If you’re someone who is technically-minded, and you think that a career in the tech field would suit you, then there are different approaches to take to get started. Certainly, if you want to begin quite young and prefer to learn essential computing skills on-the-job, being an apprentice is one route to take. Alternatively, you could be self-taught, which is challenging and requires more focus and determination. Advancing your knowledge to the point where you could take a Computer Science degree is another approach too.

Let’s now examine the options for a career in technology depending on your age and current circumstances.

Going the apprenticeship route

Being an apprentice is a well-worn path where you start at ground level, learn on-the-job and eventually graduate as an apprentice. The City and Guilds apprenticeships are some of the best-known with official apprenticeship standards that are closely followed. They support young adults who wish to learn and advance. Apprenticeships from City and Guilds are provided across the UK, but with differences between each country. So, England has a different set of rules or standards applied than Scotland or Wales.

In England, for instance, previous standards for learning and cognition, along with an understanding of the responsibilities of both the employee and the employer, are going through a transition period. It’s moving to an employer-led approach to making the apprenticeships even more relevant for industry. For the fast-moving tech field, this level of flexibility is likely to work better in the long run.

Being self-taught

Some people who are interested in computing choose to focus on gradual learning in their spare time. They buy books on graphic design, programming, web design and other subjects to learn how to be a graphic designer, an app developer, or a web designer. There are also short courses on sites like Udemy.com and free YouTube videos to learn small tasks like creating a new post on a WordPress-based website.

If you’re wishing to be self-taught, then being extremely disciplined with your process to become proficient on a chosen subject is required. Not everyone is suited to that. It’s harder to find a job when you do not have an apprenticeship or higher education confirming your knowledge or experience. For this reason, many self-taught people have a plan from the beginning to work as a self-employed freelancer or to start their own business when they’re older.

Someone who decides to learn mostly on their own is highly motivated, usually in their 20s, and has the maturity to follow through. The level of self-belief necessary to pursue their chosen course of action allows for little doubt, otherwise, they’ll falter part-way through.

Studying a computer science degree

Studying for a Computer Science degree is the formal way to get into the computing field. Being a software engineer or a network engineer requires this type of academic qualification studied over 3- 4 years. Most degrees of this type require applicants to have an excellent academic background in order to be accepted. Competition is fierce for places at the best universities. A Computer Science degree places considerable emphasis on group work, project completion and technical ability. It sets a high bar for students, which not everyone is suited to achieving.

When you’re interested in getting into the technology job market, there are many ways to do so. Someone who is an impressive graphic designer is rarely a capable programmer too because they’re different disciplines. Therefore, with an apprenticeship and formal or academic study, it’s possible to discover what areas of technology you’re best suited to. No one is good at everything and technology is a vast field. Once you know what you’re best at, you can set about becoming the best of the best, and this can be your major selling point at job interviews.