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Ditch the Degree: 6 Unlikely IT Careers That Don’t Require University

You don’t need a university degree to achieve a career in IT. In fact, with the rise of IT apprenticeships, university might not be the best way for you to get a high-powered career in technology.

Whether you received the results you wanted or not, university isn’t the only option. An IT apprenticeship will get you into work with top employers and give you the qualifications you need faster than university.

You might be surprised what careers are available to you with an IT apprenticeship. Here are 6 eye opening IT careers that don’t require a university degree.

Ethical Hacking

Useful qualifications: Hacking certifications and Cyber Security Apprenticeships
Average UK Salary: £52,500 (ITJobsWatch)

With high salaries and a real demand for more skilled ethical hackers, this is the top job of 2017. Hacking knowledge is now so crucial, even the police are now learning to hack like the pros. As the threat of cyber crime increases, businesses are scrambling to improve their cyber defences by hiring ethical hackers.

Ethical hackers are IT professionals paid by businesses to conduct penetration tests - controlled hacks on businesses. These professional identify the weaknesses that real hackers could use to steal sensitive data or take over critical business equipment.

Start your career in this exciting area of IT with one of many cyber security apprenticeships. Cyber security apprentices are already working to protect organisations across the country from malicious hackers, could you join them?


Useful qualifications: Level 3 Infrastructure Technician / Level 4 Network Engineer Apprenticeship
Average UK Salary: £46,000 for a Network Engineer role

Networks are essential for modern life, connecting millions of people and businesses across the globe. Every network is a collection of computers, servers and devices – and behind each one sits a team of skilled and experienced network engineers.

IT Apprenticeships, IT Apprentice

“Network Engineers often work in the shadows, but we have a massive amount of responsibility to keep the business operational. I work with my team to monitor four business regions, so we have to act quickly to prevent the ripple effect caused by any issues,” writes Steven Rincon, Networking Engineer Apprentice at Firebrand Training.

With the Network Engineer apprenticeship, you’ll kick-start your career without going to university. Alternatively, if you’re new to IT (or just finishing your GCSEs), start with the Level 3 Infrastructure Technician apprenticeship, and move onto the Network Engineer when it’s completed.

Big Data

Useful qualifications: Level 4 Data Analyst Apprenticeship
Average UK Salary: £62,500

Big data professionals improve businesses by tapping into mountains of data. From online shopping, communicating on social media or simply carrying around a smartphone, there is more data available than most IT professionals can handle.

That’s why businesses now need dedicated big data specialists. Careers in Big Data are among the highest paying in IT and include roles like Data Analyst, Data Scientist and Data Visualiser.

Many professionals transition to big data roles from other areas of IT, but you can get straight into a big data career with a Data Analyst apprenticeship.


Useful qualifications: Level 4 Network Engineer Apprenticeship and Cloud-focused apprenticeships
Average UK Salary: £57,500

Cloud computing is the method of accessing data, programs and services over the internet, instead of on your physical computer or hard drive. Cloud services are crucial for large modern businesses and allow startups to get up and running quickly. Because of growing need for cloud technology, cloud skills are in high demand.

A career in cloud technology could be seriously rewarding and many businesses are now hiring cloud apprentices to fuel their need for this critical technology.

Programmes like the Network Engineer align well to cloud roles and cloud-focused apprenticeships also exist. These programmes are built to align with the cloud skills required by vendors, like Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud or Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Software Development

Useful qualifications: Level 4 Software Developer Apprenticeship
Average UK Salary: £40,000

Software developers are the creative and technical minds responsible for building, managing and deploying computer programs. Excel as a software developer and you could eventually find yourself managing entire teams of developers as you gain valuable project management and leadership skills.

Degrees in IT-related subjects are a common route for a job as a software developer, but that’s not the only way. Software Developer apprenticeships are also supported by the government and will fast-track you into a software development career.

Entry-level software developers earn between £20,000 to £30,000 – increasing to £70,000 when you become highly experienced. Take a look at this great article for more information on starting your career as a software developer.

Digital Marketing

Useful qualifications: Level 3 Digital Marketer Apprenticeship
Average UK Salary: £46,500

A career in digital marketing requires creativity, IT knowledge, data analysis skills and attention to detail. Your day-to-day duties will vary massively, but you could work across paid search, PR, social media, content creation, email marketing SEO and much more.

University degrees are not required for a role in digital marketing. So, if you want to get into a digital marketing role quickly, consider a Digital Marketer Apprenticeship and get straight into a paying and rewarding role.

With a Digital Marketer Apprenticeship, you’ll be able to skip the student debt and begin gaining the hands-on experience needed for a career in digital marketing.