There’s a lot to consider when you’re trying to figure out the next step in your career, especially when that next step is a career change. Are you looking for a different work-life balance? Are you looking for an industry with better job growth? Or maybe you’re ready to switch from an in-person work environment to a fully remote one.
Whatever the reasons, navigating a career change can be equal parts exciting and nerve-racking, and it can also be a big time commitment. So if you’re going to put in all this time and effort, you obviously want it to pay off in the form of a job you’re happy with. And, sure, sometimes you can’t predict how it’ll all work out, but there are some clues that can help you decide if a job is right for you. There are also ways to tell if your past experience lends itself well to a job you’re excited about.
If you’re considering a switch to a new job in tech, here are five in-demand roles in the industry, plus how to catch a hiring manager’s eye as a relative newbie.
But first: What are recruiters looking for from career-switchers?
Danny Roberts, Skillacademy’s Senior Technical Recruiter, says he often sees applicants applying for jobs with no relevant past experience, and that sets them up for disappointment. He’s not saying it’s impossible, but it’s extremely difficult and will likely take a long time to make the switch.
This is why it’s important to identify roles that align in some way to your background and/or core interests. Maybe you used a similar piece of technology in a past job, or maybe you’re comfortable working with large datasets, which will be a big part of a new role. The key here is that you should be able to demonstrate to potential employers that you have relevant past experience. To that end, creating a portfolio with relevant projects you’ve built outside of your 9-to-5 is a great way to showcase what you can do.
Here’s another example from Danny: “Let’s say somebody is an analyst in finance who thought they wanted to get into accounting, but they ended up finding it too boring. And they discovered that they get way more excited about data science. For someone like this, it absolutely makes sense for them to make a leap — they have those passions, core interests, and relevant experience, and can come in and hit the ground running and learn as they go.”
Danny also recommends including any hobbies or passions that align with the industry somewhere in your application. Since positions in tech can be extremely competitive, you’ll want to highlight any unique details to help you stand out and ultimately land a job.
1. Machine Learning Engineer
Unsurprisingly, machine learning is a huge deal right now. Businesses in nearly every sector — from agriculture to streaming services to healthcare — are using their data to develop machine learning models to make predictions that’ll impact future business decisions.
As a Machine Learning Engineer, you’ll spend the bulk of your time working with large data sets and identifying patterns to help your company meet its goals. If you’re already working in computer science or another IT field, your exposure to technical thinking and concepts, as well as your math background, will put you ahead of the game as you’re looking to land a job in machine learning.
Also, keep in mind that just because you don’t have a technical background, doesn’t mean machine learning is off limits. For example, let’s say you’ve worked as a buyer and therefore know a lot about consumer buying behavior. You could leverage this expertise and explore entry-level machine learning roles in e-commerce.
Our course on the Basics of Machine Learning is a great place to start if you’re just beginning your journey in the field of machine learning. Already know Python or have a working knowledge of the language? Then check out our Build Deep Learning Models with TensorFlow Skill Path that’ll introduce you to machine learning technologies and techniques.
Then, start building your technical resume with these tips, and check out our guide on how to get a job in machine learning, which includes guidance for your machine learning portfolio.
Once you’ve landed an interview, here’s a list of typical machine learning interview questions to practice.
2. Full-Stack Engineer
A Full-Stack Engineer has a large scope with wide-ranging responsibilities. You’ll need to know how a variety of different front- and back-end applications work, when to use them, and how the user interacts with them.
If you’re already working in web development (maybe you’re a Front-End Engineer or a Back-End Engineer), it would make a lot of sense to take the next step and learn the extra tools and software needed to move into full-stack development. Another career move that would make sense is if you want a more hands-on role in the day-to-day building, but you’ve been working in an adjacent role like DevOps or UX design. In this case, your background knowledge of web development could set you up for a transition to full-stack development (with some training, of course).
Another scenario is if your day job is a non-technical role, but you have solid coding skills — maybe you’ve been building websites as a hobby for years. This background would stand out to a hiring manager and connect the dots for you to move into full-stack development from a non-technical role. Just keep in mind that you might need to take an entry-level role or a role that’s a stepping stone, like Front-End Engineer and Back-End Engineer, before making the leap to Full-Stack Engineer.
Not sure where to start? Check out our Full-Stack Engineer Career Path, which is beginner-friendly, to learn how to get a web development project done from start to finish. And if you’re considering starting with either the front- or back-end first, check out our Career paths for Front-End Engineer or Back-End Engineer.
Need help with your job application? Here are our tips on how to write a Full-Stack Developer resume that’ll stand out, and here’s how to write a cover letter when you’re applying to a Full-Stack Developer job. And once you’ve moved onto the interview process, here are six common interview questions for Full-Stack Developers that you can prepare for.
3. IoT Engineer
Do you own a smartwatch? What about a smart refrigerator? Or are you interested in the technology behind self-driving cars? All of these are examples of IoT (Internet of Things) devices, and they’re part of an industry that’s rapidly growing and primed to shape how we function as a society in the coming years.
But what makes someone a good fit for a role as an IoT Engineer? Well, first off, if you have an engineering degree or you’re already working as an engineer, that makes you a strong candidate. And we’re not just talking about software engineers here. Hardware engineers, especially those with some software skills, can also succeed in this field. Likewise, software engineers who have some hardware background will find that to be an advantage during the job-hunting process.
Two other fields that are linked to IoT are cybersecurity and data science. IoT devices face security vulnerabilities, so cybersecurity experts will find that their background and skills translate well to IoT. And Data Scientists will find that their data analysis and organizing skills will directly relate to the work of an IoT Engineer, because once the IoT products are developed and in use, all the data from these devices need to be analyzed.
The next step is to build your resume and portfolio. Check out our guide on how to write a technical resume. Then, get tips on how to put together a technical portfolio that’ll catch the hiring manager’s eye.
4. Product Manager
Great Product Managers are organized, data-driven, analytical, creative, quantitative, strategic, and communicative. They can be described as the glue holding the team together, and they’re the go-between, liaising for the dev team with sales, marketing, research and development, and upper management.
Product Managers are also responsible for maintaining the timelines of each product, as well as ensuring team members have the resources they need to produce effective solutions. If you’re good at laying out a plan and executing that plan with your team, then you might thrive as a Product Manager.
People from all sorts of backgrounds, both technical and non-technical, can make the transition to a Product Manager. But keep in mind that you may have more success during the job-hunting process if you’re looking for Product Manager roles within the area you’re already working. For example, if you’re currently a designer, you can consider looking for a Product Manager role that oversees design software, or if you’re coming from a Front-End Engineer position, look into Product Manager roles that require a technical background (not all do!).
If you’re looking to build on your existing skill set before making a switch, our Learn Intermediate SQL for Marketers and Product Managers is an excellent option. You can also check out this list of technical skills that Product Managers should have.
Once you’re ready to apply for jobs, our guide on how to read a job description and incorporate details from it on your resume can help you make sure your application makes it through the screening process.
5. Cybersecurity Professional
News of data breaches and hacks has unfortunately become an everyday occurrence, and many companies have decided to get on the offensive by hiring cybersecurity experts. As a cybersecurity professional, your job is to defend an organization’s network, users, and resources. Typical jobs titles for professionals in this field are Cybersecurity Analyst, Cybersecurity Engineer, Security Engineer, Security Administrator, Forensic Computer Analyst, and Chief Information Security Officer.
Hackers are always trying new and innovative ways to steal valuable data or bring whole computer systems down, which means cybersecurity experts need to continuously learn and implement new and better solutions to protect data. In other words, a big part of the job is to always be learning, so if you aren’t a fan of continuous education, this isn’t the right fit for you.
If you’re already fluent in one or more of the programming languages used in cybersecurity, or if you already spend part of your day analyzing software or diagnosing network issues, then you’ll be a solid candidate for a career switch. Also, an understanding of network architecture, operating systems, and software development will give you the technical foundation you’ll need as a company’s cybersecurity expert.
To jumpstart your career protecting organizations from threats, you can begin with our Introduction to Cybersecurity course, which teaches you the basics and introduces you to the technologies involved. Then, learn how to write a compelling cybersecurity resume, and check out this guide with tips on how to get into the cybersecurity field.
Looking for more career advice, including resume tips and interview prep? Our Career Center is a great resource. You can find code challenges to practice your technical skills before an interview, more tips from tech recruiters, information on how to ace the technical interview, and so much more to help you navigate the job-hunting process.