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Opinion: How to get tech jobs without high-cost college

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Technology careers are soaring – have been for 30 years. In the late 1990s, the dot-com era, organizations sought to hire software developers in droves. If you could code even just a little, you were in high demand.

My own career shifted from human resources into working with technology to support HR functions. Eventually, I made the full shift into the tech industry and began programming using a Microsoft language. Prior to that, most of my technical learning was via books and trial and error on writing personal programs.

Do I have a degree in technology? No.

Many employers – private and public – will consider commensurate experience in lieu of what would have been a job requirement of a degree. While collegiate experience is helpful for most industries and jobs, the tech field recognizes that skill and work experience are more important. Of the two, skill is more important than on-the-job experience. Skill can be demonstrated by certifications as well as project work showcased online and in an interview. Volunteering in a technical capacity can add to work experience.

In 2023, every organization is a tech organization. At minimum, someone has to build and handle the business website or manage someone who does. Why? Everything is online, and organizations reach their stakeholders through social media and content on websites.

Whether you’re considering working in the tech industry or perhaps in a technical job, free and low-cost skill learning is available in many places and not merely at colleges and universities. Tech jobs often do not require a degree but rather proof of knowledge and skill.

Here are a few options you can research to determine whether and how to add technological knowledge and skills, engaging your curiosity and interests. Many are free.

The Springfield-Greene County Library District offers the Udemy Business learning platform and many of its courses for free for library cardholders. Access the platform at, and after the setup and login process, some class examples are Introduction to Computer Networks for Non-Techies, Complete Introduction to Cybersecurity 2023 and The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Technology.

Interested in software and development? Check out, and Modern languages to research include JavaScript and Python. For working on the web to develop how sites and pages look, learn HTML and cascading style sheets, aka CSS. Then add a front-end skill package such as Angular, Vue or React, all based off of the JavaScript language.

Cybersecurity’s all the rage. Is that a field for you or someone you know? It is in dire need of skilled practitioners. Valuable online data and information require protection. Here are some resources:

  • YouTube. Professor Messer’s courses can teach what you need to know for the entry level (but hiring manager desired) Security+ certification exam. The learning is all free.
  • offers free and paid learning from cybersecurity beginner to interactive learner, combining the skills you are learning. Because the site provides interactive exercises of real-world scenarios – from hacking machines to investigating attacks – you can use this virtual machine (computer) to work in a controlled environment that does not risk your own machine.
  • TCM Security’s courses are $30 each and of great quality. Follow TCM Security on LinkedIn. Sometimes courses are as low as $1 on promotions.
  • For more advanced or topical cybersecurity knowledge, follow Black Hills Information Security’s pay-what-you-can courses. Courses and events are available at

If interested in a career in information technology support/help desk, working directly on computers and with the people who use them, a resource to build this skill set via YouTube is Kevtech IT Support.

Looking to boost those online searching skills? Look up “Please Do Not Throw Sausage Pizza Away” online and learn what that mnemonic helps you memorize. The cybersecurity field calls this skill set OSINT, an abbreviation for Open Source Intelligence, i.e., anything a skilled searcher can find because the information is publicly available.

After exploration, if you discover an interest for further knowledge, look for in-person or virtual classes through local and regional nonprofits and agencies.

Technical careers require skills in artificial intelligence, software development, cybersecurity, network security and many others. Learning via platforms dedicated to building skills for specific roles and industries offer up-to-date, ready-to-use training that adapts as the industry changes. Because of the great need for professionals to fill jobs in these fields, much of the training is easily accessible. Schedule some time with your computer to research these options and what might fit.

Heather Noggle is owner of Codistac LLC. She can be reached at


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