IT career options that do not require a university degree

David Banks's picture
Authored by David Banks
Posted Wednesday, April 10, 2019 - 7:36pm

Exeter boasts one of the UK’s top-performing universities with some noteworthy alumni, including the likes of Zara Phillips and J.K Rowling. But do you really need to attend university to enjoy a high-paying and rewarding career? Not necessarily if you are looking for a career in IT. Here, we will look into alternative options for people wanting a computer-related profession.

The University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) has recently stated that applications to UK universities has decreased. The overall figures have decreased despite a rise in overseas applications. Possible causes are said to be due to fewer 18-year-olds within the overall UK population, while others have speculated that young people do not feel university degrees are worth their fees from a career perspective.

Are University Degrees Really Worth It?

UK universities charge some of the highest fees in the world, which makes young people question their real value. It may be argued that university is not just about training and qualifying for a career, but it is also a life experience that teaches invaluable lessons. Putting this argument to one side, are university degrees worth the financial burden? The answer will depend on the end result of obtaining your degree and the doors it opens in your professional career.

Naturally, some jobs are unattainable without a university degree. Defending someone in court or having a go at thoracic surgery is not an opportunity that gets handed over without wearing a graduation gown and throwing a hat in the air at some point. Moreover, there is evidence that university leavers have a reduced chance of experiencing unemployment and do get paid more – on average. But does that tell the whole story?

To understand if a university degree is really worth the time and money spent, you need to consider the question from a personal perspective. Whereas doctors, nurses, lawyers and engineers may certainly see and feel the value of a university degree, the same may not be true for those studying the arts, music, or the social sciences. These people can easily sink into careers that are not related to the three or four years they spent studying for. They can soon be working in careers that do not require a degree in the first place This may also be a reason why there is evidence to suggest that the pay gap between UK graduates and non-graduates appears to be shrinking.

What About Computer Degrees?

On average, students who graduate with an IT or computer science degree do earn significantly more than many students in other disciplines. However, computer science and IT degrees do differ to the company they keep. While doctors and lawyers must have a degree to practice in their field, IT experts do not necessarily rely on their degree certificate as much. Many university dropouts and IT professionals still enjoy a high-earning career without attending university. Albeit not everyone can become Bill Gates, non-university attendees can still earn a considerable wage, especially as the rise in technology has appeared to create more jobs than it has eradicated.

Alternatives to Tech Degrees

There are alternatives to completing a computer degree at university. Some people have the ability to teach themselves desirable computer skills with help from online sources and books. These people are few and far between due to incredible self-discipline and a natural gift. Without accreditation, they also need to really stand out to land a job – or they then go on to create their own computer companies.

There are also courses available at lower stages in the education hierarchy at colleges and sixth form. However, one of the most in-demand methods of undertaking a computer and IT course is through online distance learning. These online IT courses may cover a vast number of topics within IT, including ethical hacking, big data, Excel and many more. You no longer need to spend three years in a lecture hall to become an expert in these IT niches and earn good money. Instead, online courses may be the answer.

The Benefits of Online IT Courses

Online courses are an attractive option for many people. The main benefit of an online course is that it can be completed independently in your own time – and at your own pace. This makes them ideal for people who are also holding down a job simultaneously or for people who have other commitments such as children to look after. Yet, there are other benefits to online IT courses, including:

  • Online courses are completed with a computer which lends itself well to gain practical IT skills
  • They are often completed quicker than a degree, so you have the potential to start earning money sooner
  • Online IT courses can be accredited, meaning they are recognised by employers
  • They are often cheaper than a university course and do not involve significant debts – if any

So, Is University Still for You?

Now that you are aware that there are alternatives to computer and IT degrees, is university still for you? You may still wish to go to university and enjoy a high-paying career in IT and technology – but there are other avenues to think about as well. Consider the benefits of other IT courses which offer many benefits and are recognised by UK employers.