Discover the strategic, operations, and communications roles in technology and learn how to compete for them.
As the lines between the tech industry and every other industry become increasingly blurred, the call for talented coders has become widespread. Yet, for each programming job in tech there are plenty of other jobs prime for mid-career professionals ready for a change.
Most of these roles aren’t exclusive to the tech industry, though pay rates are often commensurate with tech-ability (along with other skills). The role of technology in many of the job descriptions is still evolving and varies widely by industry and individual organization. As a career, they tend to be touted less in the mainstream, primarily because they don’t align with clear-cut degree programs. Advancement to these roles is often earned through certifications and specialization, making them perfect for a second and or third career.
Here are 11 careers worth considering, roughly ordered from front-of-the-house to back-of-the-house and including everything in between. As you explore the list, you may be surprised to find that some of them are closer to your current skillset than you originally thought.
1. Business Analyst
Similar: Data Analyst; Management Analyst; Business Intelligence
The business analyst works with a variety of stakeholders within an organization to understand the goals and pathways to accomplishing them. They collaborate with IT and other diverse teams to accomplish the goals.
The context of this role within an organization can include overall business performance, business systems, functional/process assessment, service requests, agile (software), and a variety of other specializations.
This role may require a bachelor’s degree in business administration or related field but will often accept industry experience as an equivalent, depending on the organization.
- A History of the Business Analyst Role by the Knowledge Academy (UK)
- Becoming a Business Analyst by International Institute of
Business Analysis (Canada)
- New Horizons: Business Analysis Training Program, includes Online Live option
- Learning Tree: International Business Analysis Training Program, includes Live Online option
- Udemy: Fundamentals of Business Analysis
2. Tech Sales
Similar: Sales Lead; Sales Engineer
Tech has sales roles just like other industries. These folks serve as the liaison between the potential customer and engineering to determine the approach to the quote. Required experience and compensation will vary greatly by organization.
There aren’t well-established special training program for tech sales. Engineers with good communication and strategy skills occasionally move up into this role. Since commission is typically part of compensation package this role can be a low-risk way entry point for a career transition.
- The High Demand Tech Job No One Talks About by Ryan Holmes
- Interviewing for a job in tech sales? 4 things you need to know by Andy Stansell, Silicon Republic (Ireland)
- How a Role in Tech Sales Will Jumpstart Your Career by Gence Emek, MuleSoft (US)
3. Project Manager
Similar: Scrum Master; Project Coordinator; Project Director
This role can be as prolific as the range of projects that require their attention.
From planning to execution, PMs oversee internal and client facing projects, work to understand stakeholder expectations and estimate anticipated project cost and timeline. They are the essential project team communicator.
- Types of Project Managers by Jason Westland, ProjectManager.com (US)
- CAPM vs PMP vs Project+ for New Project Managers by CBT Nuggets
- 20 Online Training Resources for Project Managers by Emily Bonnie
- PMI: Online Training Courses
- CBT Nuggets: Project Management for the Real World Online Training Program
- Lynda.com: Project Management Online Training Tutorials
- Udemy: Project Management Online Courses
4. UI/UX Designer
Similar: Interaction Designer; Product Designer; User Interface (UI) Designer; UX Researcher
User experience design is a problem-solving skill that you may or may not realize you have been developing all of your life. It requires visual aesthetic as well as an understanding of human behavior.
In addition to UX design, some companies hire designers under other names, like User Interface Design or Graphic Designer. The primary distinction is that UX handles research and design surrounding user behavior.
“UX is not just about solving problems, UX is about spotting problems” — Sarah Doody
- How to get started with UX and what “UX” really means by Bill Tribble
- A guide to becoming a UX designer at age 40 by Guy Ligertwood, Invision (US)
- How to get started in UX design by UX Mastery
- Rosenfeld Media: Enterprise UX Conference
5. Product Owner
Similar: Product Manager; Product Lead
This role creates the priorities that drive product development based on feedback from analysts, testers, and users. They work directly with Business Analysts and UI/UX Designers to determine what will be developed next.
- Product Owners ask Why, Project Managers ask How by Lauren Jerome
- Free job search resources by Debsmita Biswas
- Articles, podcasts, courses, & resources by 100 Product Managers (US)
- Top 10 Podcasts for Product Managers by Alex Mitchell
- Mountain Goat Software: Certified Scrum Product Owner Training
6. Quality Assurance
Similar: Quality Control; Software Quality Tester
This role works on multiple levels to ensure that a quality product is shipped. In addition to manual testing methods, they often implement automated tests that can be run over and over again. They analyze the reports and look for anomalies, working with the Product Owner to address concerns.
- How to Become a Software QA Tester by Lina Danilchik, Forte Group (US)
- Microsoft Virtual Academy: Software Testing Fundamentals
- Udemy: Software Testing: Get a high paying Job In Technology
7. Digital Marketer
Similar: Social Media Manager; Marketing Automation
This role understands the product or service being developed and helps bring in more customers. They develop marketing channels through digital platforms like websites, social media, blogging, video content, and digital advertising.
- What is Digital Marketing? by Marketo (US)
- The Top 5 Free Online Courses for Digital Marketers by Larry Kim, Inc. (US)
- Lynda.com: Online Marketing Training and Tutorials
- Udemy: The Complete Digital Marketing Course
- Google: Digital Garage: Online Certification Program
- KnowledgeHut: Digital Marketing Online Training
8. Program Manager
Similar: Technical Program Manager (TPM)
This role supports the development and implementation of programs. These could be internal or customer-facing, or in some cases both. Organizations may choose to develop programs to fulfill their missions, develop culture and workforce talent, or raise awareness about new products and services.
- Program Manager, Different from Project Manager by
Michael Hanford, IBM (US)
- Technical Program Managers Innovate, Lead, and Solve Complex and Interdependent Technology Problems by Chris Upham, AIM Consulting (US)
- Salary of a Technical Program Manager by PayScale (US)
- What Do Facebook’s Technical Program Managers Do? by Jonathan Choi, Requests for Startups (US)
- Lynda.com: Become a Technical Program Manager
9. IT Support Specialist
Similar: Customer Service; Technical Support
When customers experience issues with a product, this role is their first line of defense. In addition to providing basic training support, they work with the product team to identify support trends and address issues.
- IT Support Analyst Job Description by TARGETjobs (UK)
- History of Customer Support by ZenDesk (US)
- How Can I Become an IT Support Specialist by Learn.org (US)
- Coursera: Google IT Support Professional Certificate
10. Technical Writer
Similar: Content Manager; Documentation Specialist
This role is typically found in organizations producing a lot of digital content, from large scale project requirements to courses, blogs, or e-books. Though it is largely similar to writing in other fields, the topics themselves tend to be technical in nature and require some basic understanding of the concepts.
- Technical Writing — What’s in a Name? by Society for Technical Communication (US)
- How to Become a Technical Writer: A Beginner’s Guide by Tom Dupuis, Instructional Solutions (US)
- List of Free Online Technical Writing Courses and Training Programs by Study.com
- Udemy: Professional Technical Writing: Advance Your Writing Skills
Similar: Systems Administrator; Continuous Improvement
The most technical role on the list, DevOps not only requires coding skills but also an understanding of the goals of the development and operations teams.
This next-level strategic role is essential to increasing productivity of the software team and addressing risk through automation, yet even this role lacks clear and easily transferable training options. DevOps candidates often learn their skills through apprenticeship programs as well as mentorship and self-study.
- What is DevOps? by Amazon (US)
- A better name for DevOps: ‘continuous improvement’ by Joe McKendrick, ZDNet (US)
- CBT Nuggets: DevOps Training
- Microsoft Virtual Academy: DevOps Courses
If you’re concerned that you are unqualified, you are not alone. The fast-paced evolution of job skills is requiring more discussions about #newcollarjobs, feeling #unqualifiedfortech, and how to deal with #impostersyndrome, in an attempt to encourage more people to overcome barriers to a career change.
Having a college degree is generally regarded as a must to score a job in tech, but this story from @CNBC shows how IBM wants to hire employees who don’t have traditional backgrounds! #NewCollarJobs https://t.co/bb8q1fPRTT
— IBM NA Careers (@IBMNAjobs) November 15, 2017
— bletchley punk (@alicegoldfuss) September 17, 2017
— The Muse (@TheMuse) June 6, 2017
Dedicate Time to Learning
In today’s workforce, everyone’s career path looks a little bit different, and cognitive flexibility is a highly sought-after skill. The truth is that most of these job descriptions are changing as fast or faster than the training programs that support them.
If you are ready for a new career challenge, take a deeper dive into the field(s) in technology that compliment your personality and your financial goals. Read job descriptions, watch videos about it, and try out an online training course. There are plenty of opportunities to develop a meaningful career and make a living while you do it.
Many communities have non-profit organizations that work with people seeking technical jobs or transitioning careers. In Eugene, organizations like Lane Community College, Worksource Lane, Elevate Lane County, and Apprenti Careers provide support and training solutions for the local workforce. If you aren’t sure who is serving your area, search for your local workforce expert and ask them for more information.
Don’t Hesitate to Ask for Help
Look for trusted mentors who have achieved some of your career goals to help you along the way, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. A quick phone call or text message can be a great lifeline before the next big career interview.
Good luck! We’d love to hear your success story.
*The courses and training links above have not been rated for value or quality. Please consider them suggestions, not recommendations. Feel free to share your favorite training courses and conferences in the comments.