10 Technical Careers to Study at Night (or Any Time)

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Discover new technical skills to learn on your own schedule and the career opportunities that may be available.

[Featured image] A web developer maps out the design for a new website on a white board using colorful markers and sticky notes.

Just as remote work has become more prevalent, so have flexible learning options, making it easier to learn new career skills at night, between other obligations, or even while waiting in line at the grocery store.

Previously, night classes at your local community college or vocational school may have been your best option for studying a technical career at night. Now, you can enroll in certificate programs and bootcamps that offer virtual and asynchronous courses, available at any time, from anywhere with an internet connection.

Similar to technical vocational careers, such as electricians, mechanics, and plumbers, the careers we explore here often require problem-solving, troubleshooting, and specialized knowledge of systems. However, the nature of the work tends to be less physically demanding.

In this article, we’ll detail ten careers in information technology (IT), data, and software development that emphasize technical skills and that you can learn on your own time. We also include US salary and job growth information, as determined by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

1. IT support specialist

  • Median salary: $59,660

  • Job growth outlook: 5% (faster than average)

An IT support specialist maintains computer systems and troubleshoots user issues. An IT support specialist needs technical knowledge, as well as strong people skills, as they’ll be the ones people turn to for help resolving computer problems.

There’s no standard education requirement to become an IT support specialist. However, you will typically need to demonstrate competency in dealing with computer systems. You can do this through formal education or entry-level IT certification. According to Zippia, 51 percent of people with this job title hold a bachelor’s degree, and 33 percent have an associate degree, often in computer science, computer information systems, or business [1].

2. IT project manager

  • Median salary: $95,370

  • Job growth outlook: 6% (faster than average)

An IT project manager plans and executes an organization’s IT projects, such as introducing new software or developing new internal IT processes. They may manage budgets, maintain project schedules, and lead risk management and mitigation efforts.

To become an IT project manager, it can help to have knowledge of IT processes to effectively work with IT managers and communicate with outside vendors and company leadership. In some cases, you can boost your credentials with a project management certification. Among IT project managers, 68 percent have a bachelor’s degree, 18 percent have a master’s degree, and 10 percent have an associate degree, according to Zippia [2].

3. Cybersecurity analyst

  • Median salary: $112,000

  • Job growth outlook: 32% (much faster than average)

Cybersecurity analysts, and closely related information security analysts, keep computer systems safe from external threats such as cyberattacks and data breaches. They often work in industries where sensitive and classified information is key to operations, such as government, business, finance, or technology.

Many information security analysts have a bachelor’s degree—62 percent, according to Zippia—while 20 percent have an associate degree [3]. Additionally, there are plenty of cybersecurity career paths to advance toward, such as security engineering, incident response, or ethical hacking. Depending on your chosen path, you may eventually want to bolster your credentials with a certification.

4. Data analyst

  • Median salary: $85,780

  • Job growth outlook: 23% (much faster than average)

A data analyst uses data to answer questions and solve problems. Data analysis tends to have broad applications across many fields. For example, market research analysts may examine consumer behavior, while business data analysts may work to improve a company’s supply chain.

According to Zippia, 65 percent of data analysts have a bachelor’s degree, while 12 percent have an associate degree and 15 percent have a master’s degree [4]. However, becoming a data analyst without a degree is possible if you have foundational knowledge and technical skills like Python and SQL. Building a data analytics portfolio can be one way to demonstrate your skills early in your career.

5. Data scientist

  • Median salary: $103,500

  • Job growth outlook: 35% (much faster than average)

Whereas data analysts use data to find answers, data scientists determine the questions worth asking and figure out how to answer those questions using data. Data scientists typically need more extensive technical knowledge to build predictive models and develop data systems.

Data science is typically seen as a more advanced position, with many data scientists coming into the role after some experience working with data or studying computer science. According to Zippia, 51 percent of data scientists have a bachelor’s degree, while 34 percent have a master’s degree [5]. However, like many technical roles, getting a job as a data scientist is possible if you can demonstrate your skills through other certifications and a solid portfolio.

6. Data engineer

  • Median salary: $112,120

  • Job growth outlook: 8% (faster than average)

Data engineers build systems that collect and store the information that data scientists and data analysts use. Their work is closely related to that of a data architect, who designs the frameworks that data engineers bring to life. Data engineers also leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate different data related tasks.

Since a data engineer’s role is highly technical, many people in this profession pursue a formal computer science or electrical engineering education. According to Zippia, 65 percent of data engineers have a bachelor’s degree, 22 percent have a master’s degree, and 7 percent have an associate degree [6]. Many people also build data engineering skills through certifications and other similar programs.

7. UX designer

  • Median salary: $83,240

  • Job growth outlook: 16% (much faster than average)

A user experience (UX) designer aims to make products easy and enjoyable to use. They typically do this by applying creative thinking and problem-solving skills to various stages of research, testing, and analysis. UX designers often work with a digital product—such as a website or an app—though UX designers may also work with physical products or services.

A majority of UX designers have a bachelor’s degree—71 percent, according to Zippia [7]—although not all companies require entry-level UX designers to have a degree if they demonstrate the necessary skills. Earning a UX credential and building a portfolio may be enough to land your first UX role.

8. Web developer

  • Median salary: $78,580

  • Job growth outlook: 16% (much faster than average)

Web developers build and maintain websites. They may focus on front-end development (the way a website appears to a visitor), back-end development (the website’s internal structure and code), or full-stack development (both front-end and back-end).

According to Zippia, 71 percent of web developers have a bachelor’s degree, 14 percent have a master’s degree, and 11 percent have an associate degree [8]. However, with web development, attaining a specific education level may not be as important as demonstrating proficiency in key technical skills. Web development can also be a lucrative side hustle or freelance career.

9. Application developer

  • Median salary: $124,200

  • Job growth outlook: 25% (much faster than average)

Application developers build the software that businesses and people use, either within computer systems or for mobile. They are technically skilled in programming languages like JavaScript, HTML, and Python and may have further specializations in cloud, Android, or iOS development. In some cases, they make use of AI and machine learning tools to create intelligent software applications.

Zippia estimates that 71 percent of app developers have a bachelor’s degree, 18 percent have a master’s degree, and 7 percent have an associate degree [9]. Since app development is an evolving field, people may pursue further education opportunities over the course of their careers through formal degrees, bootcamps, or certifications.

10. DevOps engineer

  • Median salary: $109,020

  • Job growth outlook: 25% (much faster than average)

DevOps stands for “development operations.” A DevOps engineer coordinates the development and maintenance of a company’s software. They work across teams to manage software development, quality assurance, security, and updates.

DevOps engineers generally need strong coding and programming skills, project management skills, and knowledge of how to deploy AI and machine learning applications. Building skills in these areas can be a good starting point. Many people—75 percent, according to Zippia—grow their skills through a bachelor’s degree program in computer science, engineering, or information technology. Another 20 percent of DevOps engineers have a master’s degree, while 2 percent have an associate degree [10].

Read more: What Is AIOps? Definition, Examples, and Use Cases

Start your technical career with Coursera

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To add AI and machine learning to your technical training and explore their roles in different industries, consider these offerings:

Article sources


Zippia. “Computer Support Specialist Education Requirements, https://www.zippia.com/computer-support-specialist-jobs/education/.” Accessed October 23, 2023.

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