Lots of people have dreams of changing careers into tech—but you might think it’s impossible or unlikely if you’ve spent your career in a totally different industry like construction, medicine, or food service.
But you can learn how to get into tech with no experience. In the post below, you’ll learn tips on how to switch careers without experience and meet over a dozen people who prove you can break into tech no matter your background.
This post is sponsored by Flatiron School. They have a proven track record of helping people switch into tech with their in-person and online bootcamps. You can streamline your journey by joining one of their programs to learn software engineering, UX/UI design, or data science at Flatiron School in just 15 weeks. Then, launch a new career with one-on-one support from their dedicated career coaches. They back it all up with their money-back guarantee—get a job in tech, or receive your tuition back (see details).
Whether a bootcamp is right for you or not, using the tips below will only help your hunt for tech jobs with no experience, so let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
- Look within an industry that’s related to your current industry or hobby
- Spell out your soft skills and how they’ll help you in tech
- Revamp (or start) your LinkedIn profile to fit your new direction
- Do an internship to get relevant experience
- Start a side gig
- Attend a coding bootcamp to speed up your transition
- Get a certification
- Take online courses in your spare time to try it out before committing to a bootcamp OR do an online bootcamp alongside your job
- Build a project
1. Look within an industry that’s related to your current industry or hobby
It’s easier to get an “in” with little experience when you already have familiarity with an industry. This gives you a chance to provide value to the company beyond the raw tech skills you’re bringing to the table. You know the lingo, the market, and the things people care about there. All of this gives you an edge in the application process, from cover letters to interviews.
For instance, if you’re coming from finance, banking, or accounting, a FinTech company could be a natural fit. In Ina Yulo’s podcast episode, she noted that most people she knows from her work in FinTech came from banking backgrounds (though she herself was an advertising transitioner).
There are plenty of new opportunities in the space, from cryptocurrency jobs to work at app-based startups like TransferWise or Robinhood. If you can crunch numbers and have good regulatory knowledge of the industry, you’ll be off to a good start.
Here are some other ideas of natural industry transitions:
- Teacher -> EdTech: companies like the course platform Coursera or Nearpod, which combines VR and AR technology with traditional lesson plans
- Scientist, researcher, pharmacist -> BioTech: an example is 23andMe, where the labs will test DNA you submit to tell you your ancestry, health reports, help you find and contact DNA relatives, and more
- Doctor, nurse, dentist, fitness professional, therapist -> HealthTech: Tempus creates data-harnessing technology to personalize cancer treatment using genomic sequencing, clinical data structuring, image recognition, biological modeling and other means; NurseGrid helps nurses manage their shifts
- Fashion/beauty -> FashionTech or wearable tech: Fitbit lets users track activities with a fitness wristband; Perfitly uses 3-D visualization so shoppers can see how a garment will fit and look on their bodies before buying
- Environmentalism/conservation/manufacturing -> CleanTech or GreenTech: the former helps businesses reduce waste and make more eco-friendly products (e.g. Proterra zero-emission buses); the latter is more focused on things like renewable energy and recycling (e.g. bio-bean, which transforms used coffee grounds into other products like biofuels)
- Catering/hospitality -> FoodTech: Disrupting how food is selected, preserved, processed, packaged, sold and distributed, like Winnow Solutions, which helps companies run a more efficient and sustainable kitchen by automating food waste capture using AI
- Real estate agent / mortgage advisor -> Real estate technology: companies like Zillow that facilitate property buying, renting, and home loans
- Insurance -> InsurTech: companies like Dinghy, which provides business insurance for freelancers, or Tractable, which uses AI to settle accident claims faster
- Lawyer/paralegal/regulator -> RegTech or LegalTech: the use of new technology to facilitate the delivery of legal services and regulatory requirements. For instance, Atrium, a machine learning startup which provides legal services to startups and digitizes documents
- Travel agent / hotel worker / air steward -> TravelTech: tons of companies, from large ones like TripAdvisor and AirBnB to small ones like Upside for business travel and Like Locals which helps travelers discover hidden gems on self-guided walks
There are so many crossover options to explore! Make a list of all the industries, areas, hobbies where you’ve spent time, particularly those you enjoyed. Use your experience to get your foot in the door, even if you start small like building websites on a freelance basis for people in the industry or hobby you’re trying to specialize in.
Flatiron School grad Karla R. went from finance to Blockchain Developer in the FinTech industry. Karla had a successful career working in several different roles at Visa, but felt ready to take on new challenges and wanted more creativity and excitement in her life by working in a startup environment. After attending Flatiron School, she’s now a Systems Consultant for a blockchain technology startup, leveraging her background in finance for a new, dynamic career in tech.
Career changer Debby Albert went from graphic design to advertising to merchandising to heading up creative departments to now working as a UX strategist full-time at the age of 58. “Leverage your past experience in any way you can,” she advises. “You might be surprised at how much you already know.”
2. Spell out your soft skills and how they’ll help you in tech
A company can always train employees to improve on “hard” skills like a coding language, but soft skills rely more on personality qualities that are more built into each person. Emphasize them in interviews and applications when possible.
Flatiron School grad Victoria Thevenot graduated college with a degree in English. After Flatiron School, she now works as Lead Ad Developer at New York Magazine. While you might not think an English degree would help in a tech job, it actually gave her an edge over the competition.
During her time pursuing a non-tech college degree, she was unintentionally honing a variety of soft skills that transferred to her new tech role, including communication skills, processing and synthesizing information effectively, and breaking down problems into smaller pieces.
You can do the same with your qualities, e.g. attention to detail, reliability, etc. Think about past performance reviews and good things past supervisors and coworkers have said about you. Showcase your passion, knowledge, and personality throughout the hiring process.