In the first installment of this myth-busting series, I shared research asserting that at least half a million open IT positions are going unfilled in the US. Today’s tweens and teens are a critical part of the solution to this problem, but unfortunately, a number of myths surrounding careers in technology may discourage them from exploring the industry.

Last time, we tackled the myth that all tech careers revolve around coding, math, and science. Today, we’re busting the second myth:

Myth No. 2: Working in Technology Requires a Four-Year Degree

Per the U.S. Census Bureau, 59 percent of computer support specialists employed in 2014 didn’t have a bachelor’s degree. The truth is that many people land jobs in tech with some basic training and a certification. Motivated students can learn the underpinnings of technology and start troubleshooting problems or writing code after one introductory class, no matter at what age they start studying. Sure, many people learn about technology in high school and college, but plenty of others start studying through online programs that are accessible to anyone anywhere.

Furthermore, the traditional route to earning a computer science degree isn’t as narrow as many might expect. The development of intangible skills like being flexible, adaptable, and collaborative can begin in the classroom. These soft skills prepare young people for work in both large organizations and smaller businesses and startups. A structured program at the college level can familiarize students with workplace skills they will need on the job, such as how to function as part of a team and how to follow the directions of a supervisor. Students also can begin to specialize in college, studying information systems, data analytics, and similar courses.

Technology moves quickly, and a four-year degree isn’t a guarantee of success. Like any journey, the key to pursuing a successful technology career is being willing to adjust course while staying focused on the final goal. The one thing we can guarantee about technology is that it will evolve – and so should anyone who works with it.

In my next piece, we debunk the third myth on my list: “If it’s not at Facebook or Google, it’s not a technology job.”

Charles Eaton is executive vice president of social innovation for CompTIA and CEO of Creating IT Futures.

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