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

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.

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