Tech industry careers and technical skills are in demand in today’s digital landscape. Even though there are so many different opportunities in the tech space, there’s a misconception that the industry is exclusive, with limited options to enter it. The truth is there are numerous pathways to tech. Traditional and non-traditional tech majors can open doors to exciting, fulfilling careers in tech-focused and tech-adjacent roles after graduation.
Traditional Tech Majors
Computer science programs focus on the theories and core concepts behind computing. These students learn how computer systems work by gaining skills in algorithms, data structures, and the math behind computing. Studying computer science offers graduates opportunities to be anything from software engineers to system architects.
IT degree programs concentrate on applying technical skills and knowledge to solve problems with computers and devices. IT students learn how to manage and maintain computer systems, networks, databases, and technical support. They often hold careers as administrators, cybersecurity specialists, or consultants.
Software development students dive into the world of designing, developing, and maintaining software applications. They must gain expertise in multiple programming languages, algorithms, data structures, and other key methodologies. After graduation, their experience lends to careers as software engineers or web, mobile app, or game developers.
Math programs revolve around mathematical theories, concepts, and applications. Areas like calculus, algebra, statistics, and other advanced topics are often covered. However, areas like coding and programming may also be involved in the major. Math students can become software developers, data scientists, or work in areas like AI and machine learning.
Non-Traditional Tech Majors
Animation programs teach students all aspects of creating animated content. Students get hands-on experience making 2D, 3D, and motion graphics and learn how to design for different animation styles. According to Tien Nguyen, an animation graduate from Villa Maria College, animation programs empower students to be creative while learning a lot of different technical programs.
“Animators need to know how to use tools like Adobe After Effects and Adobe Premiere, as well as adjust to using AI. My favorite courses allowed me to use these tools and my skills to produce my short animated films from start to finish, including coming up with a story, designing the visuals, and animating the film,” he said.
Tien’s experience helped him start his career as a motion graphics animator at Buffalo advertising agency, Crowley Webb. However, animation majors can also find jobs in product modeling and rendering, and video editing. Another graduate of Villa’s animation program, Dilan Chrysafides, uses his degree as a multimedia designer at Fisher-Price.
“I’m a bit of a generalist when it comes to animation, but I kind of lean into the post-production, final polishing stages like motion graphics and editing, in my current role,” said Dilan.
However, Dilan’s skillset is vast. Like Tien, he also learned to create short films from scratch. Though the process of storyboarding, working on sound design, and actually animating was daunting at times, Dilan appreciates those challenges and the growth he gained as an animator from them.
“Making those short films on my own really helped me excel in my overall knowledge of the field, my technical skills, and discover what aspects of animation I like best,” he said.
Graphic design programs educate students on how to use design principles to help communicate messages visually. Using digital tools like Adobe Photoshop, they work with layouts, color schemes, imagery, and typography to develop logos, websites, advertisements, and other materials. Graphic designers can work in marketing and advertising agencies, publishing houses, in-house marketing departments, or as freelancers.
Game design programs teach students about game development principles like mechanics, level design, storytelling, and production. Using different technical programs and working with developers, they seamlessly blend these pieces to create a fully functional end product for mobile, console, or PC platforms. Graduates have a future working as game designers, testers, or producers for studios, media companies, or independent developers.
Marketing majors dabble in a range of marketing concepts, including strategy, consumer behavior, market research, and more. Marketing students learn to help clients devise marketing plans and promote services or products across different media and platforms. They may work as marketing managers, brand managers, market researchers, or public relations specialists.
Which is Right for You?
Breaking into the tech industry isn’t as complicated as it seems. Many non-traditional majors equip students with valuable technical skills without them even knowing it. Even if your degree program isn’t tech-focused, it can still help you get into tech as long as you gain technical experience and creatively solve problems with technology.
“Typically when you think of an artist, you don’t think of technology. But with animation, it’s an art form where art meets math and science. Animation is all about mimicking real-world things, so you have to understand math, physics, and why we move the way we do. I thrived in that because I could apply my analytical, problem-solving way of thinking, which I’ve always really liked,” said Dilan.
As for what tech degree program you should consider, that depends on your passion.
“I’ve always been fascinated with animation as a storytelling medium. I love seeing how graphics and visuals can be given life just by making them move. And in doing so, they can convey messages and ideas that might not be as striking if they were just static. So it made sense to me to pursue this as my field of study since it’s something I enjoy,” said Tien.