4 Nanodegree Programs That Will Help You Land A Job Without Going To College

Education
U.S. Air Force photo by Photo via Senior Airman Brett Clashman

The landscape of education and professional development is rapidly changing. A well-rounded four-year education is no longer the only sure-fire method for charting a path toward career success. Employers want to hire talented people who are ready to contribute from day one, or they won’t even bother opening the door for consideration.


Nowadays, industry credentials and hyper-focused vertical skills, like project management or product development, are in high demand. For millennials seeking a career in web-design and data-based careers, a compact, narrowly targeted training program is ideal. This type of condensed technical education and training is known as a nanodegree, a concept pioneered by the online college Udacity. A nanodegree is a certification that can be acquired in less than 12 months, at a pace of 10 to 20 hours of effort on a weekly basis. Earning a nanodegree can be an alternative way to breaking into a well-paying data or web-design-based career.

The two huge advantages of nanodegrees are that they’re much less costly than traditional degrees, and they’re also much less time consuming, with some programs taking as few as eight weeks to complete. A glaring disadvantage is the lack of balance with other important educational pieces that you might find in a liberal arts concentration. For those looking to break into the tech industry, a nanodegree provides a fast track to earnings by tailoring your education to what you need to be successful in your technical career.

Here are four nanodegree programs that have major upsides in the job market:

1. Full-stack web developer

A good friend of mine from the Air Force is now a well-paid civilian, with a pretty cool job at an innovative technology company. I have a college degree, and he does not. Yet, we both earn comparable salaries. That’s possible because he earned a nanodegree in full-stack web development, a track that familiarizes programmers with each layer of software technology. A full-stack web developer does front-end and back-end coding and also gets involved in product development. This program teaches skills specifically in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Ruby on Rails, Node.js for APIs, and other market-critical coding languages.

The program my buddy attended was just 12 weeks long, but he received an official job offer before he was even finished. He is truly a coding enthusiast, and now he earns a living doing it full time.

2. Data analyst

Back in 2013, CNBC recognized data analyst as the sexiest job of the 21st century. That’s why this nanodegree can open up a lucrative pathway. According to Udacity, this program prepares candidates to classify unlabeled data; make future predictions through applied statistics and machine learning algorithms; extract, transform, and load varying data; and more. In addition, learning to create data visualizations for the purpose of effectively communicating data analysis is a vital component of this program. If this nanodegree interests you, then expect around $60,000 or more as an average annual salary.

3. User interface and experience design

The user-experience design process requires keen attention to detail and sharp technical acumen. A school like General Assembly offers this nanodegree with an emphasis on interaction and interface design, prototyping and testing, and collaboration with teams and clients. General Assembly’s program is 10 weeks long. According to Glassdoor, the national average salary for a person who obtains this skillset is $90,000 per year.

4. Product management

In 10 weeks you could earn a product management nanodegree. With our “apps gone wild” society, where we’re also pushing everything into “the cloud,” becoming a product manager should transform you into a very busy sought-after professional. You can become an expert at technical and agile project management, user-centered design, and developing minimum viable products, which can be something you sell before building, like delivering a mobile application with minimal code inputs.

Even if you’re already equipped with a college degree, pursuing a nanodegree may still prove highly beneficial. Consider your options, and to do more independent research. Maybe it will catapult your career to new heights, or at least bump up your earning power a bit.

Every once in a while, we run across a photo in The Times-Picayune archives that's so striking that it begs a simple question: "What in the name of Momus Alexander Morgus is going on in this New Orleans photograph?" When we do, we've decided, we're going to share it — and to attempt to answer that question.

Read More Show Less
Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces control the monitor of their drone at their advanced position, during the fighting with Islamic State's fighters in Nazlat Shahada, a district of Raqqa. (Reuters/Zohra Bensemra)

MUSCAT (Reuters) - The United States should keep arming and aiding the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following the planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria, provided the group keeps up the pressure on Islamic State, a senior U.S. general told Reuters on Friday.

Read More Show Less

President Donald Trump claims the $6.1 billion from the Defense Department's budget that he will now spend on his border wall was not going to be used for anything "important."

Trump announced on Friday that he was declaring a national emergency, allowing him to tap into military funding to help pay for barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Read More Show Less

Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."

"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."

First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.

"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."

Read More Show Less

D-Day veteran James McCue died a hero. About 500 strangers made sure of it.

"It's beautiful," Army Sgt. Pete Rooney said of the crowd that gathered in the cold and stood on the snow Thursday during McCue's burial. "I wish it happened for every veteran's funeral."

Read More Show Less