The UK tech industry has experienced unparalleled investment in recent times. It offers more jobs, higher salaries, and increased opportunities for development and typically provides employees with a values-led culture. What’s more, demand for digital workers is outrunning supply, with UK companies constantly on the lookout for technical and digital natives to plug the skills gap. There’s never been a better time to get into tech. If you’re wondering how to launch your career in this exciting space, our guide will steer you through your first steps.
Explore which is the best tech role for you
First of all, think about what will set you apart in the tech industry. Will it be your analytical thinking, your adaptability or your dazzling creativity? Perhaps you’re a whizz at APP usability or have a talent for spotting data trends. Most roles in tech require logic and reasoning skills but there’s a huge diversity of positions today, all requiring different capabilities. Take a deep dive into the roles that could be a good fit for you.
Here’s some popular tech roles to consider:
If statistics, mathematics and data grab your attention, then a career in data analysis could be an option. Given the responsibility of studying, collecting and analysing data, analysts provide business trends and insights to help improve performance. You need an aptitude for interpreting data, problem-solving and taking a logical approach. If you’re a graduate in mathematics or computer science this is a good starting point, although there are other professional programs and self-study routes you can take.
UX and UI designer
If you’re fascinated by the user interface and experience of apps and websites a role as a UX or UI designer may be the perfect fit. You’ll need a handle on what makes for an intuitive user experience, an eye for aesthetics and be able to think both creatively and technically. You’ll need knowledge of functional designs and an understanding of customer behaviour. Employers are usually looking for experience in interface design, Photoshop and other design software. Some hiring managers want candidates who are proficient in one or more programming languages.
Cyber security professional
Working in cyber security is varied, interesting, and helping protect against cybercrime means it is often fulfilling. Tasked with protecting systems, networks and sensitive business data, cyber security professionals may work in forensics, application security, data loss prevention, incident response and more. You will need knowledge of, and proficiency in a number of areas, including; systems administration, AI, Cloud security and working across numerous operating environments. Fundamentally, you will need good communication skills, and high attention to detail.
Artificial Intelligence professional
If you enjoy developing new ways of working, embrace change and have a willingness to learn, a career in AI is a potential path. As an emerging field in tech, more and more job opportunities are arising, and not just at Amazon, IBM and Facebook. Vacancies for AI researchers, machine learning engineers and robotic scientists are increasing across all sectors, with many businesses keen to improve performance with AI-powered solutions.
A final tip on choosing your first tech role
For all jobs in the tech industry, you will need to develop and present both the technical and transferable skills necessary for each role. Many, if not all require problem-solving abilities, as well as communication and teamwork skills. As a fast-moving sector, tech hiring managers are also looking for candidates who can adapt to change and have a hunger to learn and grow.
Whatever area you are considering, begin by talking to industry professionals, and by reading respected tech journals, newsletters and websites. Learning from those who work in the tech industry can help you understand further what skills are essential and how they are used in the industry.
Top tech roles for non-tech types
While there is an ever-growing need for tech professionals, the tech industry isn’t just looking for candidates fluent in Java, C-language or PHP. They also need teams to help grow their company sales departments, legal divisions, finance, marketing functions, and more. Here are some of the best options for a rewarding career in digital tech, all without having to code.
How about technology marketing roles?
Technology has created a whole new range of marketing roles aimed at digital channels. Social media managers and online community managers didn’t exist 10 years ago and now they’re some of the highest-priority positions. If you’re a digital native with a passion for communication and social media – this could be your calling.
Social media manager
You act as the brand on social media sites, writing posts, creating content, promoting the company and responding to comments in the brand’s voice.
You act as an individual engaging with customers to raise awareness of the brand. You speak in your own voice and you build excitement around the company.
Digital marketing manager
You develop and implement marketing campaigns to build brand online awareness, grow traffic to your website and create customer leads.
One of the most accessible entry routes for non-tech candidates or graduates is the sales team. Every established or start-up tech company has one, and most will offer comprehensive training, so you don’t need to be a sales pro when you start. As a salesperson, you need to be confident, resilient and ambitious. You should also be able to spot new opportunities, answer technical and product-related questions and possess good interpersonal skills.
How about law and technology roles?
Technology is one of the most exciting industries to flex your legal prowess with patents, copyrights and intellectual property. You’ll also have plenty of opportunities if you’re interested in criminal law, with cybercrime and data breach cases on the rise. Technology law covers the specialist spectrum from contracts and commercial, to IP as well as the rapidly evolving area of data protection regulation.
Finance and tech roles
Financial institutions invest millions in their tech departments, and Fintech is one of the biggest areas of development in the technology start-up sector.
Investment banks are seriously invested in technology. JP Morgan employs 40,000 techs globally and Goldman Sachs is a ‘technology company’ according to its CEO, Lloyd Bankfein. But you don’t have to join their IT department to jump on board. Tech-powered trading floors and investment platforms are central to their strategies.
Fintech start-ups: Merge your love of finance, technology and entrepreneurialism at one of the hundreds of Fintech start-ups popping up all over the UK. Over £1bn has already been invested in financial disruptors this year. Fintechs, like the ones listed below, need graduates to fill business analyst, product management, and sales and marketing roles.
Some top UK Fintech companies
- Monzo: banking that lives on your smartphone
- TransferWise: transparent and cheap global money transfers
- Nutmeg: online investing on your mobile
- Receipt Bank: the paperless future of bookkeeping
- Iwoca: simple access to capital for small businesses
Recruitment technology roles
Technology recruitment combines it all, through technology, sales, resources, marketing and finance, giving you broad experience of the whole sector. And, with the technology industry growing at its current rate, there’s never been a better time to join its recruitment arm – with more jobs and investment than ever before. Look for a recruitment company that offers hands-on experience working with both tech start-ups and big companies.
Next steps to finding your first tech role
Once you’ve identified where your tech interests lie, it’s time to consider the next steps to get your tech career off the ground. Here are your next steps:
Pursue a qualification
While there are several tech jobs available that don’t require a bachelor’s degree, earning one in a related field may help you appeal to potential tech industry employers. Many colleges also provide vocational programs that offer certifications for various skills, like data security, engineering and project management.
Tip: Research different colleges and websites to learn about the certifications, degrees and intensive training courses that best support your career development.
Build your professional network
When you connect with others who share similar interests in the tech industry, you’re building your professional network. Attending local conferences, contributing to online tech forums and talking to local professionals are all effective methods to expand your tech industry connections. These introductions can play a vital role in securing a career in technology because they give you opportunities to collaborate with others and gather helpful industry information, such as job listings, CV advice and tips from experienced individuals.
Tip: Don’t just rely on job ads to get your feelers out for the top roles. Networking is great when it comes to getting your name out there, even if you’re a newcomer. Your university careers hub is a great place to start building relationships.
Create a strong, customised CV
When you apply for tech industry jobs, review the descriptions of the open positions that interest you. This helps you understand the requirements and important aspects of the role. It also gives you the opportunity to customise your CV to appeal to hiring managers. Each company, job and hiring process is unique, and adjusting your CV for each role can help differentiate you from other candidates.
Tip: Consider including specific skills, tools and programs that you’re familiar with. If a company uses a resume scanning program, keywords can increase the likelihood of the program selecting your details for further review.
Seek a mentor
Having a mentor can give you a distinct advantage in your career development because they impart their professional skills, provide industry knowledge and give you tips to aid your success. Many mentors offer support, advice and encouragement to guide you towards a rewarding career in tech, and you can learn valuable techniques from those with years of first-hand experience.
Tip: When seeking a mentor, consider searching for someone who’s open-minded and willing to make suggestions. These qualities create a collaborative learning environment for you and your mentor, which strengthens both your skills and relationship.
Understand your salary prospects
In the first steps of any career, you’ll want to know what to expect salary-wise. One of the UK tech industry’s biggest pulls is the higher-than-average salaries. Digital salaries outstrip non-digital salaries by an impressive 51.3%, with digital based roles earning an average £36,300 compared to the UK average of £24,000.(Source) While you may not be starting out on a high salary, it’s important to consider the trajectory of your pay as you progress in your career.
Which tech role commands the highest salary?
Those working in Data often command the highest salaries in digital. As businesses rely more on the power of data, database and business intelligence architects are claiming the biggest pay cheques, with an average salary of up to £68K. This is followed closely by IT security pros; a reflection of the increasing risk of cybercrime.
Software developers are typically those most in demand, making up around 9% of UK tech jobs and can expect a salary of around £64,318. (Source) Others receiving high salaries are Java developers and IT systems architects who can expect a salary range between approximately £80,000 to £93,000 per year. (source).
Consider an internship
If you’re a graduate, a tech internship can be a good route. A placement like this, gives you the chance to put your knowledge into practice, gain transferrable skills, acquire real-life work examples to demonstrate to a prospective employer, and in some cases, can line up a future role.
However, getting an internship can feel a challenge, with fierce competition for coveted places and sometimes thousands of applicants. Internships don’t always don’t always lead to full-time jobs either, so it’s helpful to view them as an opportunity to gain experience.
Tips on getting an internship
- Pick the right opportunity by researching companies of interest, and practise your interview technique.
- Internship opportunities often open months ahead so start looking now and find out application deadlines to avoid disappointment
- Look at a company’s approach to pay. Unpaid internships are not as common now and approaches to pay differ among companies.
If you can’t get an internship, remember that many graduates still get full-time work without one. Even if your experience is limited to voluntary work, you can still talk about teamwork, prioritising workloads and customer service. Paid work of any type proves you are reliable and trustworthy. A combination of work experience with some extracurricular activities while studying will make you a more rounded and attractive candidate than someone who has just done their degree, plus a short internship. Look at the possibility of an internship if one is available, but don’t discount other opportunities too.
Know your tech industry facts
If you’re interested in a tech career, it’s worth knowing key facts about the industry. Your knowledge will impress hiring managers at interview stages too. Clue up on the latest data and insights and be ready to discuss. There’s lots of examples in this guide but you can also talk about the fact that the UK tech sector reached $1 trillion in value in early 2022, (source) putting it way ahead of many European peers. Or, that you are aware of the record levels of regional growth in 2021, and the fact that tech investment grew 2.3 times in 2021. (source)
Benefits of working in the tech industry
You already know that a career in tech is diverse, well paid and offers lots of interesting opportunities, but in case there’s any doubt, here’s some more reasons why securing a role in the tech industry is well worth it.
There’s lots of jobs
Tech hiring continues to increase. Tech roles account for 14% of job opportunities in the UK, a leap of 11% from 2019. Between January and May 2022, job openings peaked with around 870,000 tech and digital vacancies. And remember, you don’t have to code to get a career in the industry. There are loads of non-techy jobs in technology that can offer the same above-average pay. Some of the most sought-after skills in the tech sector are those with management and communication skills.
Happiness in the workplace is a priority
Tech firms often rank high in the best workplace cultures – with many recognising the importance of a happy, inspiring and supportive atmosphere. Roles in tech can be challenging, but this is growth. Without growth, you’ll risk becoming stagnant, and stagnancy is no bueno if you want to learn and progress. Also, the trend in tech is “employee-first”, with more and more companies demonstrating their commitment to staff well-being.
Tech is varied and exciting
From data analysts and web developers to digital marketing managers and computer forensics experts, the list of what you can do in tech – and what kind of company you can do it in – is endless. Tech is continually changing and as a result, you’re likely to develop new skills and interests, and in an often more meritocratic environment than traditional firms, your voice will be heard
The world is your oyster
Not only do all types of companies need all types of tech specialists, but so does every single country across the globe. Policy-makers and organisations are actively promoting tech roles to a wider diversity of candidates, and remote working is opening doors too with around 21.6% of roles in IT advertised as remote.
Tech opportunities are not exclusive to capital cities either. The UK Government recently announced a list of cities in its New Levelling Up Power Tech League. Cambridge led the way, with Manchester second and Oxford, Edinburgh, Bristol and Leeds making the top six. In 2022, close to $9bn of all Venture Capital invested went to start-ups and scale-ups outside of London and the South East. (source).
You’ll be at the forefront of new developments
Tech companies are usually the first to learn about product launches, as they have to be constantly up to speed on industry developments. The cool thing about this is that there’s never a dull moment. Being #OnTrend will only keep you on your toes. Digital and tech are at the forefront of our ever-evolving world – and the possibilities for innovation are infinite.
There’s room for progression
When looking for any new role, you should be considering the future of the industry you are interested in. Most tech companies grow faster than they can really keep up with. This is usually a good thing for you, because it allows for faster promotions and salary increases.
A career in tech can provide you with employment stability, career progression and a healthy remuneration package. It also offers diversity and scope to develop new and existing tech skills. Your first steps should be to get to know the tech industry and research the full spectrum of potential job roles. Along the way, begin identifying specific areas of interest and how your skills and qualifications match. You might need to gain more experience or pick up a new skill in certain areas. Along with preparing your CV and considering potential interview questions, all these steps form the groundwork in helping you secure a promising future in a very promising sector.