Earn While You Learn: 5 Tech Jobs for New Coders
- What You’ll Learn
- Easiest Tech Jobs to Get Without Coding Experience
- 1. Data Analyst
- Tools Used by Data Analysts
- How Working as a Data Analyst Makes You a Better Developer
- Characteristics of a Data Analyst
- 2. IT Technician
- Tools Used by IT Technicians
- How Working as an IT Technician Makes You a Better Developer
- Characteristics of an IT Technician
- 3. Technical Writer
- Tools Used by Tech Writers
- How Working as a Technical Writer Helps You Improve as a Developer
- Characteristics of a Technical Writer
- 4. User Experience (UX) Tester
- Tools Used by User Experience Testers
- How Being a User Experience Tester Helps You Improve as a Developer
- Characteristics of a User Experience Tester
- 5. Quality Assurance (QA) Tester
- Tools Used by Quality Assurance Testers
- How Being a Quality Assurance Tester Helps You Gain Skills as a Developer
- Characteristics of a Quality Assurance Tester
- Key Takeaways
- More Tips to Improve Your Job Search Skills
- About the Author
Still learning to code but need a job now? Here are five tech roles you can apply for today and build your dev skills while earning a living.
If you’ve taken on the challenge to become a professional software developer, you know how difficult and time-consuming this path is. The rewards and opportunities are innumerable but, in the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “Nothing worth having comes easy”.
What do you do if you need to make money right now, before you have enough skills to ace a coding interview? Consider applying to one of the five programming-adjacent jobs detailed here, each of which you can land now while you continue to learn.
What You’ll Learn
- Which tech positions you can apply for now, before you’re a fully-fledged software developer.
- What characteristics make you the right fit for each job.
- Which tools you’ll use on the job and how they’ll help your future career.
- How to tailor your application for each role.
Easiest Tech Jobs to Get Without Coding Experience
Not every career in technology needs coding experience. Even if your end goal is to be a developer eventually, these jobs can give you valuable experience that will help you stand out from other hopeful junior devs, while bringing in money to live on as you hone your skills. Here are some of the easiest tech jobs to target while you learn to code.
1. Data Analyst
A data analyst extrapolates meaningful patterns, correlations and insights from large sets of data. Modern organizations collect an astounding amount of data, and that data is often too complex to analyze without expert help.
Just about every industry needs to make data-driven business decisions, and that need is growing, so data analysts are in huge demand. Organizations use data analysts’ discoveries to make better decisions about business processes.
Tools Used by Data Analysts
Data analysis tools range from simple ones that you probably already use to more complicated, industry-specific aids. Some tools data analysts should be familiar with are:
- Microsoft Excel/Google Sheets: These common spreadsheet programs are widely available. Both offer quick analysis features that provide an overview of your data and help you visualize it.
- Structured Query Language (SQL): SQL lets you access data stored in databases and manipulate it with common operations. If you can code even a little, SQL is easy to pick up. Despite its simplicity, SQL is a powerful tool for querying datasets based on chosen parameters.
- Tableau: This popular tool allows you to analyze and visualize data easily. It includes the capability to drag and drop, and to share your data as workbooks and dashboards. Plus, it’s user-friendly.
- R or Python: Both R and Python are free, open-source languages that run on macOS, Windows and Linux. They’re easy to learn and extremely helpful in accomplishing routine data analysis tasks. Python is a broader, more high-level language, while R is specifically designed for statistical analysis and data visualization.
- Microsoft Power BI: A leader in the field, Power BI is a user-friendly business intelligence tool that allows you to create reports, dashboards and interactive visualizations with a simple-to-learn interface.
Being a data analyst is a challenging and exciting way to enter the tech industry as you build your developer skills. Many of these skills apply to learning to code as well.
How Working as a Data Analyst Makes You a Better Developer
The skills you’ve learned while becoming a developer will prove very helpful for working as a data analyst.
In your new role, you’ll gain valuable insights into one of the key aspects of software, data collection. This will help you improve the software you create by gathering and making meaning out of data. This background will help you make better design decisions as a developer.
Analyzing data sets also challenges your math skills, keeping them fresh and ready to apply in the future programs you create.
Characteristics of a Data Analyst
Data analysis is a good position if you have a passion for math and enjoy solving problems. Critical thinking and a detail-oriented nature will also give you an edge. Proficiency in any coding language is also an important skill to have.
2. IT Technician
Working as an IT technician or IT support specialist is a wonderful way to start your career in tech, providing experience and networking that will prove helpful in your future career.
An IT technician manages hardware and software installation, supports users and fixes problems. You’ll get to know many people in the organization — and you’ll be the friendly face who helps them when they’re struggling with their hardware or software.
Tools Used by IT Technicians
- Ticketing Software: Help desk ticketing software keeps track of issues as they arise. Some common examples include Help Scout and Zoho Desk.
- Remote Support Software: An IT technician commonly uses remote access software such as TeamViewer to provide support to remote employees or when away from the office.
- General Networking Tools: Often, an IT technician will need to troubleshoot the network. This requires tools such as Speedtest and a Telnet client like Putty. There are also handy open source apps like Angry IP Scanner.
- Virus Scan Software: A myriad of virus-scanning software exists to help keep the network safe. A common example is Avast.
- Desktop Imaging Software: Desktop imaging software helps IT technicians by letting them quickly deploy a base image of a machine to multiple computers. Some of these packages include the capability to install software through the network and control security. An increasingly popular example is Endpoint Central.
- Physical Tools: As an IT technician, you’ll find you get to carry all sorts of fun tools, from cable strippers and voltage testers to screwdrivers. Don’t forget your Leatherman!
How Working as an IT Technician Makes You a Better Developer
Landing a job as an IT technician is a great step in your tech career. You’ll be able to practice your developer skills by writing scripts and challenging your problem-solving skills in new ways.
This is a wonderful position to build your network because you’ll be helping many people organization-wide with their issues. You’ll learn to build better software and provide a better end-user experience because you’ll understand the day-to-day problems that users encounter.
You’ll also have the opportunity to build your soft skills, giving you an edge in that future job interview to be a developer.
Characteristics of an IT Technician
IT technicians acquire a diverse set of skills. If you love problem-solving and troubleshooting, becoming an IT Technician is a great fit. If you’re the type of person who likes being on call and saving the day, you’ll have many opportunities to have an impact on your organization. This position is also physically active, so if you like to be on the go, this may be a tech job to consider while learning to code.
3. Technical Writer
Technical writer is another excellent job that you can use as a stepping stone toward your dev career.
Technical writers create supporting documentation for software and products, and may even write guides and documentation for developers to use as they code. There are tech writing opportunities in the academic sphere as well as in the public sector.
This is a position with a healthy growth rate that spans many industries, including computing, giving you flexibility in how and where you work.
Tools Used by Tech Writers
- Word Processing Tools: There are many tools available for technical writing. Some common examples include Microsoft Word, WordPress, Sublime and even simple editors like Visual Studio Code or Notepad++.
- Grammar Checker: Editors usually include spelling and grammar tools. For even more help, check out web-based tools like Grammarly and Hemingway.
- Diagramming Tools: It’s common to illustrate technical writing with diagrams. Tech writers use products like Sketch, Diagrams.app and Microsoft Visio to create visualizations of concepts. You can also use a wireframing tool like Balsamiq Wireframes to create mockups of apps and designs.
- Presentation Software: An easy way to share images in a slideshow format is to use presentation software. Some popular examples include Google Slides, Microsoft PowerPoint and Apple Keynote.
How Working as a Technical Writer Helps You Improve as a Developer
Being a tech writer has several advantages when building a dev career. For example, if what you write gets published in the public domain, you can gain exposure in the tech sphere.
Plus, you’ll learn useful skills. Breaking things down into steps and creating instructions will grow your understanding of processes and build your problem-solving skills. Learning to illustrate a concept also builds your understanding of the audience’s perspective.
Finally, you’ll have the chance to dive deep into interesting topics that could help your development journey. Writing about technical subjects helps you learn about those topics in greater depth.
Characteristics of a Technical Writer
Technical writers draw on many skills. Writing and grammar knowledge and critical thinking skills are imperative. This position will also challenge your problem-solving abilities by breaking complex subjects down into easy-to-understand steps. Being able to illustrate concepts visually is also very helpful.
If you’re a creative individual who can break down a piece of technology and express how it works clearly, a job as a technical writer might be a great fit for you!
4. User Experience (UX) Tester
User experience testing is a critical part of developing a good product, particularly when it comes to software. The best-designed software can’t live up to its potential if users struggle with how it works.
As a user experience tester, it’s your job to collect qualitative and quantitative data while test users try to complete a task. You also might collect data on how satisfied these testers are with the product, then use those results to identify changes that can improve your product.
Essentially, UX testers do market research field work that concentrates on software.
Tools Used by User Experience Testers
- A usability lab: This could be a formal lab with two rooms separated by one-way mirrors, or just a simple room with a computer in it. Important is that the test observers stay out of the subjects’ sight.
- A remote lab: Often, UX testing is done remotely. Tools like Maze or Lookback collect qualitative and quantitative data about the users’ reactions and experiences, then provide valuable insight. Many tools record the users’ actions, and sometimes even their facial expressions, as they use the app.
How Being a User Experience Tester Helps You Improve as a Developer
One of the most difficult things as a developer is creating a product with good UX design. Usability is an art. By working as a UX tester while learning to code, you’ll gain valuable insights into what makes a product great. By listening to the users’ experience, you’ll learn the most common things that make a software product shine.
The more you know about how to create a great user experience as a developer, the better the chances are that your product will be the consumer’s top choice. When a developer has insight into what users need, they can design better products from the start.
Characteristics of a User Experience Tester
A UX tester needs the empathy to experience something from another person’s point of view. If you’re curious about what can improve another person’s experience, this tech job may suit you well.
Soft skills are also imperative in this position, as well as critical thinking and the ability to understand and incorporate feedback. Finally, you’ll need your problem-solving skills to suggest better ways of doing things.
5. Quality Assurance (QA) Tester
Another important role in software testing is quality assurance testing. The QA tester checks the robustness of software to make sure it performs properly. This way, customers aren’t presented with a software product that has glaring bugs. The demand for QA testers is constantly increasing, along with the demand for developers.
Tools Used by Quality Assurance Testers
- Project Management Tools: Quality assurance testers use project planning tools like Jira to assign and delegate work.
- Communication Tools: Tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams allow QA testers to provide feedback instantaneously so that teams can quickly address the issues that are uncovered.
- Document Repository Tools: SharePoint lets a QA tester share live documents with the team to collaborate on them. Having a central repository of information that illustrates how the system should work lets the QA tester determine if something a test uncovers is actually a bug.
- Defect Tracking Tools: Another use for a system like Jira is to track defects and assign bugs to the developer team so they can fix them.
- Version Management: Version management systems track of changes over time. Some popular version management tools are GitHub and Bitbucket, which are both git repository hosting services.
- Automation Tools: Automated testing saves much time and tedious work. Tools like Cucumber, Selenium and Jenkins automate testing without needing much code.
How Being a Quality Assurance Tester Helps You Gain Skills as a Developer
As a QA tester, you’ll get valuable experience working closely with the development team. Your budding code skills will come in handy and make you an indispensable tester. You’ll be able to understand the ins and outs of the system and enhance your learning.
Also, you’ll gain a network within a company with developers on staff. Lastly, you’ll gain valuable experience working with many of the same tools developers use.
Characteristics of a Quality Assurance Tester
You might enjoy QA testing if you’re a detail-oriented critical thinker. It takes a good eye for detail to spot bugs and come up with meaningful tests. You’ll also need skills to work in a team and time management skills to set realistic deadlines.
Programming isn’t the only way to break into tech; there are many tech jobs you can apply to right now, letting you create a solid network and build your skills while bringing in an income. These positions leverage what you already know, even if you’re not ready to pass a coding interview and start programming full time.
To get started in these developer-adjacent roles:
- Look back at each role’s characteristics and tools sections. Which skills do you already have? Which tools do you know? Take this intermediary career step now and apply for some positions.
- Each role described above offers ways to increase your skills and opportunities for professional development. You’ll benefit from this experience when you’re ready to apply for software developer roles.
- It takes a large team to run a tech company and support software development. Each of the roles described here gives you the chance to be part of that team and see up close what the day-to-day work of a software developer entails.
- Remember: A tech career is a journey, not a destination.
More Tips to Improve Your Job Search Skills
Are you working in one of the jobs described here or getting ready to apply? Join the forum below to discuss how your developer journey is going as you learn while you earn.
About the Author
Jennifer Bailey is a full-time computer science professor, a Google Developer Group organizer and an Android bootcamp instructor. She’s advised hundreds of students on how to go from learner to earner and how to do both at once, a feat she continues to achieve daily in her own life.