As the technology job field continues to expand with job opportunities and the potential for long-career growth, local nonprofit WeCodeKC is working to build local kids’ skills so they can become successful adults.
WeCodeKC serves youths in the urban core of Kansas City by exposing them to computer programming, cyber security, and coding.
Founder Tammy Buckner said technology can be a successful pathway to a lucrative career for someone without a four-year degree.
“Organizations are interested in hiring students if they have skills and can go directly into working on the front end and back in development,” Buckner said. “Maybe they don’t have a four-year degree, but if they can show they have skills in those trades, organizations are interested in hiring those students.”
Cybersecurity is an expansive job field with opportunities to grow, and many entry-level positions do not require four-year degrees.
Entry-level cybersecurity jobs include cybersecurity specialists that identify and prevent attacks on security networks and IT auditors that identify and find problems within a company’s technology infrastructure.
Depending on which state you live in, starting salaries can range between $46,000 and $55,000.
Software and web development are among the fastest-growing jobs in the tech industry and don’t require a degree.
Web developers design, build, maintain, and fine-tune websites. Most web developers can read and write code, which is a computer language used to build websites and computer programs. Using those skills developers can find job opportunities at private companies, government agencies, and as entrepreneurs.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for web developers with less than five years of experience was between $40,750 and $55,390, with salary increasing into six figures with more time and experience in the industry.
“Programming languages are what most employers feel are in high demand,” Buckner said. “It’s not unheard of that you could be making no less than $50,000 a year straight out of high school.”
For some, earning a degree from a four-year institution might not always be the best route to employment – but that doesn’t mean they can’t revisit the idea in the future, as many employers offer tuition-assistance programs.
“It’s not uncommon when you do get employed, some of these employers will go ahead and pay for your college or other certifications for you to continue to learn,” Buckner said.
Even though some experience and training are required for careers in technology, WeCodeKC offers programs that can lead to accreditation and certification in different areas.
WeCodeKC offers programs for students aged 7-17 and the (Re)Start career program, in partnership with the Missouri Workforce Development, aimed at helping adults learn skills in the tech industry.
Most community colleges also offer technology training. Some offer two-year associate degrees in the field. They may also offer certification or accreditation programs in a variety of technical fields. “It’s a very in-demand industry,” Buckner said. “Just try your best to get involved with technology, because, I promise you, it will take you into opportunities that are wide open for you.”