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A big selling point for a career change to tech is the short amount of time it takes to get up to speed with tech skills and become job-ready. Unlike industries that require a degree you might not already have (and that you’d have to spend years in school and thousands of dollars in student debt to get), tech jobs are skill-based—knowing how to do the job and achieve results is what matters.
To give you a concrete example of how quick it can be to learn tech skills, one of the most fundamental tools for making websites—HTML, a markup language used for defining the parts of a webpage—can literally be learned in a matter of weeks.
Of course there are more skills to learn on top of HTML, but here’s the thing—you can start making money in tech with nothing more than those basic HTML skills and some knowledge of HTML’s cousin language CSS (used to add style elements like colors, font type, and page formatting to HTML’s page definitions).
Just by picking up HTML and CSS fundamentals you’ll be opening the door to a number of remote-friendly freelance opportunities, part-time jobs, and possibly even a full-time job, all of which will pay you for what you already know while providing valuable on-the-job training and work experience.
To give you some examples of the kind of positions HTML-versed job seekers can start looking for, our CEO Adda Birnir put together a list nine jobs you can get once you learn HTML.
1. Build a Personal Website for a Client
Because tech job skills are so practical, diving in and getting your hands dirty is really the best way to learn—nothing will teach you how to code better than doing it yourself. At the same time, tech skills are also so practical that people will be willing to pay you for your hands-on learning efforts. A great way to break in to paid work is to offer your services to a client who needs a personal website.
Whether it’s a friend, a family member, or a professional acquaintance you’ve made through networking, start putting your feelers out for people who could use a basic personal website, then offer to build a website for a reasonable fee using your HTML and CSS skills. It’s a win-win for everyone involved—the client gets a website, and you get work experience and a paycheck.
2. Customize a Tumblr Blog For a Client
While HTML and CSS skills can land you job opportunities building personal websites, they can also make it possible for you to get paid customizing client’s blogs on platforms like Tumblr. Although Tumblr provides users with a number of stock themes out of the box, it’s possible to create custom themes with HTML that can address specific and unique client needs and help a client’s blog stand out from the cookie cutter pack.
Wyndsor Hug’s Ad Council Custom Responsive Tumblr Theme on Behance is a perfect example:
Yes, HTML is versatile enough to use for hand-coding websites while also allowing customization of popular blogging platforms (again, with a learning curve of only weeks), which goes to show what a critical skill it is to pick up.
3. Set Up a WordPress.com Site
WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS)—a type of software application that lets you create, publish, and manage digital content online—but there are two different tiers of WordPress platforms. WordPress.org is a software platform that needs to be downloaded and installed on a web server and requires a certain amount of technical and coding know-how to use properly. WordPress.com, however, is a blog hosting platform that can be used with zero tech or coding skills.
People who use WordPress.com without knowing how to code are limited to using the stock templates that come with the platform—and while that’s fine for many uses, if you want to tweak or customize any of them, you have to use HTML and CSS. And so, if you’re not ready to take on a job as a full-blown WordPress developer yet (using WordPress.org), you can find a client who wants to give their WordPress.com blog a custom makeover and make it happen with the HTML and CSS you’ve learned so far.
4. Create a Custom Email Template
According to inbound marketing giant HubSpot, emails continue to be a critical part of marketing campaigns. With 86 percent of professionals prefering to use email to communicate for business purposes, and Google’s email service Gmail topping 1 billion users worldwide, emails reach a lot of people—but that means any email marketing campaign that’s going to stand out from the pack is going to need a customized email template.
Yes, email customization is another HTML/CSS sideline where you can start getting paid while you’re tech skills are still coming together. Email marketing services like MailChimp offer stock email templates, but they also allow a wide range of customization options if you have HTML and CSS skills.
Michele Mielcarz MailChip email template on Behance shows what you can do with email customization:
It doesn’t take more than some basic markup know-how to create templates that can get you paid, either through freelance gig work, or as a raise-worthy duty at your full-time job.
5. Offer Your Services as a Webmaster for a Local Small Business or Nonprofit
Much like building personal websites for clients you know, a good way to get your foot in the door as webmaster while you’re still learning tech skills is to look for opportunities at small local businesses or nonprofits. Smaller businesses with less intensive web needs will be more likely to hire tech beginners (particularly if you’re not asking to start at the top of the payscale), meaning you can get paid while getting critical resume work experience.
6. Get a Job as a Website Producer
If you’re transitioning from a professional career where you had project management experience and you know your way around HTML and CSS, you can try to put all of those skills together and get a job as a website producer. Website producers oversee the web development project, but don’t necessarily have their hands in every aspect of the coding process. Different than web development itself, web production job duties involve editing, arranging, and creating the content that goes on a website.
Producers are also responsible for optimizing that content for users and search engines, in order to drive traffic the company website. While the more tech skills you have, the more versatile you’ll be as a producer (particularly if you are skilled in search engine optimization), if you can make up the deficit with management and content creation experience, HTML and CSS can be enough to get you in the door. Once you’re in, you’ll be in prime position to build up additional tech skills and learn about every step of the web development process.
7. Get a Social Media Manager Job
Another tech role focused on driving traffic to company websites and online social media accounts is social media manager. Social media managers’ job duties focus on developing relevant content ideas that will resonate with a company’s customer base and generate online traffic, mentions, and viral brand interest. If you’re already social media savvy—either through work experience at a previous job or your own personal adventures—you can add that know-how to your burgeoning HTML and CSS skills and present an irresistibly hireable package to potential employers.
Pulling together some of the individual ideas listed above, your ability to create custom email templates and to customize Tumblr and WordPress content using HTML and CSS can virally market yourself into a dream job.
8. Become a Junior Web Developer
While HTML and CSS might not seem like enough to make it as a developer, it can definitely be enough to get you started—that’s what junior web developer positions are for. At large tech companies where developer teams are big enough to differentiate by skill and experience level, it’s possible to land an entry-level junior developer job even if all you know is HTML and CSS. Using those skills to do basic legwork on the front lines, you can learn from developers above you in the pecking order while collecting a tech paycheck.
9. Consider Work as a Quality Assurance Engineer
Quality assurance engineers’ job duties involve creating tests that are used to find any problems (or bugs) before software, websites, or applications are launched. Where QA engineer jobs shine as an entry point into tech is that they don’t require heavy coding skills—you won’t actually build anything yourself, but you WILL get a very deep understanding of how sites are built, and work side by side helping site’s developers to debug issues that come up in the code. HTML and CSS won’t be critical parts of a QA Engineer job, but they will help with your understanding of the development process (as will any experience you can get ahead of time with SQL databases and web testing procedures).
Adda is not only the CEO and founder of Skillcrush, but also an instructor. With her self-taught tech skills, she’s worked on building sites for the New York Times, ProPublica and MTV.