Switching careers can be an incredibly daunting prospect. Especially if you’ve spent 5, 10, 20 years building your career in an industry that has completely lost its luster for you. After all, is it really worth trading an unfulfilling but familiar career for a brand new job that is completely foreign to you?
Maybe…or maybe not. Usually, if you’re facing the decision to start over in a new career it’s because you can see that there is not a future for you on your current path, or least not one you are interested in pursuing.
I know plenty of us at Skillcrush have been there. Customer Support Manager Kelli Orrela left behind an unfulfilling business to work in a career that had always fascinated her (read more about how she learned to code after a 20-year career in her article Is it Too Late for You to Learn to Code? Hint: It’s not!)
Instructor Deepina Kapila felt stuck after starting a career in communications and discovered the way that coding skills could help her totally change her job prospects (watch Dee talk ALL about her process of changing careers in this webinar).
And Director of Content Randle Browning decided to leave academia to work in the faster-paced world of digital marketing (read her post on it: How Tech Skills Saved My Multi-Passionate Career).
But there are a ton of techie jobs out there that can build on the skills you’ve developed in a past (or current) career. Kelli carried her excellent customer and people skills over into her new role, for example, and Randle puts her English degrees to work as a content marketer.
That means you don’t have to start at the bottom, and you only need to add a few more skills to your repertoire to make a smooth transition into a job you love.
(Read more about all their stories and find out how you can make a major change in The Ultimate Guide to Turning Your Passion Into Profit!)
I made the switch from magazine publishing (specifically advertising sales) to blogging to content marketing, continuously building on the skills I built in one career to make me better at the next one. And you can do the same thing, even if your career experience is seemingly even more removed from the world of tech.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been a nurse, an administrative assistant, an engineer, or a bank teller—you have skills that are super valuable in a tech career! In fact, plenty of careers outside of tech can be the perfect launchpad for a career in tech. Here are 10 avenues for getting into tech based on common careers, plus 41 REAL job listings for career changers like you. You can apply right NOW!
And don’t forget to download our free ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Turning Your Passion Into Profit! You’ll get 30+ pages of tips for pinpointing YOUR most valuable skills and how to package them to your advantage, a step-by-step worksheet for finding the path that’s right for you, plus a roadmap for building a career with tech skills.
Finance → Data Analyst
If you have a background in finance, then becoming a data analyst is PERFECT for you. It’s all about taking data and turning it into insights that business can act on. It’s great for anyone who’s used to working with numbers, and analyzing and interpreting trends.
It doesn’t matter what part of finance you’re coming from. Whether you’ve been an investment advisor or a loan officer, your background and experience will give you an edge over others applying for the same jobs. Just be sure to emphasize your analytical and data-wrangling skills!
Learn more about working in data analysis here.
Retail → Customer Support
If there’s one thing you learn working in retail, it’s how to handle customers. Often angry ones. Or ones who have no idea what they’re looking for. Or ones who have to have everything a certain way and nothing else will do. Not to mention the ones that are absolutely awesome to help out.
What all these people-pleasing skills boil down to is this: you’re a perfect candidate for a customer support job (also called tech support by some companies)! You’ll spend your days helping out customers who are running into issues or have questions with your product, and finding great solutions for them.
You’ll need technical skills relevant to the product you’re representing, but otherwise people skills are way more vital to emphasize on your resume!
Find out more about working in customer support here.
Weekend Customer Support Engineer, Intercom (Remote)
Customer Support Specialist, Outbrain (Netanya, IL)
Customer Support Specialist, Workable (Boston, MA)
Customer Support Specialist, Hello Innovation (Detroit, MI)
Sales Manager → Project Manager
The main expertise project managers need is management skills, both in terms of managing people and managing the overall project workflow. That’s why sales managers are excellent candidates for becoming project managers.
You’ll need to coordinate resources, both internal and external, develop detailed plans and manage their progress, measure project performance, and manage any changes to the project’s scope as it moves forward, among other management tasks. Emphasize your experience with these things in your resume.
Learn more about jobs in project management here.
Project Manager, Agora (Baltimore, MD)
Digital Project Manager, Kohactive (Chicago, IL)
Digital Project Manager, Closed Loop (Roseville, CA)
Digital Project Manager, GLOW Digital Agency (New York, NY)
Psst! Want up-to-date job listings delivered to your inbox each week? Sign up for our free job listings newsletter to get hand-picked job openings via email.
Journalist → Content Marketing
If you’re a journalist, you’ve probably spent your career creating compelling written content. You can easily convert those news-writing skills into content marketing skills.
And in all likelihood, you’ve spent at least some of your career in recent years working with social media and online promotion as more and more news outlets branch out into online content. That gives you a big advantage over others who don’t have experience writing professionally.
Check out a day in the life of a content marketing manager here.
Architect → Web Designer
Good design is good design. It doesn’t matter if that design comes to life in the form of skyscrapers (or custom homes) or websites and web apps. The principles are very similar.
If you have a background in architecture, you’ll just need to learn the specific tech skills relevant to website design, and how to apply your existing design theory knowledge to a different medium.
Check out this interview with Brian Hoff to see what being a web designer is really like.
Engineer → Web Developer
Engineers are all about solving problems. Often within a strict set of rules that need to be adhered to. And guess what? So are web developers!
Programming websites and apps is one giant exercise in problem-solving, from coming up with the best solution for your users to finding the best way to create that solution to troubleshooting bugs along the way. The skills you developed as an engineer will certainly serve you as a developer. Be sure to talk about problems you found solutions to in your resume.
Download The Beginner’s Guide to Landing a Junior Developer Job for more info about exactly what you need to know to move into a career as a web developer.
Front-end Web Developer, Out of the Box (Ottawa, Ontario)
Intermediate Web Developer, Hop Studios (Vancouver, British Columbia)
Rails Developer, Grok Interactive (Remote U.S.)
Full Stack Developer (PHP,Symfony2, JS, Clojure, Scala), Owsy (Remote)
Small Business Owner → Product Manager
Product managers have to think strategically in order to anticipate patterns and potential opportunities in the future and act on them in a way that gives the best advantage. They also need to be super organized and able to wrangle information, both about the product and about their competition.
Small business owners usually have all of those skills! If you’ve owned your own business (even something like a home party business!), then you likely have tons of experience thinking strategically, gathering information about your market and competition, and keeping yourself organized.
Those are super vital skills for product managers, who are in charge of the vision and strategy for a company’s products and services.
Find out more about what a project manager does here.
Teacher → Content Marketer
Teachers are in charge of creating instructional content constantly. The best teachers have to create content that’s not only informative, but also compelling and engaging if they want their students to actually learn things.
That’s pretty much what a content marketer does! You spend your days creating information products that are compelling and engaging enough to convince consumers to make a purchase. Emphasize those aspects of your experience when you’re applying for jobs!
Learn more about becoming a content marketer here.
Content Marketing Manager, Integrated Computer Solutions (Bedford, MA)
Nurse → Web Development Team Leader
Web development team leaders (sometimes also called Senior Web Developers) manage teams of developers generally working on more complex apps and websites. They need to have development skills, sure, but more importantly, they need to have excellent problem-solving and people skills.
That’s why anyone with experience as a nurse has a leg up over the competition after these jobs. Nurses spend their days managing people (often dealing with very difficult patients, plus keeping their colleagues happy and working as a team). They also spend their days solving problems, particularly interpersonal problems. Much like a team leader does!
Check out more about what they do in this StackOverflow conversation.
Administrative Assistant → Content Marketer
Content marketers have to be excellent communicators. They also have to stay super organized in order to best manage all of the content they have to create, publish, and promote.
Administrative assistants are often in charge of creating communications for their bosses, as well as keeping everything organized, scheduled, and running smoothly. This makes them excellent content marketers, especially if they’ve had a hand in helping out with sales or PR copy in the past.
The Content Marketing Institute includes some great information about getting started as a content marketer.
Digital Marketing Assistant, Better Chains (Long Beach, CA)
Content Marketing Specialist, Swipely (Providence, RI)
Marketing & Content Specialist, TrakRef (Brentwood, TN)
Social Media & Content Marketing Manager, Baesman (Columbus, OH)
Want more advice for making a transition into tech? Complete your own career path worksheet to find out how to use tech to upgrade YOUR career in The Ultimate Guide to Turning Your Passion Into Profit! You’ll get 30+ pages of tips for pinpointing YOUR most valuable skills and how to package them to your advantage, a step-by-step worksheet for finding the path that’s right for you, plus a roadmap for building a career with tech skills.
Here’s the thing: there are TONS of jobs out there outside of tech that can set you up with really great skills that you can use to find an awesome tech job. Spend some time looking over the job descriptions of tech jobs and figure out how your existing skills fit the bill. And to get those all-important tech-specific skills, check out our free Tech Term Bootcamp or one of our Career Blueprints!