Tech is only becoming more vital to business, which means hiring more tech workers is generally a positive step toward success. Unfortunately, most business leaders know precious little about tech credentials. Can a computer scientist perform data analysis? Is a systems engineer qualified to build networks? Who do you hire when you want everyday tech support?
Though tech is relatively new, it is incredibly vast, with hundreds of specialties and thousands of job titles – including the ones with “wizard” and “guru” on the ends. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to learn about the distinct qualifications for different fields within tech. In fact, this guide should clear up most of your confusion and help you hire the right tech worker every time.
There is a widespread rumor that tech workers don’t need formal educations. After all, some of the biggest names in tech – Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Mark Zuckerberg and more – found outrageous success after dropping out of college. Indeed, in the past, many universities were behind the times in tech education, which meant most students eager to progress in this burgeoning field were better off performing self-guided study without the burden of tuition. Therefore, many hiring managers suspect that academic credentials might not mean as much in a prospective tech employee.
However, times have changed. Colleges around the country have expanded their tech programs and now offer some of the most advanced tech learning possible. A tech degree ensures that an applicant has the fundamental skills to perform certain necessary jobs ― though it can be impossible for tech outsiders to distinguish between various tech fields.
Science vs. Engineering: Computer science is a broad field which encompasses the four major concepts in computing: theory, architecture, programming languages and algorithms. Usually, a computer science grad has basic skills to succeed in any tech position. Computer engineering is typically a convergence of computer science and electrical engineering, which means computer engineers tend to focus their efforts on hardware and software. A computer engineering grad fits best into jobs with “engineering” titles.
Design vs. Development: Whether discussing websites, software or another tech product, design and development are subtly different. Both designers and developers are necessary members of tech teams, but degrees in these fields differ. Web designers are creative types who consider primarily the end-user’s experience. They work on the front-end of tech projects to ensure the products look and feel polished. Meanwhile, web developers are more concerned with functionality, so they employ programming languages to solve problems and achieve the goals of their client or company.
Bachelor vs. Master vs. Ph.D.: A bachelor’s degree is usually sufficient to train tech workers for their responsibilities in entry-level positions. Likely, workers will gain the skills and knowledge necessary for promotion organically through their work experiences, but some certification may better prepare them for elevated roles. However, advanced tech degrees, such as master’s and doctorates, are usually only beneficial for those interested in performing research or studying tech theory – which typically aren’t the goals of employers.
On top of degrees, one can also earn certificates to bolster their education and credentials. Certificates are becoming more and more popular in many fields, but as the need for qualified tech workers grows, certification programs are proving to be more valuable for their speed and effectiveness at ensuring certain tech skills.