Make $30 an hour, no bachelor's degree required
Updated On: May 21 2013 11:10:57 AM CDT
No college degree? No problem.
Become a Web developer.
The job is growing quickly, offers a median salary around $30 an hour, or $62,500 a year, and does not necessarily require a bachelor's degree.
That's because companies can't meet all the demand for workers. The job is still too new, and the labor pool is not quite large enough yet.
"There aren't enough bodies to fill all the seats," said Judi Wunderlich, co-founder of WunderLand, a Chicago recruiting firm specializing in digital, marketing and creative jobs.
Computer-related jobs are expected to grow by about 22 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
And for Web and mobile developers specifically, traditional college programs can hardly keep up. Even though many schools offer computer science courses, the field is changing so rapidly. The curriculum is rarely the same from year to year.
"If somebody wants to get into this job, it just doesn't make sense to get a college degree," Wunderlich said.
As of 2010, about 38 percent of Web developers had less than a four-year college degree, according to Census data. Instead, many workers in this field are self-trained.
Take for instance, Matt Kenefick. Growing up, he devoted himself to learning how to code. He viewed it mostly as a hobby and actually intended to become an architect. After just a few weeks in college though, architecture lost its appeal.
At 18, he dropped out and turned to coding as a full-time job. With little more than a high school diploma in hand, he started making around $65,000 a year.
Since then, he has worked for Percolate, Vimeo and other startups, and now, at age 25, he's earning more than six figures.
"Nobody really cares about your education in this field -- it's can you do it, or can you not?" he said. "Now, when I interview people and they list schooling on their resume, instead I ask, 'show me what you've done.'"
For beginners attracted to this field, some online programs like Codeacademy offer free training. Meanwhile, intensive training programs, which can cost several thousand dollars, are also popping up in major cities.
In Chicago, The Starter League offers a three-month class in web development for $8,000, and Mobile Makers offers an eight-week course in building iPhone and iPad apps for $7,000. General Assembly offers 12-week programs in various locations including New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Boston. That program costs $11,500.
You can also learn the old-fashioned way. Chris Lemke was driving trucks for a living, when he picked up two books on building mobile apps, back in December 2011.
"I liked math and decided to give it a whirl," he said. " A month or two later, I had a tipping calculator in the App Store."
About a year after tinkering on his own, the 29-year-old Lemke scored an apprenticeship with VOKAL Interactive, and is learning the rest on the job.
To say this occupation is attainable for anyone though is a bit of stretch. It still requires some math chops and long hours of practice.
"You have to be a self-starter to go along with this," Kenefick said. "In the beginning, it was literally all day and all night, day after day, I was practicing and building up my portfolio. I'm pretty sure it's more work than going to college."
Web developer is among CareerCast's list of "best jobs that don't require four-year degrees." Other jobs on the list include plumber, electrician, paralegal and industrial machine repairer.
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