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February 6, 2017

Busting 7 Myths about Technology Careers – Part 2

By Charles Eaton

BustTheTechMythsIn the first installment of this myth-busting series, I tackled the misconception that “Technology is all about coding, math and science.” Now, let’s smack the second basic myth about technology careers. It’s another one that could derail today’s teens from becoming tomorrow’s technologists and prevent them from closing the tech skills gap for us:

“Working in technology requires a 4-year college degree”

  • Multiple Paths: Per the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2014 American Community Survey, 59 percent of computer support specialists employed that year didn’t have a Bachelor’s degree. The truth is that many people land a job in tech with just some basic training and a certification. Motivated students can learn the underpinnings of technology and start troubleshooting problems or writing code after one introductory class – no matter at what age they start studying. Sure, many people learn about technology in high school and college. But plenty of others who start studying through online programs that are accessible to anyone – no matter where they live.
  • Wide Horizon: The traditional route of earning a computer science degree isn’t as narrow a road as many would expect. The development of intangible skills, such as being flexible, adaptable and collaborative, can begin in the classroom. These “soft skills,” which I referred to in my last post, can help prepare young people for working in large organizations and other, smaller businesses. A structured program at the college level can familiarize students with workplace skills they will need on the job, such as functioning as part of a team and following the directions of a supervisor. Students also can begin to specialize in college, studying information systems, data analytics and similar courses. And there’s a growing world of coding boot camps operated by private entities, such as General Assembly and Prime Digital Academy, that are helping students find their way into a software development career in just a few months.
While researching my upcoming book, How to Launch Your Teen’s Career in Technology: A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM Education, I interviewed Eric Berngen, who worked as a teacher and technology department chair at an early college STEM school, Sarah E. Goode High School in Chicago.

Eric told me: “In the world of technology, there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Technology is not a destination. It’s about a journey.”

But technology moves quickly, and neither a 4-year degree nor a certain set of certifications is a guarantee of success. Like any journey, the keys to pursuing a successful technology career are watching for bumps in the road without losing sight of the horizon, continually moving forward without wearing out, and, above all, being willing to adjust course while staying focused on the final goal.

Because the one thing we can guarantee about technology is that it will evolve.

So should anyone who works with it.

Next on my myth-stomping parade: “If it’s not at Facebook or Google, it’s not a technology job.”