Embrace Career Change With a Tech Apprenticeship


June 25, 2024


180 Engineering

The tech industry needs you.

There has never been a better time to switch to a career in the tech sector. Employers are scrambling to fill open roles in the face of unprecedented low unemployment rates, rapidly evolving tech, the increasing use of technology across all sectors, and the push to advance DEI goals.

To attract the talent that they need, employers are becoming more innovative. One current trend is the removal of degree requirements from job postings. Instead, employers are increasingly moving to skills-based hiring. In the past, job seekers without college degrees typically learned tech skills through boot camps and self-directed learning. But, increasingly, employers are offering apprenticeship programs for those seeking to develop tech skills on the job. While some of those programs require that applicants have basic coding skills and an understanding of programming languages, others accept applicants who have never coded before.

A career in tech can be exciting, dynamic, and lucrative. If you’re ready for a career shift, it may be time to look into tech apprenticeships.

Why Consider A Career In Tech?

Change can be a good thing. Whether you’re dissatisfied with your current job, seeking a better work/life balance, or looking for new challenges and ways to expand your knowledge and skill set, it might be time to shift your career path.

Because of the hard skills often required in the tech sector – such as coding and knowledge of programming languages – some people may shy away from considering tech when dreaming about a new job. Even if you could find the time and funding needed to attend a coding boot camp, until recently, most job postings in the tech sector required a college degree in a related field.

However, the tech sector has changed significantly in the last few years. First, technology is becoming ever-more ubiquitous and, as a result, critical to the success of almost every other industry. As new tech needs are identified, new roles – that don’t necessarily require coding expertise or knowledge of programming languages – are being created. There are now tech-based jobs in fields as diverse as:

  • Business;
  • Transportation;
  • Health care;
  • Education;
  • Finance;
  • Sales;
  • Media; and
  • Government.

Further, technology is an exciting and dynamic field, with a high demand for talent. As we outlined in a past blog, a career in technology may allow you to:

  • Earn a higher income, since unemployment across the sector is low and employers are competitive as they struggle to attract and retain talent;
  • Follow a flexible work schedule or pursue contract work that fits into your life schedule;
  • Achieve career security, given the high demand for tech workers; and
  • Contribute to meaningful change by participating in innovative projects.

Finally, employers in general – including those in the tech field – are moving away from college degree requirements and towards skills-based hiring. It’s easier than ever to shift into a tech career. Even a piece at CompTIA asserts that “the key ingredients to success in IT are excitement and willingness to learn. The technical skills you need can all be taught…”

What Is A Tech Apprenticeship?

Tech apprenticeships are not new but they are growing in popularity. As companies look for innovative ways to fill open roles with skilled workers and bridge the talent gap, they are increasingly understanding the value of tech apprenticeships.

Like any registered apprenticeship, a tech apprenticeship is a paid full-time job that focuses on hands-on learning. As outlined in a piece by Ximena Hartsock, “Apprentices are hired at will; start with a modest wage; and usually learn hands-on for 2,000 hours, or about 1 year. Registered apprenticeships must meet Department of Labor (DOL) standards to ensure the program can produce a software developer, data scientist, cybersecurity specialist, etc., with zero asterisks.”

The hands-on work is particularly useful because technology is so dynamic that theoretical knowledge sometimes falls short. The opportunity to work on actual projects with cross-functional teams, solve problems, and acquire practical skills all play an important part in knowledge acquisition.

Each apprenticeship is tailored to the specific area of tech that the apprentice is interested in as well as to current market needs. As a result, the chances of transitioning into a relevant full-time job are greatly enhanced after completing an apprenticeship.

While mentorship is an important part of any apprenticeship, traditional trades apprenticeships typically match up a mentor and a mentee on a one-on-one basis. In tech, however, work is typically done in teams and in cross-functional environments. For this reason, tech apprentices work in similar environments, collaborating with a team and a network of mentors.

One last note: because an apprenticeship is a paid position, it may be an easier way for workers to transition into the field. Traditional ways of learning require an investment of both time and money that may be difficult for mid-career professionals.

How To Find Your Perfect Tech Apprenticeship

Tech apprenticeships have been gaining traction in recent years as employers seek innovative ways to attract talent and bridge the skills gap. Many of the world’s biggest tech companies offer apprenticeship opportunities, including Google, Airbnb, and Microsoft. However, it may take some research to uncover the best apprenticeship program for you.

As you start looking for apprenticeship opportunities, keep these tips in mind:

Define Your Interests And Career Goals

To find the apprenticeship program that is the best fit for you, start by looking at your interests and career goals. What areas of tech interest and excite you? If the field of tech is a blank page for you, consider attending workshops or taking online courses to explore different areas of specialization. Some of these offerings may even be free, such as the ones at My Mooc.

Research Reputable Tech Apprenticeship Programs

While you can research tech apprenticeships online, also reach out to your network, contact the alumni association at your local college, and browse career fair listings to see if you can get recommendations for and reviews of relevant programs.

In addition to making sure that the apprentice program will be a good match for your interests, also consider the curriculum, the duration of the program, and the type of financial support provided to apprentices. Look or ask for reviews and testimonials from past apprentices.

Prepare Your Application

An application to an apprenticeship program is often very similar to a job application. Be prepared to fill out an application form provided by the company. You may also be required to submit a resume and cover letter and, in some cases, a portfolio of projects that you have worked on and that demonstrates your abilities and interests.

As you prepare your application, highlight your soft skills as these often indicate your ability to learn hard skills and be successful in the workplace.

And, as with any job application, make sure that you tailor each of your applications to the specific program that you apply for. While you may have a generic resume and cover letter to use as a template, it’s important to tailor those documents to demonstrate why you are a good fit for the specific program you are applying for.

Develop Your Tech Network

Even if you aren’t already employed in the tech field, some people in your existing network may be able to assist in your search for a tech apprenticeship. Work on further developing your network to include those who have insights into and connections in the tech field. Look for local industry events and career fairs, join online communities that are specific to the area of tech that you are interested in, contact the alumni association at your local college, and ask your existing network to offer introductions to tech professionals.

As well, if you are able to reach out to current or former apprentices in specific programs, it’s a terrific idea to ask about their experiences and suggestions for finding the kind of apprenticeship you are hoping for.

Stay Committed And Open-Minded

Any kind of significant career change can have its challenges. Seeking out and getting accepted to a tech apprenticeship might not be easy. But the tech field has many exciting careers and persevering will be worth your while. Embrace the process. Be open to having new experiences, meeting new people, and working with the feedback you receive along the way. Do your best to stay positive and open-minded so that you will be able to navigate the process more easily and enjoy this journey on your career path.