It’s becoming more and more common for tech companies to no longer require a four-year degree to get an entry-level position. This opens the opportunity for many people searching for a new career to enter the tech industry. Whether you are a graduating high school senior looking to start a career, or an adult looking to change careers, you don’t necessarily have to go to a four-year college to do so. In this article we will discuss why tech companies don’t always require degrees, what companies don’t require degrees, and the type of tech skills you must learn to apply.

Why companies no longer require degrees 

There are a few reasons companies are no longer requiring applicants to have degrees: 

  1. The tech talent shortage – The tech industry is experiencing a shortage of qualified candidates. Because of this, companies have reevaluated the qualifications for employment. By opening job applications to candidates who don’t have a degree, they are helping to close the labor gap at their companies and increasing the tech talent available to them.

  2. Developing hands-on experience in the position – Many companies have realized that their employees can develop hands-on experience while working in the position. In-depth onboarding and continuous training for employees allows candidates to grow within their position in a way that benefits both the individual and the organization.

  3. Skills-based requirements rather than education-based requirements – Let’s face it – education just doesn’t offer all the requirements necessary for a tech career. Someone who wants to work in software development, for example, won’t necessarily benefit from the general education requirements at a 4-year college. They will, however, benefit from learning specific skills that they will use day-to-day in a tech career. Because of this, companies have shifted to skills-based requirements on their applications.

  4. Equity in hiring – Some companies in tech recognize the inequity in requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher for its employees. With the cost of college tuition constantly rising, it becomes more of an investment for people to go to school, and some people simply can’t afford it. Removing this requirement creates a more equitable workspace for tech employees.  

What companies no longer require degrees 

If by this point you’re wondering which elusive companies are not requiring their employees to have a college degree, look no further. Here are some companies who no longer require degrees to apply: 

  1. Google – Google was one of the first companies to announce they would no longer require their employees to hold a college degree. While they offer a certificate program themselves, they also accept applicants who have completed skills certificates in the line of work they apply for.  
  1. Tesla – Elon Musk has been open about his opinion that education is irrelevant to the ability of a candidate to learn a skill. He even tweets about jobs available for Tesla, encouraging those without a college degree to apply. 
  1. Apple – As of 2018, about half of Apple’s employees did not have a four-year college education. Their CEO, Tim Cook, stated in 2019,  “we’ve looked at the mismatch between the skills that are coming out of colleges, and what the skills are that we believe we need in the future.” 
  1. IBM – Companies like IBM recognize the necessity of upskilling their employees. They don’t require a college degree, and also provide employees with an internal learning platform to ensure they are up-to-date on their job’s skills.  

What tech skills you must know to apply 

Just because companies may not require college degrees doesn’t mean you don’t need to have the skills required for the job. These are the skills needed for specific fields within the tech industry:  

  • Cyber security specialist – Cyber security specialists protect companies from cyber-attacks. Some skills needed to start a career as a cyber security specialist are packet analysis, vulnerability analysis, knowledge of programming languages like Python, and Agile development.  
  • Data scientist – Data scientists analyze data for companies to provide insight and make suggestions. To become a data scientist, you should know how to use programming languages like Python and R programming. Python particularly is used in machine learning, a main component of data science. You should also be familiar with SQL and Tableau.  
  • Software developer – The role of a software developer is versatile. They are the brainstormers and implementers of many different types of programs. It is a necessary skill to learn front-end development such as HTML, JavaScript, and CSS3, along with back-end development. You should also be up to date on different programming languages, responsive design, and database development.