What is Tech?
It might seem obvious what “tech” includes and what it does not. Using a virtual assistant on your phone feels like a use of advanced tech but boiling the kettle is clearly not. So where do the boundaries lie?
Firstly, it is important to clarify that answering this question is not as simple as you may first think. “Tech” can be a rather ambiguous concept and difficult to define since the tech industry is constantly evolving and advancing. Society has been using technology long before it involved the internet or even electronics. Any tool that can be used to achieve a task more efficiently than by hand can be considered technology. And so it follows, that a tool able to achieve a task more efficiently than the previous generation of the tool is an advance in technology. In the same way we consider the keyboard a technology advancement from the typewriter, so was the pen to the stone tablet.
Today technology is everywhere and each tool we use is interlinked to a network of other tools, most commonly via the internet. Whether it is your favourite streaming subscription service connecting to your smart television or your camera to your social media site of choice, the connections around us are unavoidable. The tech industry encompasses all the knowledge, processes and methods used to build these tools and connections. A common misconception of the tech industry, however, is that it involves a lot of writing code or wiring together servers. While these jobs do exist and are vital components, there are so many other disciplines within modern technology that are often forgotten about. From scrum masters and business analysts to architects and UI designers, the roles available in tech and the skills required therein are just as broad and exciting as the tech industry itself.
Ultimately, the tech industry consists of organisations that innovate and create. Whether offering consumer goods or services, any organisation focussed on innovating and inventing new tools can often be considered a tech company. This is true for companies that offer “tech” as their main product or service, such as Apple or use innovative technology to disrupt well established industries such as Amazon (retail) or Uber (transport).
Areas of Tech
There are so many different areas of tech that it can be pretty confusing figuring out which ones are most important, which are exciting and modern, and which you might like to aim for! Here at Break Into Tech, we’ve categorised all of tech into 10 main areas.
- Big Data
- Cyber Security
- Data Science
- Service Management
- Systems and Infrastructure
- Web/App Design
Every area has plenty of potential for a high-flying career and most people will spend time working in or across multiple areas since they are not strict silos. We don’t have space on this page to describe every area to you, so use the below links to get an intro to each area and explore some of the possible entry-level positions.
Find the typical job roles for each area here.
Find dedicated learning paths for each area here.
A few of the especially headline-grabbing and desirable areas of tech for newcomers include Data Science, Cloud, and Development. But if (like most people) you are having a hard time deciding where to start, we’ve got a short tech-personality quiz to give you some guidance!
The Start-Up Industry
The first thing many people think of when imagining tech jobs is wearing hoodies to work, free coffee (or beer) on hand, and dogs roaming freely round the office. Within the tech industry itself this work culture is often associated with “start-ups” – that is a smaller tech company which consists of just a handful of people focussing on making an idea a reality – regardless of the losses taken. Many of the biggest tech companies around today started in this state: Google, Facebook and Twitter are all prime examples of companies whose origins lie in the start-up industry.
Since the main role of a start-up is to determine if there is a market for the idea and if it is financially viable, their future is generally unstable. And to be honest, most start-ups fail, not because the people behind it do not have the business acumen to make it succeed, but instead because they failed to find a financially viable market for the product they were developing.
Some start-ups do, however, go on to succeed There is no set amount of time after which a company is no longer a start-up but generally once a company starts making enough profit to be self-sustainable it might be considered a small business or otherwise.
The important thing to note here, is that the start-up industry is just a small subset of the tech industry. So if wearing flip-flops in the office and sitting in a bean bag for most the day aren’t right for you, don’t worry! There’s loads more on offer.
As mentioned previously, tech is a vast industry that does not necessarily involve selling technology as your main product. As such it can be convenient to try to categorise companies based on the sector that they are disrupting.
EdTech – Education + Technology. As the name gives away, EdTech is the use of technology to enhance learning and teaching. You may be familiar with many of these from your own independent research or even from the classroom. Duolingo and Turnitin are examples of companies that have encountered rapid growth in recent years.
FoodTech – Food + Technology. FoodTech is about the distribution of food using the latest science and technology. Some might consider Deliveroo and Uber Eats examples of FoodTech companies. There is a subset of FoodTech known as AgTech (Agriculture + Tech) which considers innovative methods of improving the supply chain. Vertical farming, lab grown meats and smart sensors are all examples of ideas that are coming out of the AgTech and FoodTech industries.
FinTech – Finance + Technology. FinTech is one of the most disruptive tech industries that exists today. As many large banks are slow to pivot and introduce technological innovation, young FinTech firms have stepped in and are starting to overtake. These include challenger banks, smart budgeting services and investment platforms.
EntertainmentTech – Entertainment + Technology. EntertainmentTech isn’t a hard one to guess! Nowadays we would consider Netflix and Spotify as the dominating players in this market but just a few years ago these were outranked by Blockbuster and iTunes.
MedTech – Medicine + Technology. MedTech is particularly relevant as the world recovers from the effects of COVID-19. It includes everything to do with enhancing the delivery of healthcare to patients. For example, using artificial intelligence to find cancerous tissues much earlier than traditional, invasive methods would be able to. Data privacy is a particularly hot topic in this area.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the sub-sectors that exists within tech and there are always new areas appearing. LegalTech and FashionTech are all up and coming industries which are innovating and growing day by day.
Interested in breaking into tech? Computer science degree not required! Learn how to get started with our zero-to-hero instructions.