statistics. Business Analysts don’t need to have a CS degree, as a rudimentary understanding of the tech their company is working with is more than enough. If you’ve been a Business Analyst, or similar role, for another company then many businesses will be happy to take you on based on your skill set. Tech knowledge can always be taught, as the technology used is often unique to the teams building it.
You’d make a great Business Analyst if you’re adaptable, a great problem solver, detail oriented, and a desire to solve complex business problems.
For Everyone In Between: Product Manager
We’ve saved the best till last, though we are admittedly quite biased!
Product Management is the perfect job for business-minded, creative tech lovers. People come from all backgrounds to product management, and many find themselves already doing it before they even know what it is!
The easiest way to explain a Product Manager, is as a conductor of an orchestra. The conductor doesn’t need to know how to play the tuba, the guitar, the piano and the saxophone to do their job. They just need to be able to guide and direct the musicians, to bring the melody to life.
Product Managers have a hand on all the gears involved in product development. They work with data analysts to understand the numbers behind the product. They turn insights into requirements, working to prioritize features and make sure the engineers are building the right things. They work with designers to ensure that the product looks and feels great. They work with marketing to seek growth opportunities.
And that’s all just before product launch!
Once the product is in the hands of the people, Product Managers sift through the feedback to work out what can be improved, what features can be added next, and how the product can grow. They own the vision for the product, and want to take it from zero to one hundred.
If you need help to get there, whether you’re ready to dive in right now, or just want to keep exploring, we’ve got just what you need.
You might also be interested in: Product Management Myths…Busted!
What Skills You Need For Product Management
We’ve spoken at length about the tech skills needed by Product Managers right here. But the short version is: you don’t need coding skills for product management. They help, but they’re not necessary.
When we ask top product leaders what they look for in potential new hires, very few of them cite coding skills as a pre-requisite unless they’re hiring for places like Google and Apple. Some Product Managers are more technical than others, which will impact your job search.
The perfect Product Manager is a real team player, with great leadership skills, an ability to dive into data, problem-solving skills, and a great love for the products they build.
If you’re starting to feel curious about a career in product, here’s everything you need to start learning more:
Work out the skills you need, how to make the transition from your current role, and what kinds of PM roles are out there:
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Updated: April 4, 2023