Do you want to get into the IT industry so you could have one of those high-paying jobs, but you don’t know how to code and have no desire to do so? I have good news for you. There are some roles in the software development industry that either don’t require programming or where the programming you will do is really basic!
Different people and organizations have different views on the role of a project manager. Some would argue that if your organization is truly agile then such a role shouldn’t even exist. Luckily, there are still plenty of jobs available with the title of “Project manager” which do pay really nice salaries.
What does the job entail? It really depends on the organization you’re working for. But the most common things you may have to do is manage the deadlines for a project and make sure everything runs smoothly for the team. One of the most important tasks for you will be removing roadblocks for your development teams so they could focus on the most important part - building software. You may also be responsible for the project’s budget, updating other stakeholders with the status of the project, talking with customers, scheduling meetings, and other administrative duties.
So how do you secure one of those positions?
Of course, like with most of the job postings, there are a bunch of requirements listed for each Project manager position that I looked at on LinkedIn. Some of the most common requirements are a bachelor's degree in either business or technical field and the ability to use either Microsoft Office or G Suite tools.
Also, some of the companies require a PMP (Project management professional) certification. If you’re willing to get one, you’ll definitely stand out amongst the other candidates. The problem is, it requires a lot of time, work, and experience.
If you’re interested in spending the new few years of your life doing it, feel free to do your research on the topic. But since this article is mostly targeting people with either no experience in the software industry whatsoever or software developers wanting to switch careers, let’s talk about the PMP alternative. It’s called CAPM, or “The Certified Associate in Project Management”. The prerequisites for such a certification are a secondary degree, such as a high school diploma or associate’s degree, and 23 hours of project management education completed by the time of the exam.
If you do it through the Project management institute (pmi.org), you will be able to complete the prerequisite by taking a “Project Management Basics - An Official PMI Online Course”, which will cost you $400 or $350 if you’re a member of the institute. And the CAPM exam cost will be $300, or $225 for members.
It may seem like a lot of money but if it’s something you’re interested in and passionate about, it’s not a high price to pay for a better future. The way I got into IT was a CompTIA A+ certificate, for which I had paid a few hundred dollars. And believe me, it was really hard to justify spending that much money when you’re working for $10 an hour. So cut your spendings, for example, stop going to Starbucks for a couple of months, and do what’s going to be good for your future.
Product manager, or sometimes also known as product owner role, can be fun for those who want to actually have a say in what a final product will look like. In this role, you will also have to talk to customers, potential customers, the engineering team, and other managers.
From my search on LinkedIn for this title, it doesn’t seem like there are standardized requirements for the role and every company is looking for someone that will fit them.
But in general, all of them expect you to be technical, know things about User Experience design, know how to use SQL, and at least some programming knowledge. But depending on the company, it may not be necessary.
Salary ranges that I’ve seen are between 70k and 175k, and of course, it depends on your education and experience.
If you’re interested in learning more about this role, I would recommend going to Udacity.com and taking a Nano-degree program for the Product Manager.
As with the Project manager role, it may cost you a few hundred dollars to go through the program, but the payoff may be huge. Especially if you enjoy this type of role.
Not as lucrative as other options but it will still allow you to make a living. I will be honest here. For me, it would be one of the most boring jobs on the planet. And I actually enjoy writing. The actual problem comes with having to write on demand about technical things.
If you think that you’re different from me and want to actually try it out, you obviously need to be technical and either have experience with technical writing already or have some sort of a technical degree, communications, marketing, English, or anything related.
I imagine if you have experience as a software engineer or at least don’t get lost when presented with technical terms, you have a good chance of securing such a position.
The average salary that I saw didn’t really impress me and ranged from 40k to about 95k a year. Another potential problem with this position is being somewhat limited in your career growth. But if you think it’s your only chance to get into IT or a certain company, and then your plan is to switch to doing something else IT related, that may be an option for you.
Before I became a software engineer, I spent over a year as a quality assurance analyst. This role can have different names but it all boils down to testing software. There are a couple of paths you can take with this role. You can either qualify yourself as a manual tester, also known as a tester who doesn’t code, or you can learn some programming and apply for a test automation engineer position.
These days companies want to hire QA people who at least can read and write some code. It doesn’t have to be sophisticated but it often saves a lot of time in testing knowing which parts of the system have changed and what you actually need to test, instead of having to retest the whole application.
As for the pay, some test automation engineers get paid as much or sometimes even more than the developers but of course, it depends on the company. As a manual tester, the pay will be lower and there’s always a chance that your job may be replaced in the future.
So if you do decide to take the path of becoming a QA, you may want to learn some programming language, preferably C# or Python or both, learn how to write SQL queries, and get familiar with some test frameworks, for example, NUnit, Appium and Selenium.
It’s also worth mentioning that if you want to be a software developer but don’t have experience or don’t feel ready yet, a QA path may open a door for you to become a developer at the company. Just make sure to try to switch roles in a year or two, otherwise, they may not take you seriously. But of course, it depends on the company.
This has been a hot topic and you have probably heard of “DevOps” before but you may or may not realize what exactly holding that title entails.
If I had to explain it to someone who’s never heard such a term before, I would probably describe this role as a “system administrator for the cloud”. It may not be the best description but it should give some indication of what the role actually is.
In short, DevOps engineers would make sure that resources such as virtual machines, app services, databases and etc are correctly provisioned, maintained, and secured on the cloud platform, such as Azure, Google Cloud, or AWS. They also would set up the build and release pipelines to make sure that releasing new versions of software is automated and can be easily reverted if something goes sideways.
Some companies, especially start-ups, would not have this as a separate position at the company and they will let developers do it. Hence, it’s the easiest path to go from being a software developer to a DevOps engineer. But with enough motivation and ability, anyone somewhat technical should be able to do the job.
There’s some coding that may be required, mostly to automate common tasks so you don’t waste time. Hence, at least the basic knowledge of a programming language is a must.
For a lot of the positions I have looked at, being comfortable with Linux and Docker is also required. If you do want to stand out, learn terraform, ansible, or both for infrastructure automation. And, of course, SQL.
A lot of the job postings I looked at didn’t have the salaries listed but you can easily make six figures holding this title.
One downside of holding this position is that if some infrastructure goes down, you will have to be the first responder. So you may not just work Monday through Friday 9 to 5 but depending on your role and your company's domain, that may be the case for you even in other positions.
Which one of these options sounds the most appealing to you?