This blog post was inspired by an episode of the Jess Get Hired podcast, where Damien Filiatrault, CEO and Founder of Scalable Path, shares his valuable insights and experiences in the remote talent industry. Since founding Scalable Path in 2010, the company has amassed a freelance network of over 30,000 software developers in 178 countries.
Technology is constantly evolving. Because of the growth of the industry and the rapid development of new technologies, it’s unlike most industries in that you can start your career at any age if you’re just willing to learn and grow.
In today’s digital age, technology permeates every aspect of our lives, creating a high demand for skilled software engineers that continues to skyrocket. In this post, we’ll explore the dynamic and ever-evolving world of technology and provide guidance for aspiring software developers on the path to a successful career.
Is 2023 the Right Time to Build a Career in Tech?
You might wonder: Is 2023 the right time to break into this industry? If you’re unsure, you’re not alone: the tech sector has been significantly impacted during the economic downturn. Late-stage startup valuation has been dropping, and many of the household tech companies we know – Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Amazon, for example – have been going through very public layoffs and/or hiring freezes. Between Q1-2022 and Q2-2023, over 325,000 people were let go from big tech companies, many of whom were software developers.
Despite that, there’s still a shortage of skilled technical labor in the U.S. Software supports 90% of all operations at almost every firm, but there aren’t enough technical workers to meet the market’s demands. It’s estimated that only 65 of every 100 technical positions are filled. This number is even higher in emerging fields like cybersecurity and AI.
As the skills gap grows, employers of mid-size companies and startups are looking not just throughout the U.S. for talent, but to global markets.
What are the main reasons people are interested in getting tech jobs?
According to a 2023 survey from Deloitte, compensation and career advancement potential topped the list of most important factors in their next role. Tech tends to offer a number of benefits not always found in other sectors.
Here are just a few of the reasons so many people are becoming interested in getting a job in tech:
• Most jobs are well paid
• It provides great job security
• A ton of flexibility when it comes to working remote
Along with that, there are a ton of professional development and quality-of-life perks. As technology evolves, you are constantly learning. Many tech companies offer great culture perks and have that young startup vibe. Companies literally can’t grow without technology, so it is a magnet for investment and it’s really not going anywhere. The future of technology is bright and sustainable.
But, if you’re a freelancer looking to secure a remote role in the tech sector, how can you get started? Below are some lessons from my own [Damien, CEO of Scalable Path] experience as a programmer, as well as through Scalable Path’s Developer network.
It’s never too late to start a career in computer science
Before starting as a programmer, I actually studied geography. After graduating, I worked in the wine business, sales, and various other roles. It wasn’t until my mid-to-late twenties that I thought, “where’s my career going?”
Around that time, a friend came to me and said, “Hey, I need help building this website.”
I agreed to help him. I had limited knowledge of programming at the time, but I thought this would be a good way to learn. Of course, it took me a long time. And I didn’t do it perfectly. But I found that I liked it, and I could do it.
I didn’t really get my career in technology going until I was about 30. And there is no reason that couldn’t have been much later in my life. You just have to have an interest in the area and an ability to learn new things.
Look into “Recession-Proof” Fields
While the current economic climate and tech layoffs might scare you, they shouldn’t. The tech sector will continue to expand, particularly in key areas. As stated previously, software development is an extremely fast-growing field in the U.S.
One survey showed that the most sought-after tech positions in the U.S. are web development and DevOps. But check out our chart below for the rankings of all programming roles. Also take into account that with the advancement of AI technologies in the past six months, machine learning and data science positions are on the rise.
Some “recession-proof” fields include those that are at the cutting edge or emerging; this includes fields like cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and cloud architecture. Roles that aren’t specific to developers and designers are growing in demand, too, including tech support and financial analysis.
Remember every organization relies heavily on and is driven by technology. So although we’re seeing layoffs, tech is still the hottest career to get into. The risk is definitely worth the reward in the long run.
Looking to develop a new skill? Consider new and hot technologies (like AI)
Because technology is such a fast-moving industry, like even developers who have been coding for 10-15 years will see new technologies come out and find their current skill set just isn’t sufficient.
The explosion of AI and ML in 2023 is a pivotal example. AI involves developing computer systems capable of human-like intelligence, while machine learning focuses on enabling computers to learn and optimize their functionality through vast amounts of data. AI technologies are becoming integral to everyday life: ChatGPT, voice assistants, and even high-tech kitchen appliances has marked this massive shift. Machine learning jobs have surged by nearly 75% over the past four years, making it one of the most sought-after AI careers with promising prospects for the future.
The demand for qualified AI professionals surpasses that of data scientists and is expected to grow further, creating numerous opportunities for aspiring individuals in this transformative field.
AI is not, of course, the only field experiencing growth. But breaking into one of these fields makes it clear that continuous learning is key to any programmer’s development. By researching what’s new and learning frameworks or systems that are starting to become widely used, you can be just as good as the people who have been programming for years, because they don’t know the technology or just learned it, too.
Determine your learning style and start learning
There are so many different ways to learn about software development. Post-secondary education is only one of the options, though this isn’t always feasible, nor is it always a desirable option for developers who are perhaps later in their career. Online tutorials, bootcamps, and tools can also be beneficial ways to start your journey.
It doesn’t really matter how you learn, but what you learn. In our experience, most employers don’t actually care about your education or credentials. They care more about whether an individual can actually do the work.
If you’re interested in finding some resources for learning, a developer from our network wrote a post on online learning platforms and resources. This article will also help you answer some questions to help you find the right resources for you, like:
• What’s your preferred learning approach or learning style?
• Do you like reading text or do you prefer watching videos?
• Do you prefer learning a more theoretically about software development, or do you run and work on more like applied examples?
• Is interaction with instructors and peers important to you or are you more of an independent learner?
While the tech industry is going through another period of adjustment and re-structuring after Big Tech went through massive layoffs in Fall 2022 and Spring of 2023, the industry is still in despeate need of highly skilled labour. Having an online presence, storefront, product or service is imperative to operating any successful business now–and tech skills are highly sought after. It doesn’t matter how old you are, where you’re life has taken you, as long as you have a willingness to learn new skills and evolve your career, you can break into tech at any point.