So, you know you want to go into technology. Maybe you were the kid who always took things apart just to see how they worked, or maybe you’re the whiz who always helps their grandparents figure out how to use their computer. You have an appetite for innovation and technical skills, but you’re wondering: what tech job is right for me?
Technology is a large field with an endless amount of career opportunities (literally, as we make more advances in technology, there are more jobs working on that new technology)! To help you figure out the best role for you, we’ve created a “What tech job is right for me?” quiz to help point you in the right technical direction.
What Tech Job Is Right for Me? Quiz
Learn what tech job is right for you based on your interests, skills, and goals. It’s completely free — you’ll just need to log in or sign up to view your results.
What Tech Job Is Right for Me? Options
You’ve taken the quiz and gotten your tech job result, but do you want to learn more about your ideal tech job (or other options)? Here’s what experts in the field have to say about their tech roles and how to succeed.
A data analyst works to process, organize, inspect, and analyze data for crucial decision-making. Data analysts sit between data and business; they use their technical skills to parse through and draw information from data, then use soft skills to communicate their findings to non-technical stakeholders. For example, a data analyst could work for a social media company, helping them collect data to understand trends of the company’s top-performing content.
Use key data analytics skills to help hypothetical client Social Buzz with their social media and business strategy.
Avg. Time: 2-3 hours
Skills you’ll build: Data analysis, data modeling, data visualization, storytelling, presentations, communication
What Do You Need to Succeed as a Data Analyst?
“My belief is that anyone can succeed in a data-related role if they are interested in it,” says Jenna Bellassai, senior data analyst at Forage. “You will need to learn to be detail-oriented to succeed as a data analyst because the work requires a high degree of specificity. Systems thinking is also critical — understanding where data came from and how it was transformed is important when drawing conclusions from your analyses of it. You also need to be a curious person who enjoys investigating and has some healthy skepticism.”
Data analysts may need to be heads down and focused on their analysis some of the time, but Bellassai assures that this is not a completely independent role.
“There may be a public perception that data analysts are introverted, and some of the work is solitary, but you will not succeed as a data analyst if you aren’t able to communicate effectively, both with other analysts and engineers and with cross-functional stakeholders,” she says.
How to Become a Data Analyst
Ready to try data analytics? Start with statistics, programming, and data manipulation, Bellassai says.
“If there are courses in these topics available for you to take at your school, take them,” she says. “There are also plenty of free online courses available that will teach you the same information. Regardless of your coursework, you should have some experience with SQL, R, or Python. Experience working with different types of databases will help, too. Do an internship in the field if that option is available to you. I’d also recommend doing some data analysis on a public dataset that interests you and putting that in a public GitHub repository that you link from your resume.”
Engineers work on different products, structures, and systems by inventing, designing, developing, and testing them. While there are many different types of engineers, all engineers apply math and science to solve problems. There are physical engineers like environmental engineers, civil engineers, and aerospace engineers, who might design a water reclamation facility, bridge, or satellite, respectively. There are also different types of software engineers, from software engineers who work on security to those who work on the front end of software.
What Do You Need to Succeed as an Engineer?
Engineers need specific technical skills depending on the type of engineering they do; for example, physical engineers may need manufacturing skills or knowledge of robotics, while software engineers need programming skills.
Use programming skills to create and improve features for a life simulation game like The Sims.
Avg. Time: 5-6 hours
Skills you’ll build: Code analysis, code readability, class design, object-oriented design, data structures
Regardless of what kind of engineer you are, Frank Panetta, engineer manager at Forage, says people who succeed in engineering have strong analytical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, and a keen eye for detail.
“They thrive in both independent and collaborative settings, are able to adapt to fast-paced environments and have a passion for continuous learning,” he says. “Good communication skills are also important in software engineering roles to facilitate team collaborations and to understand and solve clients’ needs.”
How to Become an Engineer
If you’re interested in becoming a physical engineer, it’s likely you’ll need to take courses in the type of engineering you’re interested in. Start by exploring different types of engineering, and decide what niche interests you to figure out what specific technical skills you need to acquire.
“Becoming familiar with databases, version control systems, and software development methodologies like Agile can also be beneficial,” he says. “Working on hands-on projects, either individually or as part of a team, is a practical way to apply classroom knowledge. Participating in internships, coding bootcamps, or open-source projects can provide real-world experience.”
Learn the basics of Agile software development and use Agile practices in a real-world work scenario.
Avg. Time: 4-5 hours
Skills you’ll build: Agile methodology, sprints, product backlog, scrum roles
Product managers are the CEO of the product, meaning they both help set the strategy and vision, and help coordinate with different departments to carry it out. While product managers don’t always need the in-depth technical knowledge that other roles in the industry do, they do need breadth of knowledge to be able to communicate across teams.
What Do You Need to Succeed as a Product Manager?
There are two main skill sets you need to succeed in product management: strategy and communication skills.
“You need to be able to think long term and prioritize ruthlessly,” Annabel Gurney, product manager at Forage, says. “Problem-solving and direction-setting is crucial. You need to be able to interpret results and make informed decisions off them. There is a bit of gut feel, but you have to be able to use research to know what to do next.”
Once you’ve set the strategy, you then need the right collaboration skills to ensure your plan gets carried out.
“Communication and teamwork is absolutely critical,” continues Gurney. “If you can’t communicate and plan, then product would be incredibly challenging.”
How to Become a Product Manager
Building general product management skills, particularly soft skills like communication, can come from all types of school projects, group work, and extracurricular activities.
“Make sure you’re comfortable speaking to different people and putting yourself in uncomfortable scenarios where you need to respond quickly,” Gurney advises. “Presentation practice happens from high school, which can be really helpful.”
Step into the role of a product manager at a video game company and deliver a data-driven presentation.
Avg. Time: 1-2 hours
Skills you’ll build: Critical thinking, problem-solving, performance metrics, project planning
It’s all about building your ability to share and direct information to various groups of people.
“You have to learn how to communicate with different stakeholders,” she says. “Something might be really clear to you and your team, but then you explain it to a different team and realize they have none of the right context. The timing of communication is super important. When do you bring a team in? The frequency of updates, like setting boundaries and communication — those are things that take time and practice to learn.”
Cybersecurity analysts work to ensure that a company is safe from security threats, whether by ensuring employees comply with security measures, assessing vulnerabilities, or responding to any incidents. There are a variety of different subspecialties in cybersecurity, whether you want to focus more on governance, risk, and compliance, or more technical aspects at the network, infrastructure, and application code level.
What Do You Need to Succeed as a Cybersecurity Analyst?
“I think adaptability and flexibility are pretty key,” says Raihana Rahman, senior security analyst at Forage. “I spend a lot of time working alone, but usually in preparation for lots of conversations with multiple stakeholders, so I need to get very comfortable with switching back and forth between dedicated blocks of focused work and back to back Zoom calls.”
Like many technical roles, working in cybersecurity means balancing both the hard skills in your independent work, and soft skills in communicating that work to others.
“The fact that I manage multiple stakeholders internal and external to Forage also means that my communication skills, both written and verbal, need to be extremely on point,” Rahman says. “I don’t always get it right! It’s something I’m always working on improving, especially since I’m often translating tech speak to non-tech stakeholders like our external privacy lawyers or our clients’ risk teams, and then translating legal and compliance speak back to our engineering and product teams.”
How to Become a Cybersecurity Professional
Understanding the technical basics of cybersecurity — like encryption, authentication, access control, and risk management — are crucial for getting into the field, along with networking fundamentals, knowledge of operating systems, and programming and scripting. You don’t necessarily need a degree in cybersecurity to build these skills; there are often online courses and bootcamps that teach the fundamentals.
Craft a phishing email simulation to send to employees and deliver a presentation to improve security awareness.
Avg. Time: 1-2 hours
Skills you’ll build: Technical security awareness, security awareness training, problem-solving, design thinking
Regardless of what area of cybersecurity you choose, Rahman believes building “good communication is extremely key — there’s a lot of documentation involved in any tech role, plus the nature of security is that you’re going to be talking to a lot of people who may not be super technical about what you’re trying to do and why. It’s important to learn how to best get your message across in different formats and to different groups.”
Because cybersecurity sits at the intersection of security and business, she also recommends learning more about how a business works and the industry that business is in.
“It’s useful knowledge and context for designing security systems and programs that a) make sense for the organization and allows them to meet their requirements and obligations, and b) get buy-in from as many folks in the company as possible,” Rahman says.
UX (user experience) designers work to make the experience a user has with a product, website, or app easier, more efficient, and effective. While many technical fields require innovation, UX design specifically focuses on creativity and design skills — while applying technical knowledge to iterate and best meet user needs.
What Do You Need to Succeed as a UX Designer?
Dennis Best, senior product designer at Forage, says there are three key skills for becoming a successful UX designer:
- Collaboration: “This shouldn’t be interpreted as merely listening to what a stakeholder wants,” Best says. “It’s trying to understand why a stakeholder is seeking a particular result. The old Henry Ford adage springs to mind, ‘If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.’ The magic is the combination of your ideas and experience with the client’s (or user’s) goals.”
- Interdisciplinary thinking: Part of the innovation in UX design is “the ability to embrace unexpected connections between things,” Best says. “For example, if you are working on an education site, it would be easy to find ideas by looking at how other education sites currently work. But it’s a lot more fun to look at how video games and music sites organize their content — and you are far more likely to find a more lively solution.”
- Humility: “Most of your ideas will be rejected,” he says. “It can be fun to be wrong.”
Diane Cronenwett, UX designer with nearly 20 years experience and principal at The Experience Standard, emphasizes that it’s not just about working on designs you believe in, but getting other people on your team to understand what you’re going for.
“My advice to anyone in the field is to learn how to align others,” Cronenwett says. “The job is more than design, it’s about consensus building and aligning a team of people around a design. Great designers know how to wrangle a group of people around a vision to execute.”
How to Become a UX Designer
While UX designers need technical skills like wireframing and UX research, the basic principles of design are something you can start doing right now, Best says.
“You should start making things,” he says. “Make things for yourself. For your family. Your wedding invitations, party invitations. goofy websites. Be ready to be judged and to fail.
You’ll be your own worst critic. When I look at everything I’ve done before I cringe. I know I can do better. That’s the fun part.”
Digital Design & UX
Use critical UX design skills like user research and wireframing to design an app for the electric vehicle industry
Avg. Time: 5-6 hours
Skills you’ll build: User research, user personas, mobile design, app design, product design, prototyping
What Tech Job Is Right for Me? The Bottom Line
Technology is a vast industry full of tons of jobs, whether you’re interested in something more creative like UX design, digging into the numbers and becoming a data analyst, or in executing strategy across teams, like in product management.
Answering the question “what tech job is right for me?” means considering not only what technical skills you’d like to develop, but what kind of work environment you’re interested in. Different tech jobs function differently within an organization, and it’s crucial to understand how your working style might match — or not fit! — specific roles.
Start exploring different technical careers with Forage job simulations.