So, you want to get into tech but don’t know where to start? Well, here’s my attempt at a one-stop-shop for newcomers, returners, career switchers alike! The tech sector is growing and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, working in tech is fun, rewarding, exciting and fast-paced & the benefits include remote working (even before the pandemic), flexible hours in the majority of the companies & finally not to mention very well paid!
One of the hardest decisions is what career path to go down in tech since it's so vast. There are so many jobs out there like Front End, Back End, Mobile, Full Stack Engineer/Developer, Pen Tester, Cyber Security, Data Scientist and the list goes on.
If you're looking at non-coding jobs within the tech sector you're covered too! With jobs like Business Analyst, Product Manager, User Experience Designer and more. The notion of "you have to be good with computers to work in tech" is so outdated and not true for non-coding specific jobs.
During my time at university studying Software Engineering I was toeing the line between going for a developer, more coding focussed role or going towards a more business side, less technical role. So don't worry if it takes some time to really know what you're interested in! It takes time & research into all areas of technology, I would highly recommend initially starting on YouTube and searching around regarding tech in general to find out what draws you in more.
In this blog post, I'll address the coding jobs a little more & give some insight/tips on what I would learn if I had to start again to get a good grounding. You may not enjoy coding, but what I will lay out in this post is all free content that anyone can access and learn whenever it suits you best.
As I mentioned above, initially I would look to YouTube for general and even random knowledge about tech and the tech industry. This is key for increasing your knowledge and interest but also expanding your thoughts about what tech is, what industries it touches (you'd be surprised) and what you could potentially do with tech. Some personal recommendations on YouTubers I watch:
- Forrest Knight, for general computer science/software engineering knowledge.
- Andy Sterkowicz, a self-taught programmer himself who has very helpful videos regarding coding and becoming self-taught.
- Joma Tech, makes funny skits about tech and coding in general.
- Amigoscode, useful tips on what life is really like as a software engineer & various free tutorials & courses on programming.
The list is endless, start with these recommendations if you don't know where to begin and let the YouTube algorithm take over and suggest videos.
So, you've looked around on YouTube & you're still interested in a career in tech, maybe even more interested than you were previously. I hear you asking, what's next? That's a great question.
I think a basic description of the two main types of developers/engineers is important to bring up now, front end developers and back end developers. I will be massively oversimplifying it, but that's all we need to know for this post.
Front end developers are primarily responsible for everything you see on a web page/app. So the images, buttons, the fancy animations when you click on something, etc, is all the work of a front end developer. The average base salary of a Front End Developer in the United Kingdom is around £51,926 and the average for a Junior Front End Developer is £27,216, according to indeed.com.
Back end developers are primarily responsible for everything you can't see, but without it the app/web page wouldn't work. I like to think of it as the wiring behind the scenes to make the actions you do on a website/app work. One example of this is searching through Amazon for products, a back end developer would handle the work to make sure the right products come back for the term you searched for and you don't get results for "Wine and Cheese" when you search for "Work Party Items". The average base salary of a Back End Developer in the United Kingdom is around £58,218 and the average for a Junior Back End Developer is £30,388, according to indeed.com.
A fullstack developer is essentially both of those developers in one, a jack of all trades or you could call them a whole dev team in one person… Due to pretty much being able to do all and any development work required they're usually paid the highest. Fullstack developers usually dabble in DevOps work too.
Okay, bad political jokes aside, let's get into what we need to learn to get a good grounding for technical developer roles. If I was to start learning tech from scratch again, I would aim to learn how to become a fullstack developer. Just learning front end development will mean your app/website will look nice but not have much functionality & just learning back end development will mean your app/website will have loads of functionality but look quite bare. I chose this specific path due to the flexibility of being able to adapt to any task needed, also knowing the full lifecycle of developing something from start to finish & having the knowledge to do it all.
As someone new to tech, I would recommend starting with front end development initially. Specifically, web development and the reason for this is because it will help someone new to tech understand the process of software development and also to see code being turned into something visual. This helps a lot as you can see your code turning into titles, images, fancy transition effects and more as you're typing.
The resources I'd use for this are as follows, feel free to do any or all the things listed but they are generally in order & I would advise you read through them all before picking them up:
Google. Google will literally be your best friend, for anything you're stuck with & can't solve, any errors that might pop up, everything is a Google away. Even the most senior developers use Google on a daily basis so don't be shy!
Codecademy's HTML & CSS course. There is nothing to set up here as you will type code into your web browser & don't worry about the certificate which is only available with a subscription, we're here to learn as much as we can for free to start off with.
At any time, feel free to YouTube tutorials such as "how to make a website" or even "beginner website ideas".
Add to your online portfolio! Like designers, photographers or any other creative field - you are also creating things, just with code. You should use GitHub as it's the industry standard as a portfolio and code sharing platform, here is a very short introduction video to watch. Feel free to watch more videos if you want or need more information on this topic! This is a great way to showcase your work, upload your projects, websites and training notes onto so that potential employers to see the work you've done so far on your tech journey when you come to apply for jobs! Follow along with some tutorials and then try to make a couple of your own websites to add to your GitHub.
Once you've gone through all this post with the recommended learning & resources, you're well underway on your journey to a career in tech! By this point, you should have more of an idea on what you want to continue learning, what interests you in particular & if not, everything is a google or YouTube search away!
In future blog posts, I will go into other types of roles in development, including non-technical ones with as much as I can comment on them as well as how to apply to a job in tech.