What Counts as a Tech Job?

Everyone wants to work in tech. But what makes something a tech job?

portrait of Meg Embry
by Meg Embry

Updated September 15, 2022

Edited by Jennifer Cuellar
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What Counts as a Tech Job?


If you want to be courted by recruiters, have your pick of remote jobs, and pull a serious salary, it's time to get into tech. But what does that mean, exactly?

The demand for tech workers has never been higher. Job-switchers everywhere are trying to figure out how they can take advantage of the tech boom.

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At the same time, there is no real consensus on what constitutes a "tech job” in 2022.

Post-pandemic, computer technology has become so intertwined with how we work across industries that the distinction between tech jobs and traditional jobs has blurred.

What Counts as a Tech Job?

That's why when we asked 105 self-described tech professionals, "What makes a job a 'tech' job?" their answers ran the gamut. They pointed to degrees, experience, coding languages, job duties, company culture, products and services, digital tools, and employers — among other things.

But despite the variety of responses, most could be divided into three major categories.

1

Role-based: You're a Technician

This reading of "tech job" is strictly role-based: you write code or design computers.

"A tech job is one that deals with computer programs, hardware, software, networking, and maintaining systems," says FindPeopleFirst CEO Kimberly Silva. "It is easy to differentiate a tech job from other jobs, since it mainly involves dealing with computers and their systems."

Freeman Smith, Director of Nufactur, agrees: "Nowadays almost every role requires technical skills. But to qualify as a true tech job, the role will handle the underlying technology: writing code, managing databases, installing and maintaining servers, handling cloud services, or designing software architecture.

"A good way to look at it is: if a bug in the product can be traced back to you, you have a tech job!"

According to this role-based definition, the following technical positions qualify as "tech" jobs:

"A good way to look at it is: if a bug in the product can be traced back to you, you have a tech job!"

— Freeman Smith, Director of Nufactur

Technicians are in high demand across industries -- not just the tech industry. According to recent data, fewer than half of technicians work for a tech company. The rest have jobs in non-tech sectors. Banks, retail companies, manufacturing companies, hospitals, schools: they all need software engineers.

2

Product-based: You're in the Tech Ecosystem

Others expand the definition of tech to include anyone who works alongside a technician to help produce software or computer hardware.

While not technicians in the narrow sense, these workers are tech adjacent: They're inside the tech eco-system and support and enable the work of technicians.

They include:

These roles also tend to require a high degree of technical literacy.

3

Company-based: You're a Tech Company Employee

Others have a company-based understanding of tech jobs: that is, anyone who works at a tech company like Google or Apple has a tech job.

"Nowadays, working in tech can mean a wide range of things," said Lisa Nuessle, Senior Growth Lead at Iron Hack. "I classify it as working at a tech company that is providing technical solutions or software. Regardless of your role -- marketing, sales, operations, etcetera -- you are focused on providing one solution for your clients. And many of these roles also utilize software to increase productivity and drive business results."

It might seem like a stretch to say that a recruiter or an accountant employed by Google has a tech job. But when most people of think of tech jobs they tend to think of the perks first: like high salaries, generous stock options, ping-pong tables, nap pods, and kombucha on tap.

If you don't have a computer science degree or the patience to write code all day but still want the perks that come with working in tech, landing a non-technical role at a major tech company can be a great way to get them.

Consider roles in departments like:

When it comes to tech jobs, there's something for everyone.


Feature Image: Cecilie_Arcurs / E+ / Getty Images

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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