3 Ways Women Can Transition Successfully into Tech Roles

Liz Alton

Jobs in technology are always in demand. Whether you’re considering transitioning to software development or honing your skills for an elite cybersecurity role, a career change in tech offers women a number of benefits. There are more than 700,000 unfilled tech jobs in the U.S. today, which offers both job security and the ability to transition roles. These jobs also tend to pay more, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with the median salary for technology roles being more than twice the national median average for non-tech roles. Ready for a career change, but don’t have a background in technology? Don’t worry. There are plenty of options for women to consider when making the leap into a technology career.

Coding Bootcamps: A Fast Track to Software Engineering

In today’s business landscape, not every job requires a four-year degree—especially if you have training in another field. Companies that urgently need access to coders, software engineers, and workers in related fields like technical writing wanted faster ways to train eager potential employees. That desire gave rise to the popularity of coding bootcamps. Coding bootcamps are part-time or full-time opportunities that offer fast, focused training in coding, software development, and related skills. Some programs are entirely academic, while others have an internship or project component that can help you expand your expertise and build your resume. 

  • What to Expect: There are coding bootcamps located around the country. Most cost money, but some are free or offer tuition remission or sliding scale options. Typically, bootcamps require intensive class study and projects for hands-on learning, and many have an internship component. Once you’ve enrolled, you’ll be expected to go through coursework, produce content and projects, and potentially work with a client or complete an internship. The length of programs varies, from weeks to months, and different programs offer different levels of networking and job placement support. App Academy’s curriculum page provides a helpful overview of the kinds of subjects you’ll learn about.
  • Options to Consider: There are several coding bootcamp options on the market. Some are geared specifically to women; others are focused around supporting more general career transitions. When choosing a bootcamp, it’s important to think about what you want to learn, whether you’re looking for an immersion or part-time opportunity, and the networking and career options you’re hoping to access. SwitchUp has an excellent reference list of women-focused coding bootcamps that’s a great place to start your search.

Related: 5 Ways to Connect with Other Women in Tech

Returnship: Getting into Tech after You’ve Been Out of the Workforce

If you’ve been out of the workforce for a while, a returnship might be an option to consider. Whether you took time off for family obligations, a health crisis, or something entirely different, getting back onto the career track can be a challenge. Landing a job in an entirely new field while explaining a gap in your resume is doubly difficult. However, companies are increasingly realizing that mid-career professionals who are returning to work may be interested in in-demand tech, and offer their own company-sponsored programs to help you get there. 

  • What to expect: Typically, returnships or “return to work programs” focus on getting candidates hands-on experience working for big-name and mid-size technology companies. Often, you’ll be paid to work through a program that’s a mix of training, workplace orientation, mentorship, and hands-on project work. The duration ranges from 12 weeks to six months or more, depending on the program. At the program’s conclusion, you may be offered a job with the company, or you may have developed skills and connections to help you land a job at another organization.
  • Where to look: There are a plethora of different places where you can find returnship programs. Some non-profit organizations, such as Path Forward, work with companies to make these programs a reality. Finding a provider that’s active in your area can be a great way to identify programs to consider. You can also look directly for these opportunities with companies that interest you. For example, IBM’s Tech Re-Entry Program and the Intuit Again initiative offer a preview of what these opportunities look like.

Short-term Training: Preparation for a Range of Tech Roles

Perhaps you already work for an employer that’s willing to support you with a job change into tech, or you want to quickly build up skills for a technology role other than software engineering. UX engineer, data scientist, and cybersecurity expert are all career paths that training companies and colleges offer short-term training and certifications in. When time is of the essence, taking a focused program that focuses on fast-track career change training can be your best bet.

  • What to expect: Short-term training options are offered by a variety of educational institutions, from colleges and universities to specialized technology training companies. Across the board, you’ll find a few commonalities. The focus is exclusively on helping you develop one area of technology skills that relate to your job. Cutting out the fluff allows you to home in on the most relevant areas to your career and job search, while also developing alternate skills that can help bring more value to what you have to offer. 
  • Where to look: Companies like General Assembly (GA) are active in many major cities around the U.S., as well as offering online training. Their courses range from data science to cybersecurity. GA, and some other companies, offer a scholarship for female students that can help defray the costs of studying. There are a number of other companies that are active in this space, and you can search for them by city to find one near you or in an area where you’d like to relocate. Don’t forget to check colleges and universities for certification programs in your area of interest.

Changing careers into a tech role often requires learning opportunities—whether that’s in a classroom mastering a programming language or getting hands-on exposure to a tech project. If a four-year degree isn’t in your future, flexible learning opportunities, returnships, company-sponsored learning, and bootcamps all provide other ways to shore up your knowledge and land your dream job.

Liz Alton is a B2B technology and digital marketing writer and content strategist. She has worked with a variety of brands including Google, Twitter, Adobe, Oracle, and HP, and written for publications including Forbes. She is a regular contributor to Connected, Connection’s official blog.