Do you need a degree to be paid well in tech?

With the newest changes to student loan repayments1 having a greater impact on lower earning graduates due to the reduction of the repayment salary threshold, prospective university applicants may be reconsidering their alternatives to a university degree.

Whilst a degree can put you in line for a successful career, there are plenty of high paying alternatives that don’t require a degree, with many of them in the tech or digital spheres.

The top paying jobs that don’t require a degree

  1. Scrum Master: Average salary - £66,663
  2. Construction Manager: Average salary - £65,188
  3. Ethical Hacker: Average salary - £63,172
  4. Commercial Pilot: Average salary - £60,796
  5. Food Safety Inspector: Average salary - £60,105
  6. Private Chauffeur: Average salary - £60,000
  7. Buying Manager: Average salary - £54,690
  8. Casino Gaming Manager: Average salary - £52,000
  9. Air Traffic Controller: Average salary - £50,618
  10. Games Developer: Average salary - £50,136

With three of the top ten jobs requiring coding as a skill, Jane Gormley, Director of Careers at Code Institute, a provider of online coding courses, explains the levels of skill in software development required for each role, and how to begin your career.

  1. Scrum Master: Average salary, £66,663

A scrum master is the facilitator of a scrum, a form of agile working organisation that is commonly used with teams of coders or software developers3. It combines the skills of a software developer, or whichever skillset the scrum is in, with people and project management.

This is the highest paying job that doesn’t require a degree according to the data, and whilst it does require a lot of experience, it’s an achievable career goal for those working in a scrum in software development or coding.

Jane said: “Becoming a scrum master will take time, but it’s a great career goal for some who’s beginning their journey in software development and coding. 

“To be successful, you’ll need a combination of good people and project management skills to run the team, as well as strong software development skills and experience working in a scrum. The best way to get started is to take an online coding course which will help you to secure a job in the industry. Then as you gain more experience, you can work your way towards becoming a scrum master.”

  1. Ethical Hacker: Average salary, £63,172

Ethical hackers, also known as white hat hackers, play a vital role in cyber security for a wide range of organisations, and are employed by large corporations and even the government. 

The job involves the hacker attempting to identify weaknesses in an organisation’s online security by attacking the online infrastructure as a hacker would. This allows the organisation to strengthen their security4.

Jane said: “Ethical hackers are a hugely important part of cyber security. It goes without saying that individuals will need to have high ethical standards, but on the skills side, a strong understanding of coding,  cybersecurity and computer operating systems is required. 

“The good news is that there are plenty of online coding courses out there to help you learn the required skills. Start by learning how to code, and whilst you’re building experience, look for cyber security courses to learn the more advanced details and principles of cybersecurity.”

  1. Games Developer: Average salary, £50,136

A dream job for many people, games developing is another career that doesn’t need a university degree.

You’ll need a mix of tech know-how, such as software development and programming, combined with a passion for gaming and creativity, but if you have all of these it’s not difficult to learn the trade. Depending on your role, you could be working on visuals and animation, audio or story development.

Jane said: “Becoming a games developer is a fantastic career for tech savvy people with a passion for video games and a strong creative streak.

“This career path will initially require you to learn how to code, which can be easily done through online coding courses and full stack development courses, and will teach you the skills you need for the job. Once you’ve learned the basics of software development, you can look for an apprenticeship or internship available to get your foot in the door.”

Jane added: “Whilst university is a fantastic and worthwhile  life experience that can put you in line for a great career, it’s certainly not for everyone. The good news is that there are good careers out there that don’t require a degree, and plenty of accessible courses to earn respected qualifications in skills such as cyber security, software development, and online coding courses.

“We hope that this breakdown shows that there are brilliant career prospects for those who either aren’t able, or don’t want to go to university. The tech sphere is a particularly strong space to forge a career, and is only going to grow in importance over the coming years.”

For more information about Code Institute and the courses they offer, visit here.