If you heard of a field where job demand is growing, pay is high, and the opportunity for remote work is a big option, would you be intrigued? If so, this post will explain why tech could be a good option for you. You'll also get a general guideline so you can focus your efforts for the best results.

Starting In Tech: Why Tech Skills Can Benefit Your Life and How To Get Started

In Side Hustling, Technology by Matt Kuhn8 Comments

Making money is important, but making money in a way that gives you freedom and satisfaction is even better. 

If you heard of a field where job demand is growing, pay is high, and the opportunity for remote work is a big option, would you be intrigued? If so, this post will explain why tech could be a good option for you. You'll also get a general guideline so you can focus your efforts for the best results.

In this post, you’ll learn how building up your tech skills can immensely benefit you and your family. And for those of you interested, I’ll explain how to get started from zero.

I’m not going to be so bold as to say that everyone should go into technology. Some people hate it, and that’s fine. Others just happen to love what they’re already doing and that’s fine too. 

But technology skills aren’t only for finding a full-time job. They can help you make (and save) extra money on the side. 

And honestly, some of the things you can learn with tech are just plain awesome.

But enough opinions! If you’re on the fence about tech, here are some reasons you might choose to join the “nerds” of the world.

Why Tech Skills Will Benefit Your Life:

1. Rising Demand and Pay

Many jobs and skills are slowly becoming automated (some much faster than others). This automation creates a shift in demand toward people with technological skills. And as demand goes up – so does the money people are willing to pay for a particular skill-set.

In a study done by CareerCast (a jobs search website like Monster or Indeed), they found that the majority of the top in-demand jobs for 2017 were actually tech jobs.

As can be expected, the expected career growth for these jobs are high compared to other jobs. Median salaries were also pretty high. For example, median Network Security Engineer salaries have been predicted to be between $115,000 and $162,000 for 2017. That’s a 5.7% increase over 2016 salary levels. Other jobs titles have gone up even more compared to 2016.

For most people, working with technology is a skill for hire. People and companies would gladly pay someone to take care of their Information Technology (IT) needs before taking the time to learn it themselves. Specialization leads to an even greater pay increase.

Specialization and becoming THE expert in one area can lead to a much higher pay.Click To Tweet

That’s not to say that you couldn’t make more by being a doctor or lawyer. But for the other benefits you get aside from demand and pay, I’m sure you’ll find the pay plenty high enough.

2. Job Security

Like I mentioned above, the demand for skilled tech professionals is practically guaranteed to go up over time. This means that in the unlikely case where you are fired, or if you are trying to look for a new job somewhere else, there will always be other companies looking for people with your skills (assuming you have a good work ethic and all). 

On an even better note, once you’ve worked for a company for a certain period of time, the company will likely think twice before trying to let you go. Companies invest a lot of time and resources training their employees – time they’d rather not lose if they don’t have to.

Technology is also the backbone supporting operations in practically every company, meaning that layoffs are likely to affect other departments a little more heavily in typical situations.

If you’re a natural pessimist like myself, you might be thinking: “Technology is more of an umbrella term than a specific job or skill, and aspects of it are always changing. So what if I learn a certain skill like programming in C++ (a programming language), and then it becomes replaced by a newer language? How is that job security?”

For one thing, it’s unlikely that all your skills will become irrelevant at once. Second, it takes a very long time for skills in tech to become completely obsolete (COBOL is a programming language first designed in 1959 and is still used today!

Finally, anyone still working in the tech industry will tell you that it’s an industry where you’re constantly learning new things. I mean constantly. You have to in order to keep up with the fast-paced changes going on in the industry. That said, you become very good at learning. This ability to pick things up relatively quickly is what keeps you from having to worry about your job.

3. Working Remotely

If you’ve ever read the 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris, you have some sense of how freeing remote work can be. You start getting paid for the value you provide rather than the hours you’re spending at your desk. You’re also freed from the distractions that come from the more modern “open” work environment where everyone sits right next to each other. 

Oh yeah, and the commutes a lot shorter.

The awesome thing about most tech work is that it can be done remotely. There are whole communities around the idea of becoming “digital nomads” – individuals who use technology to work so that they can travel and/or just live more freely.

Obviously, this takes a little more discipline on your part as you’ll have to manage yourself to get your work done on time. Most companies may not allow complete remote work, but if you talk to your manager, he/she may have no issues with your spending a few days a week “working from home”.

Remote work is perfect if you’re an introvert or if you just want to spend more time around family. Or if you just don’t like the idea of having to commute to and from work just to sit behind a desk all day. Technology gives you options.

4. Inventing Is a Critical Part of Tech Life 

This may not matter as much to some of you, but I personally love being at the forefront of innovation. Not only do you get to work with the best and brightest of people, you get to be a part of the technology that will impact generations to come.

Even if you’re not working for the Tesla’s or Google’s of the world, innovation is present at even the smallest of companies. Tech people are always looking for ways to automate and make things more efficient.

I often find those tendencies slipping into my life at home as I try to find ways to automate repetitive tasks. I also have a huge list of possible inventions, all based on things I wished could be automated. I’ll probably never have time to actually implement most of them, but it’s just a part of that ‘inventing mindset’ that goes along with tech.   

5+. And It Just Keeps Getting Better

There are a ton of other benefits, some of which I’m sure I’ll miss:

  • It’s just fun. Technology lets you build and create things that didn’t exist before. From self-driving cars, to virtual reality headsets, to your favorite websites – for me, that’s what getting into tech is all about.
  • You’ll never get bored. Technology is always changing. That means that there are always new things to learn and experiment with! 
  • It’s a life skill. The technologies may change, you’ll learn how to pick them up quickly. When you do, you can be confident that no matter what happens, you have a skill that can make you money. Whether full time or on the side, that’s powerful stuff.
  • It’s usually a lot more casual. Where I work now, a lot of people come in wearing shorts and T-shirts. How many high-paying jobs can you think of that let you do that?! Even when I worked at Goldman Sachs, we still had a more relaxed dress code than the “ops” guys and gals.
  • You can practice most tech skills on your laptop. It’s not like other fields where you need expensive specialized equipment to get experience and practice your craft. And even if you did need equipment, prices usually range in the double to triple digits rather than the thousands.
  • A degree is not always required for a high-paying job. Although going to a certain college can definitely help get your foot in the door with companies, most hiring decisions are based on the skills you can demonstrate. This may be good or bad depending on your level of discipline.

I’m not going to go into every benefit in this post, but hopefully this short list has helped you realize the awesomeness that is technology. I hope you’re excited!

How Can YOU Start Enjoying the Benefits of The Tech Life?

I have some helpful steps to get you started with tech. But first, let’s go over what you don’t need to get into the field:

  • You don’t need to be a tech wiz right now. That’s why you’re here! For now, remove the phrases ‘I can’t’ or ‘I’m not smart enough’ from your vocabulary.
  • You don’t need to be “young”. Technology is a skill. All it takes is a practice and patience and anyone can get it.
  • You don’t need to be a male “nerd”. As the women at SkillCrush show, the tech field is just as much for the ladies as it is for the men. And you definitely don’t need to be a Dungeons and Dragons playing video gamer. I personally don’t play video games (and haven’t played D&D for days… 🙂 ). 

How To Get Started

Step One – Choose An Area of Tech to Focus On

Here’s the hardest part (in my opinion). Figure out what to focus on.

You could get into web development, software development, cyber security, app-building, network engineering, database architecting, machine learning, cloud architecting, and so on and so on. So what do you choose?

If you already have an idea of an area that sounds interesting, move on to step two.


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If not, it’s time to put on your reading glasses, because research you shall do! Seriously – do some Google searches on what each tech field is about! This is where college can come in handy. College gives you the time to explore and get a wide overview of the many different fields you can go into. If it’s a little too late for that, then just go with an area that peaks your interest – at least a little.

A big part of this decision will be based on your end goal. If you want to work remotely, you’ll probably want to get into programming. If you want above-average job security and pay, cyber security is a good choice. In the end, any tech job will pay decently so it’s really a matter of where your passions lie.

Remember, you’re not stuck in the first choice you make! Or the second or third! Tech people tend to move around to different things, often driven by the desire to learn more. 

Step Two – Figure Out the Specific Skills and Credentials You Need 

Let’s say you’ve decided on becoming a Network Engineer. There are a ton of things you could learn – subnetting, security, scripting languages, linux commands…but you only have so much time!

Maybe your goal is to be a freelance Web Developer. Again, lots of possibilities – JavaScript, Python, Ruby, Git, Angular, React, WordPress, etc.

Here’s what you do:

Go to a job site like Indeed, and search for a particular position you want. Let’s say “Junior Web Developer.” Then look for general requirements that a lot of them require. If there’s a particular company you’d like to work for, focus on that company’s requirements. 

Whatever is listed in the job posting are the skills you should spend most of your time on. 

If you’re doing this as a side hustle, to start a business, or just for fun, then figure out your end goal (See Step One) and work towards that.

Unless you’re just doing it for pure fun, the worst thing you can do is tinker with different technologies without a goal. Your memory is fleeting. So without applying what you’re learning to an actual project or goal, you’re not progressing towards anything.

Step Three – Learn the Basics

Time to get a base understanding of whatever it is you’ve chosen to do. Read a book on the subject, do online tutorials, watch YouTube videos. 

For areas like security and networking, I’ve found that trying to get a basic certification (CompTIA ones, for example) helps me have something to actually study towards. It also looks good on a resume or portfolio.

For programming, you can find really great comprehensive guides online and at the library. For example, Node Hero is a good one for learning NodeJS and Learn Python the Hard Way is an awesome guide to Python. Develop a high-level understanding of things like data structures, algorithms, and object-oriented programming. Nothing too fancy, but you should at least get comfortable reading simple code.


FREE BONUS: LIST OF FREE RESOURCS FOR LEARNING HOW TO PROGRAM

I know how hard it can be to figure where to start with something new. I’ve tried many different ways of learning programming over the years and I’ve made a little list of some of the better free resources I’ve found. Fill in your information below to get started!

YES, PLEASE!

Caveat to this – there comes a point where you have to stop learning and start earning! 

Some people study and study and never feel ready to actually do something with their knowledge! Just get the core fundamentals. The rest will only come through application.

Step Four – “Take Chances, Make Mistakes, Get Messy!”

Take a page from The Magic Schoolbus script! The fastest way to learn is really just to experiment. Learn by doing.

A programmer I watched a video of recently said that he likes to keep things as simple as possible. If not, his brain just doesn’t take action. So he does 25 tutorials in any one skill. It’s not “tutorials until I understand things,” it’s “25.” It can be repetitive, but that’s what helps it stick for him. Sometimes the concepts don’t really make sense until the 10th or 11th time doing them.

This is the fun stage! You start applying the basics you learned and expand your knowledge as you run into new things you’d like to do. What’s a fun project you could do? You don’t need to know how to do it yet. Google the crap out of your questions.

I love this xkcd comic about people others see as “tech geniuses”:

Although comical, it’s so true. Learn by trying things and see what works and what doesn’t.

Now Go Get More Skilled and Make Some Money!!

Although they’re general, these are really the steps I’ve seen people take to learn new skills in tech. They would probably work in any field, really. It starts with a clear goal and ends with learning by failing and failing by doing.

But the payoff for your efforts can be big. You can make more money, have more opportunities, and develop skills that make you employable in any circumstances.

So whether you want to get a full-time job, become a freelancer, start some other side hustle, or start a business around a tech idea – you have the knowledge to make it happen. 

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Comments

  1. Working in tech is definitely fun! I’m happy I get to make things every day for a living 🙂 Programming is a really creative task actually! I do still prefer making things for myself, it just feels different.

    The fact that tech changes so quickly actually stresses me out because sometimes I feel I’m not making things as much as I’m just trying to keep up, and I do feel lucky that I can pretty much change jobs whenever/not worry finding another job, but I wonder frequently how long this type of job security will last!

    1. Author

      I’m so glad you commented – it’s great to hear perspectives from people already living the tech life!

      That’s definitely a valid point and one I’ve felt too. It seems like once you’ve mastered one technology, there’s another ‘great new thing’ out there that the newer programmers are using. Luckily, bigger companies seem to take awhile to adopt the newest technologies (usually for security reasons), so the skills never become fully obsolete.

      Job security is never 100%, but I think that tech is a field where it’s above average. Like you said, it’s important to keep your skills up to date. In terms of tech work out there though, it just seems to be growing. But I guess it depends on the type of tech work you’re doing, where you live, etc.

      Great insight – thanks for stopping by, Jing!

  2. I’m FIREd now but before I FIREd I was a Software Developer mostly in .Net and Java. It’s definitely a great way to make a good living and for many, many years I loved what I did.

    One of the things I loved about it was that I was always learning new things. In fact, if you want to go into Tech you better like learning because you have to learn all the time just to stay current.

    1. Author

      That’s awesome! I definitely think that there’s some sort of connection between the logical thinking it takes to program and the pursuit of FI. Plus the salary of a developer can’t hurt how fast one reaches it.

      The love of learning also seems to be a common trait among tech people. One guy I work with loves buying books on any subject he’s interested in and I’m sure he’s read most of them. That’s a good point – if you don’t’ like learning new things, tech may not be the field for you.

  3. Ohh I find tech so frustrating! I’m usually try to solve my own issues but it’s like going down a rabbit warren. At one point I was interested in learning more, but the vastness of the options has me boggled. But it is empowering when I *actually* manage to fix something.

    1. Author

      Haha oh trust me, I find it frustrating too. Especially when you spend hours on something that could have taken just a few minutes had you known what to do. But there’s something addictive about the times you finally get everything working 🙂

      Tech is definitely a big industry – there’s web development, network engineering, network architecting, security, app development, database administration, and the list goes on and on. That’s part of why I find it fun, you’re never just stuck in one area! Like with anything, you just gotta pick a field, learn all you can, and realize that you can change your mind if you don’t like it. But tech definitely isn’t for everyone, we all have our interests and that’s what makes the world great!

  4. If I can give advice to any young people heading off to college, I’d say go into something that has to do with AI and machine learning, or something like nano-tech. This is where the world is heading within the next 20 years. Thanks for sharing Matt!

    1. Author

      I couldn’t agree more. AI and ML help make and save bigger companies a ton of money, so I only see it being advanced further as the years go by. I think your post on automation and a universal basic income was pretty spot on. Now we just await the singularity… 🙂

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