Do you need a degree to work in tech?

By Danny Aspinall

New research suggests majority of tech professionals don’t believe a college degree is essential 

The subject of the tech skills gap remains a hot topic of conversation in both tech and wider business circles, with Fortune recently reporting on how the gap may well widen if uptake of tech careers continues to remain low amongst Gen Z. And in a context where traditional paths to professional careers via a college degree are less reliable than in the past, not to mention increasingly costly, it may be worth revisiting the conversation around whether a college degree is really a prerequisite for a tech job. 

Unpacking and analyzing recent data from a survey of more than 3000 tech professionals across the spectrum of cloud ecosystems, Jefferson Frank, a Tenth Revolution Group company, has discovered that attitudes towards college degrees are considerably less strict than perhaps anticipated – given the technical, scientific, and mathematical understanding that tech work often entails. If a college degree isn’t integral to a tech career in 2023, there’s tremendous scope to shift the landscape in a positive and more inclusive direction – and to address the skills gap along the way. 

Here are the key findings from the research: 

  • 55% of cloud tech professionals said that having a degree was not an important factor in finding a role in the ecosystem they currently work in 
  • Only 33% of cloud tech professionals believe a degree is important for working in tech more generally 
  • Just 1% of cloud tech professionals have received no form of higher education (eg. beyond high school) 

 

Jefferson Frank Chairman & CEO James Lloyd-Townshend commented: “It definitely feels like progress to see that just a third of tech professionals would insist that you need a degree to pursue a career in tech right now. This really should mean that tech jobs and certification pathways become more accessible to those who haven’t attended college. Similarly, the majority feeling that having a degree hasn’t been decisive in their journey is a good sign in terms of attitudes, and even company cultures – but there’s an obvious tension when considering that the percentage of current tech professionals without a degree is so low. This means we absolutely have to be working to expand inclusion and access to opportunities within the tech space for those who haven’t been to college. And in the context of the digital skills gap, we truly cannot afford not to be pursuing and supporting this untapped talent pool.” 

  

Methodology 

Statistics were derived from the latest (2022-2023) Careers & Hiring Guides offered by Tenth Revolution Group and its recruitment brands. The total sample size for this study was 3278 and included tech professionals working across Amazon Web Services, Salesforce, Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Business Applications.

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