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How to score a high paying job in IT with no experience or degree?

One of the core pillars of Financial Independence is that you increase your income and lower your expenses so you can invest. There is plenty of different ways to increase your income, and one of them is to score a high paying IT job.

So while most of my blog is about saving and investing so far, I haven’t spoken much about increasing your income.

While I do feel that it really is possible to reach Financial Independence from any job in Europe, I also feel it is considerably harder to do if your wage is lower.

I myself scored a job in IT 10 years ago with no IT degree or job experience. I would like to use my story to hopefully help you do the same.

I did this 10 years ago, but I am certainly not the only one, I have colleagues who studied philosophy, nuclear science and even a cook. Want to know how you can score a high paying job as well? Read on!

Why would you want a career in IT?

Firstly IT is not the only job you could do without experience. You could move into sales as well or start your own company. But that is not for everyone. IT is the kind of job where you can sit in an office and do your own thing while earning a good paycheck.

Most employers give an incredible flexibility allowing you to work in your preferred hours, often from home and giving great benefits.

Additionally there is a shortage on the market. In my company there has been an open position for months. We are very flexible with who we hire but candidates are hard to come by. This gives you more job security and negotiating power when it comes to your wage.

Because IT is still relatively new it is fast changing, and because its fast changing opportunities arise for newcomers. This gives you a major advance over guys who are educated in IT. The teachers that teach in IT teach outdated languages and principles. This is not true everywhere but it certainly is in some areas.

If you can identify what areas are new and focus on those then this will give you an advantage over people who studied IT.

Now all of this is not enough for you to start in IT. Actually you should have some interest in IT as well, you should be somewhat curious what is behind the idea of a website when you are browsing the internet for example. Just a basic interest is enough.

Understanding the gap

Now I talked before how IT is changing fast and it is hard to keep up.

Now why is this important? This is something you can take advantage of. If you study some of that new technology there is a high chance that you will know this better then anyone fresh out of school.

The difference with someone fresh out of school is that they will have seen the whole range in IT. But don’t get intimated by this, for the kind of job you want to aim for a broad knowledge will not matter as you will see in the next chapter.

Filling the gap

I recently started learning a new area in IT as a hobby in summer when I had a 2 week holiday and not much to do myself. I realized the framework I was learning was only two years old and was very different of the things I learned about IT in the past

Now if you decide to learn IT do not get encouraged if it doesn’t go right away. At the beginning you will not get most things, it will be a strange world with a lot of dark spots. As you learn more and more the sun will slowly arrise and clear up the dark spots.

Its actually not so different from learning an actual language. I had so much trouble with languages growing up. Even later on when I decided to learn Spanish I had to take the beginners course twice. Only after this suddenly things started to make sense.

The thing is, it will be hard, it will feel like you don’t understand anything, as long as you realize this is normal, your mind will start understanding these strange languages after a while.

How to learn IT for free?

As I was saying I tried to learn something new in the IT world myself this summer.

What worked really well for me was following tutorials on YouTube. There is loads of channels who let you follow tutorials.

Start with a basic course on HTML/CSS, and then choose a Javascript framework. You could choose this framework based on jobs that are available in your area for example. If there is a lot of demand then it might be worth to try to learn it.

This is actually very similar how I gained my first knowledge. Just by making some small hobby websites, although YouTube did not really exist back then.

I recommend the same channel I followed a course with: The Net Ninja

Now its important that when doing this you create a few websites or applications of your own. This will help you learn, but also they will serve as examples for your future employee in the next chapter.

How do you score that job?

Remember at the beginning of the blog I mentioned I scored an IT job with no IT degree or job experience 10 years ago? So here is how YOU can score this job.

Firstly I mentioned you could score a high paying job. Well forget about the wage requirements. In those 10 years I managed to earn a multitude of what I started with so don’t look to much at what you get paid when you start off.

Start wage is not what you should look at. You have no degree and no work experience, you need a job where you can get job experience and learn a lot. A stepping stone to a better wage later on.

What kind of job do you want? There is one type of job where you have a clear advantage over someone with a degree. Someone with a degree knows about the whole range in IT. You can’t compete with that. But you don’t have to.

The job you want is a job as consultant for an IT consultancy company. The type of job that specializes in one specific area where there is some overlap with what you have been learning yourself.

Applying for the job

Now when applying for this job you will usually face two types of managers. The first type is the kind of manager who has a degree and has always excelled in education, and believes this is the only way you can get IT experience. Unfortunately you will face those. I still face them even being at the top in my area of expertise , there is some people who will always look at your past instead of your skills and your potential.

However there is also a second type and that’s the type of manager that looks at skills & potential. I am that type of manager and so was the manager who hired me 10 years ago.

Now even these will not just hire you just like that. What I did to score my first IT job was suggest that I work for free for a few weeks (in my case this was 2 weeks). Of course you will not do as good as people with 5 years work experience, but like this they can measure your motivation and see how well you can handle feedback.

You will make mistakes during those weeks. Plenty. And they will tell you. At this point you have to be able to handle negative feedback, and its how you can correct yourself based on that feedback that you will be judged.

I used those 2 weeks to build a web application, I worked longer hours then anyone on that office, and after 2 weeks they offered me a job.

Its not ideal to work for free for two weeks. Not everyone can afford that, especially if you are already in a job currently. You will need to get creative. Take some time off and do it then. Work partly from that office and do the rest during the weekends at home. Its not going to be easy, but it really is a first step that you can’t get around.

How to score those high IT wages

When you do get hired remember wage is not important at this point. If they offer you a spot to start at near minimum wage take it. I myself started at 1270 EUR / month (after taxes) and a gas card for my car. Close to the Belgian minimum wage. After 1 year I got my first wage increase and was offered a company car. Ten years later I drive a BMW X1 and make more then anyone I know who knew me before I started in IT.

Once you have the job then continue to show the same motivation that got you hired in the first place. In no time you will be a specialist in your area. You might not know much about anything outside that area, but actually use the time to slowly expand your knowledge to other areas as well if given the chance in your job.

Forward to 1 year experience later and you can be sure recruiters will be contacting you on Linkdin. That doesn’t mean you should change jobs, I personally would stick with that job for at least a few years until you feel really confident and can’t learn anything extra before even thinking of applying for other jobs.

I only switched jobs once so far. It is actually proven that you can the most in this order:

  • People who switch about every 5 years earn the most
  • People who switch only every 10 years earn the most after that
  • People who switch every 1-2 years earn the least

So while switching every year will get you a raise every year in the long term its not so good for your career. Try to switch occasionally but switch for the additional experience, your wage will follow.

This post was about getting an IT job with no expierence, but I am sure there is more possibilities outthere of jobs you can do with no expierence that earn well.

Did you end up somewhere else then what you studied? Let me know in the comments bellow and subscribe for more blogs that can help YOU on your Roadtrip to Financial Independence!

4 thoughts on “How to score a high paying job in IT with no experience or degree?

  1. I actually haven’t switched yet but because I got a raise every year of my career besides 2020 I’m ahead of most peers in a similar function and a similar level of responsibility. But yeah, switching ever so often (but not too) is a good way to raise your salary.

    You mentioned you learned using a new framework? Which one? Lit-HTML, PolymerJS? I’m in IT myself all of my professional career so I’m curious about others.

    Liked by 1 person

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