Lifestyle advantages of a career in digital
Why a career in digital is entirely attainable
Some senior salary examples for digital careers
What career tracks could I pursue in digital?
Types of jobs that can be found in the world of tech
General advice for your career in tech
How to get your career in digital started?
Further reading

Someone recently asked me about switching career paths and getting into the world of tech and digital marketing. I began to type them an email, “publicly writing about topics in technology is a fantastic way of learning and sharing…”, it was at this point I realized I should be heeding my own advice. So using the sum of my experiences to date, here is direction I would give to anyone looking to move into a career in tech.

Me and an ex had conflicting ideas about what the fundamental hobbies of our offspring might be. She saw them running around outdoors, playing in fields, and climbing trees. While I saw them opening a Raspberry Pi on their fifth birthday and configuring it to control the home surveillance system. Our incongruity stemmed from a conflicting perspective, she saw my vision for children with the kids staying indoors, being terribly unfit, and awfully pasty and void of physical attributes. Whereas I saw something like this:

Coding will be the most important skill in the future”

I didn’t have to read it anywhere else though, I’ve seen it in my working life for the last 10 years. Understanding code and its application to commerce is one of the most marketable skill sets one can possess in 2021. It also provides numerous possible lifestyle advantages over some more traditional lines of work – many of which have been greatly highlighted following the last year of working through a global pandemic.

Lifestyle advantages of a career in digital

  • Remote working – the ability to be able to work from anywhere in the world with a power outlet and an internet connection is an incredibly attractive proposition and with advances in connectivity like 5G and internet speeds getting faster each year, remote working capabilities will only get better
  • Setting your own hours – this one isn’t always true but, in contrast to a traditional physical location based 9 to 5, working from a computer each day means more flexibility with your time, especially the higher up the ladder you go
  • No commuting – not much to say here… commuting is a plague on contemporary society (I live in LA)
  • Less physically strenuous – as we get older, physically strenuous jobs become more difficult and more autonomy over physical activity becomes more desirable

At this point you might be thinking, is this really something that I can achieve? You 100% can and here’s why.

Why a career in digital is entirely attainable

  • The distance between what you know now and what you need to know will be bridged with just a laptop and an internet connection (and a fervorous determination)
  • A college degree is not a prerequisite – it’s not even required (but again, passion, skill, demonstrable experience, and perseverance is)
  • Everything you need to learn exists in a magical place called the world wide web (even elite courses from Ivy League schools that would typically cost thousands of dollars)
  • The same place where you research and learn is the place where you demonstrate what you have learnt

Could this be for you? Let’s take a look at some of the senior salaries for some of the career paths we will be looking at:

Give me some senior salary examples for digital careers

Data taken from GlassDoor (May 2021).

  • Senior Front End Developer – $105,436 / yr
  • Director Of Web Development – $112,139 / yr
  • Director Of Content Marketing – $124,417 / yr
  • Director Of Digital Marketing – $114,728 / yr
  • Design Director – $136,256 / yr
  • Data Scientist Director – $164,712 / yr

Not bad considering you can work from the beach and just exert a few taps of the keyboard each day ; )

There is always more to be learned in every industry but in particular it feels like that’s the case in tech. Your drive and desire to understand and to learn will be the most important asset in your new career path. Let’s take a look at these different tracks in a little more detail and outline what they entail.

What career tracks could I pursue in digital?

Career Track What types of specific job roles? Primary job expectation (in a sentence) Skill prerequisites to undertake role
Digital Marketing SEO, Content, PPC, Social Media, Display, Affiliate, Influencer, Mobile, Video, App, Analytics To deliver online growth for your business / clients.
  • Communication
  • Commercial comprehension
  • Creativity / problem solving
  • In depth platform knowledge
Development Front-end, Back-end, Full stack (both), Middle-tier, App, Security, Crypto, Games, Dev-ops, Big Data To build incredible, functioning, digital applications.
  • Coding (JavaScript, Python, PHP, SQL, etc.)
  • Problem solving
  • Attention to detail
Design Graphic, Animation, Games, UX (user experience), UI (user interface) Product, Video, Branding To design and create beautiful and easy to use digital mediums.
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Adobe suite (Photoshop, Premiere Pro)
  • Contemporary trend comprehension
Data Science Machine Learning, Applications, Business Intelligence, Statistician, Data Engineer, Data Analyst To build, organize, and showcase compelling narratives from huge data sets.
  • Coding (Python, Java)
  • Statistics
  • Machine learning
  • Data wrangling
  • Data visualization

Many would say that these skills also bleed into one another and that is very much true. Understanding what businesses want is a huge part of understanding the requirements of the above skills in the pursuit of commercial gain. This is especially true for work within a brand or agency which is where you would be likely to find a full time position.

This isn’t the limit and there are many nuanced specialisms that exist, but the above list provides a pretty good idea of the types of tech jobs that exist in 2021. If you’re starting from scratch then picking one of the above topics may seem daunting but, lower down the ladder, you’re in the unique position of being able to learn a bit about each before you make your decision. As a side note, there are very few people who can call themselves experts in all the above.

Types of jobs that can be found in the world of tech

  • Agency work – operating within a business that manages numerous other business’s digital requirements (marketing, development, design, etc.)
  • Brand / client-side work – working directly for a brand (e.g. Apple, Adobe) to do “in house” work for that one brand (again, this could be marketing, development, design, etc.)
  • Multi brand businesses – Some companies such as The Hut Group, Red Ventures, or private equity firms might own a number of businesses and working in a digital capacity for one of these businesses would mean working on a number of different brands for that group
  • Independent consulting – working by yourself in a more freelance capacity – essentially being an agency for yourself

So where do we start. I’ve built a list below of general rules to follow to help you along your way. This is advice that I give to my team on a regular basis.

General advice for your career in tech

  1. What you know is important but what you can demonstrate you know is gold
    • Learning HTML is great but building your own website and writing blog posts about your learning process is better.
  2. Consider the T shaped career learning path in the progress towards your specialism
    • T shaped learning has long been promoted by a number of marketing leaders as a way to shape your learning to build expertise in a small set of subjects and broader knowledge across the spectrum. I highly recommend this approach as specialism in a commercially applicable topic gets your foot in the door while you can build other skills around it.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and be sure to connect with your community
    • Join Twitter and follow people and companies whose articles you read. Ask questions on StackExchange. Sign up to popular email newsletters on substack.
  4. Learn in public
    • Not sure how to do something? Write a blog about it. Post a video to YouTube. Start a newsletter. Write on Medium. One of the most effective ways to learn is to know that people might expect you to demonstrate your learning to them.
  5. At some point, clearly defining what you are is massively important in finding a job in tech
    • Early on in careers, ambiguity or a lack of specialism can impact job viability. I often receive resumes from people who don’t clearly define what they do. Exposure to a broad range of specialisms is fantastic but a resume curated to demonstrate capabilities in a specialist remit is integral to getting a job. For example, if you love CSS and JavaScript and making the front end of websites function flawlessly then having a resume highlighting a myriad of analytics experience might not be the best approach.
  6. Pursue what you are passionate about but keep an eye on the end goal
    • It is true that what we’re sometimes passionate about and what will make us the most money don’t always align but there will be a way to adapt these two goals synchronously. Your passion is pivotal as it’s the thing that will get you out of bed in the morning. Aligning that to commercial output is the dream we all pursue.
  7. Use your existing passions as a foot in the digital door
    • Do you love motorbikes? Then make a website about them. Are you a hairdresser? Then start your own online brand promoting your services. Work as a prison warden? Start writing about some of the incredible stories you’ve got (my Dad was a prison warden – if this is you then do make sure that you do it anonymously and without mentioning anyone or anything that could get you in trouble!). It’s much easier to take skills you already have and merge them with the world of technology to accelerate your digital growth.

How to get your career in digital started?

If you’re brand new to this then, regardless of the track above, I would recommend the following:

  1. Learn HTML and CSS – this opens the door to so many different avenues and introduces you to basic web fundamentals
  2. Learn how the web works – getting your head around this will help you to understand everything that exists on the web
  3. Build a website – I typically wouldn’t recommend building a performance driven site using Squarespace but it’s a good way to begin to learn how a CMS (Content Management System) works
  4. Learn Excel / Google Sheets – arguably the most important cross-track skill that every developer, data scientist, and marketer must know – Google Sheets is free, version controlled, and collaborative, so this is my main recommendation
  5. Write a blog post / make a video – when you learn something – share it with the world! You can share written content on Medium easily and video content on YouTube. Just the process of doing this will help you massively.

Further reading

These resources from Flatiron school in New York are awesome – 11 Moves to Break into Tech with Zero Experience

General tech industry insights and career info – How to Get a Tech Career Without a Tech Degree

Jobs in digital marketing – 11 High-Paying Jobs In Tech—No Experience Required

And my two personal favorite websites for web design and performance:

Finally, hard work and enthusiasm are traits that benefit all industries. In the ever changing digital landscape this could not be more true. Enjoy and reach out if there are any questions.