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Advice / Job Search / Finding a Job

How to Translate Your Tech Skills to Any Industry

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With today's focus on cool tech companies and startups, it can be easy to forget that there are plenty of innovative tech jobs outside of this realm. In fact, tech talent is in high demand in virtually every sector. So, if you're looking for greener pastures, it's worth looking past the usual suspects and considering other industries—particularly those that are putting a premium on tech talent.

“There are a lot of reasons why a tech professional might want to leave the tech sector," said Marc Nation, talent agent at New York recruiting firm The Hired Guns. “Startups can be risky, but other industries can offer more stability and maybe even the potential to have a broader impact on the world."

Here are three to consider, plus the most in-demand roles in each.

Industry #1: Finance

If the finance industry isn't on your radar, it should be. Finance is shedding its image as a slow-moving industry and rapidly becoming a desirable destination for top tech innovators. Financial technology, known as “fintech", is booming. In fact, North American banks are on pace to spend almost $20 billion on new technologies this year. There are plenty of fintech jobs to choose from, but some of the hottest gigs are focused on mobile apps, online payments, and increased data security.

Java Developer

Financial institutions have to be accessible to all their customers, no matter what operating system or device they're using. That wouldn't be possible without Java developers. They're critical members of any enterprise software development team, and they're always in demand. As a Java developer, you'll also get to work with a variety of team members and even clients in order to solicit feedback and determine business goals.

What You Need

  • A degree in computer science or a similar field
  • Experience working with frameworks like Hibernate or Spring
  • Familiarity with technologies like SQL, CSS, or HTML5
  • Bonus points: Experience working with cross-functional teams and customers

Mobile App Developer

If you've built an app for Android or iOS, fintech has plenty of jobs for you. Most major financial institutions are working to improve their mobile experience, and those that have yet to launch an app are rushing to catch up. Developers who can help them get there are a huge hiring priority. Plus, you don't need a degree in computer science—prove you can build a great app, and you're golden.

What You Need

  • A portfolio of published apps in the Google Play store or Apple's app store that you either built or contributed to
  • A working knowledge of Android or iOS development languages
  • Bonus points: Experience working within an Agile development framework

Data Security Engineer

Nothing could be worse for a financial institution than having its customers' information compromised, so it's easy to see why data security is a top priority. Keeping users' info safe requires a distinct set of skills, and institutions are keen to bring on those who have them.

What You Need

  • Experience designing and managing cybersecurity strategies and architecture
  • Knowledge of information security best practices, especially within the finance industry
  • Solid scripting experience (Python, Ruby, Perl, etc.)
  • Five to seven years' experience in IT security or security engineering
  • Proven work with risk identification and threat modeling technologies
  • Bonus points: Strong presentation and communication skills

Industry #2: Healthcare

Few industries have been changed by developing technology as much as the healthcare sector. From your local doctor's office to large hospital systems, today's doctors and surgeons rely heavily on technology—from robot-assisted surgery to big data.

Systems Administrator

Like being a hero? Then consider becoming a systems administrator—or “sysadmin." These folks keep complex computer and phone systems up, running, and secure. They're always on call and always in demand. And no two days will be the same. You might repair a database one day and install a new system the next. And when a hospital's email server or internet connectivity goes down, the sysadmin is the first person they call.

What You Need

  • Experience with server installation, maintenance, and infrastructure
  • Experience working in a mixed operating system environment, like variants of UNIX and Windows
  • Knowledge of network administration best practices
  • Bachelor's degree in computer science or information technology
  • Bonus points: Proven experience working and assisting non-tech colleagues

Data Analyst

If data's your thing, consider a healthcare data analyst role, where you'll evaluate, compile, and validate large sets of healthcare information. You'll work with everything from patient health data to industry data, and prepare reports that help the leadership of a hospital or healthcare agency make informed decisions. You might even use your skills to help your employer provide more effective care to its patients.

What You Need

  • An excellent grasp of and experience with statistical analysis
  • Experience working with machine learning applications
  • Proficiency with a database querying language like SQL or Hive
  • Proficiency with data analysis tools like SAS
  • Expert-level ability with Excel
  • Bonus points: The ability to put together compelling, attractive reports for exec teams

Industry #3: Education

If “education technology" makes you think of your school's aging computer lab, it's time to rethink the education technology sector. Edtech is a multi-billion dollar market, and the sector's growth shows no signs of slowing down. If you love learning, consider using your tech talents to help shape young minds.

UX Designer

In order to be effective, teaching tech has to be instructive, intuitive, and fun. An education expert will handle the “instructive" part, but those last two factors are up to a UX Designer. These folks ensure that tools are easy and enjoyable to use. They conduct a ton of user testing and leverage that data to optimize the user's experience within an app. There's plenty of tech aspects within this role, like wireframing and prototyping, but there are also heavy design and psychology elements, as well.

What You Need

  • Experience designing or helping design user experiences
  • Experience with responsive and mobile design
  • Proven ability to translate business goals into digital experiences
  • A gift for written and visual communication
  • Bonus points: a talent for graphic design

Product Manager

If you're more of a visionary and less of an executor, consider a move to product management. Many companies have multiple product managers, each overseeing a specific segment of a software product. Your primary role is to translate business goals and customer needs into software products. You'll lay out a product roadmap and help guide the dev team in bringing it to life.

What You Need

  • Experience as a product leader or internal entrepreneur within a tech company
  • The ability to gather and analyze business and customer needs and translate them into a product roadmap
  • Familiarity with Agile development
  • Bonus points: A gift for diplomacy and working across multiple teams

These are just a few of the industries where tech hiring is on the rise, so don't forget to explore all your options. After all, there's far more out there than just startups and the Googles of the world.