Tech Jobs and Two Year Degrees


There’s a new connection in the job market that you might not expect – tech jobs and two year degrees! Recent research on big tech employers reveal that community colleges and tech schools offer distinct advantages for students seeking employment in I.T. fields. The Wall Street Journal reports that “some of the biggest tech giants are turning to these two-year schools to find the skilled workers they desperately need.”

You may be wondering why big industry names like Amazon and Tesla would need, or prefer, students from two year colleges versus those with higher degrees. It sounds like the opposite of what they would be looking for, but the reasons actually make a lot of sense…

Two year degree programs focus more on certifications and hands-on skills. Many four year programs are more theoretical in nature, and they lack the hands-on experience that employers expect job candidates to have. This is closely tied in to certifications, which provide tangible proof of your experience and expertise.

CIAT places a high emphasis on both hands-on labs and tech certifications because we know that these effectively prepare our students to succeed in the job market. Our courses cover up a wide variety of tech certifications, including:

  • CompTIA A+
  • CompTIA Network+
  • CompTIA Security+
  • CompTIA Linux+
  • CompTIA CASP
  • Cisco Certified CCNA
  • Cisco Certified CCNA Security
  • Cisco Certified CCNP Routing & Switching
  • Microsoft Certified Professional MCSA Windows Server
  • Microsoft Certified Professional MCSA Windows Workstation
  • Microsoft Certified Professional MCSA Cloud Platform
  • EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • VMware

Many employers will require that applicants possess one or more of these certifications just to qualify for the open position. The flip side, though, is that tech jobs and two year degrees aren’t the only way to go. Many tech jobs can be obtained by applicants that have certifications like the ones listed above, even without any kind of degree. That’s why CIAT also offers many different certificate programs, ranging from 10 weeks to 10 months for completion. The WSJ goes on to explain:

“There are hundreds of thousands of open positions in the U.S. in fields like cybersecurity, cloud computing, computer programming, data science, tech support and skilled manufacturing. In many of these fields, the ‘skills gap’ between available candidates and open positions is only projected to grow. In the U.S. there are already half a million core technical workers in the high tech industry who do not have a bachelor’s degree.

They also noted a surprising factoid regarding wages:

“Because of a growing difference between wages for different kinds of jobs, 30% of those with an associate degree now out-earn the average holder of a bachelor’s degree. In other words, no one should be surprised when someone with an associate degree in cloud computing out-earns someone with a bachelor’s in English literature.”

Experience and certs aren’t the only reasons that tech jobs and two year degrees go hand in hand. Two year schools, like California Institute of Arts & Technology, tend to be more affordable and offer more flexibility to students who have full time jobs, families, and other obligations. This means that the demographics at schools like ours tend to have greater diversity than traditional four year universities.

Diversity and representation have become big issues in corporate America today. Some companies have executive boards that expect to see diversification among employees. Others rely on diversity to remain eligible for various grants and public funding. Still others are held accountable via word of mouth reputation and social media and called to task publicly when lack of diversity is discovered.

Diversity is a concern in the growing field of cybersecurity, too. In our 2017 article, Cybersecurity Workforce Needs More Millennials, we explain this in detail:

Women and minorities make up a small fraction of the (cybersecurity) workforce, which is a missed opportunity for employers. Information security works best when different viewpoints and strategies are incorporated. There’s no one type of hacker – despite all the images we see of men in hoodies, hunkered down over a computer in a dark room.

Black hat hackers (aka ‘the bad guys’) are men and women of all ages and ethnicities, from across the entire world. By employing mainly middle-aged white men, the industry is missing a chance to benefit from the unique knowledge and perspective that is needed to deal with the hacker population.”

Finally, community colleges and tech schools tend to appeal to active duty military and veterans. These students often arrive with government security clearances that make them especially valuable in the world of information security. America currently has high rates of veteran unemployment, and companies like Amazon are specifically seeking military employees to help change that trend.

Big tech brands benefit from having qualified personnel that they can trust, and veterans benefit by being employed in a field that truly benefits from their military experience and credentials. Tech jobs and two year degrees are a good combination for just about anyone, but especially for active duty military and veterans.

If you’re ready to start your education, CIAT is here to help you! Contact us today or check out our various programs to see which tech jobs and two year degrees could work best for you.