Top Job Skills You Can Learn Without a College Degree

Top Job Skills Without College

As the economy diversifies, so do the choices you face when you're preparing to enter the workforce. A four-year degree is no longer a must for many lucrative positions, nor is it an automatic ticket to career success. And with the cost of a traditional college education continuing to rise, student loans are becoming more of a burden, as well.

In short, it pays to look around at the growing number of alternatives that can jump-start you on a career path. Specialized professions in the culinary arts, sewing, carpentry, and money management (everything from credit to budgeting to investing) offer a wealth of opportunities through affordable certificate programs and apprenticeships.

But nowhere are the opportunities greater than in the IT field, which is good news because you can pursue training and certification in much of this space online. This has become even more crucial during the pandemic, as distance learning has become the norm in many places.

And if you're trying to save money (and who isn't?), here's some good news: There are numerous free online courses to explore, and plenty of places to get started.

Follow these steps to gain real-world expertise without a college degree:

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Online Learning Tips: How to Succeed in Virtual Classes & Degrees

Business and education leaders share tips and tricks for overcoming the challenges of distance learning and getting the most value from your online education.

online learning tips

For many of us, the global coronavirus pandemic has made in-person learning a temporary impossibility, but even with the promise of a vaccine, the shift toward learning online is likely to be a permanent trend.

Beyond its current expedience, there are many advantages to pursuing a training or degree program online, including the ability to study at your own pace and schedule, practicing self-motivation, gaining expertise in the increasingly valuable array of digital collaboration tools, and saving money versus traditional classroom programs.

However, online learning, be it in front of your computer or on a mobile device, presents numerous challenges, from the lack of interaction with fellow students, to potential struggles with motivation, concentration, and time management.

For a deeper look at the challenges of distance learning and how to conquer them, we asked industry experts in business, education and technology for their best tips and tricks for online learning. Here’s what they had to say.

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Highest Paying IT Degrees

Highest Paying IT Degrees

While money isn’t everything when choosing a career, with the average total cost for a 4-year college degree reaching approximately $122,000, you certainly want to invest in a program that will increase your chances of landing a high-paying job after graduation and foster long-term success.

For many, a degree in information technology is probably your best bet. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard, bachelor’s degrees in computer science and engineering lead to the highest salaries. Mathematics and business rank among the top paying fields, too.

Computer and mathematical occupations are expected to grow 12.1 percent between 2019 and 2029 (much faster than the 3.7% growth rate for all occupations) according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). And many companies are still hiring for entry-level roles in IT and computer tech, despite the pandemic.

Whether you are already working toward a degree or shopping around for colleges, read on to learn more about the top paying degrees you need to land your dream job in IT.

(Note: Unless otherwise stated, all salaries cited in this post were taken from sites that collect data anonymously from employees.)

Here are the top paying bachelor's degrees in information technology:

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The Best Free Online Computer Courses

The Internet boasts a wealth of free computer training for those who know where to look. Here are some of the best free online courses available right now.

This article will be updated continually with the latest and greatest schools and courses.

Rankings are unbiased; ITCareerFinder receives no compensation from links to the best free online courses.

best free online computer courses

Nonprofit organizations, technology companies, and educational institutions provide free computer courses across all IT subjects and skill levels. Some do this to expose more people to their software or hardware, while others strive to make top-notch education more accessible. Regardless of the training provider’s mission, self-motivated learners can capitalize on this massive cache of free online computer training to grow their skill set, earn certifications to validate their expertise to prospective employers, and gain exposure to new IT careers.

To compile our list of the best free computer courses, we looked at numerous factors including relevance of curriculum, ease of accessibility, course quality, and provider reputation. We also endeavored to represent the top training options across multiple categories and skill levels.

In no particular order, here are our favorite online training providers and their best free computing courses:

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Jobs You Can Get with a Computer Science Degree

ITCareerFinder breaks down the most sought-after information technology jobs you can get with a degree in computer science. Delve into each role for marketable courses and electives, salaries, recommended degree programs and insider tips.

computer science degree jobs

There’s never been a better time than now to pursue a career in IT. The proliferation of emerging technologies in mobile and cloud computing, soaring demand for data science, programming and cyber security skills, and the increased automation (for better or worse) of legacy roles in retail and manufacturing, are just some of the factors driving a golden age for tech employment. There are infinite paths to the IT job of your dreams, but whichever road you choose there’s a good chance that earning a degree in computer science (CS) will be your first step.

CS curricula and the jobs you can land with a computer science degree vary widely, but there are some core subjects shared by most undergraduate computer science programs. The core curriculum in a CS associate or bachelor’s degree typically includes programming and software development, data structures and algorithms, operating systems, and applied mathematics. There are many CS specializations that dive deeper into one or more of these core areas, and plenty of computer science majors designed to prepare you for a specific IT career path. Your personal passions, resources like time and money, and the job you’re shooting for will dictate the computer science program that’s right for you.

The curriculum in a graduate computer science program builds on the undergrad coursework above. Generally, a computer science master’s degree dives deeper into the technical skills you learned as an undergrad, with a greater focus on a specific career track and potential management roles. MBAs in computer science concentrate on the business side of things; here you will learn to use computing skills to set and achieve organizational goals. Doctoral and PhD degrees in computer science tend to focus on research and scientific advancement; these programs are geared toward jobs like computer research scientist and CS professor.

This article will lay out some of the best jobs you can achieve with a computer science diploma (“best” in this case means top-tier salaries, an aggressive hiring forecast, and a high rate of upward mobility). We'll also highlight the courses and electives you should pursue to maximize your job prospects in each role, recommended degree levels, and earnings.

Here are the best jobs you can get with computer science degree:

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Should You Pursue an Online Degree?

Education vs. Experience: Many people find that their career reaches a plateau and that employers place greater value on workers with a higher level of education or a degree more relevant to the modern workplace. Anyone that has ever been passed over for promotion only to find a college graduate in the post will know how frustrating this can be. An online degree offers the perfect solution.

Online Degree Benefits

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Top Programming Languages Used By Web Developers

While most web developers share the same goal of bug-free, functional, usable web sites, there are several programming languages developers can use to reach that goal. Let’s compare the major programming language choices available to the modern web developer.

top programming languages

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Highest Paying IT College Majors

New workforce studies indicate the best computer majors by salary.

Best Computer College Majors 2013

I'm always analyzing employment studies and talking with technology executives about the IT skills and certifications they’re looking for in new hires. In addition to experience and credentials, education is a key factor in landing your dream job. In this article we’re going back to school for a look at the best paying IT majors of study.

The January 2013 salary survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), which tracks college graduates’ job offers, and a recent Georgetown University study based on employment data from the U.S. Census Bureau, independently verified that Computer Science (CS), Computer Engineering (CE) and Computer Information Systems (CIS) graduates earn the highest starting salaries of all technology majors.

Here's a breakdown of the top 3 best paying IT majors:

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Online IT Schools