29- year-old makes $125,000 operating in tech without a bachelor’s degree– here’s how

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This story belongs to CNBC Make It’s Ditching the Degree series, where females who have actually constructed six-figure professions without a bachelor’s degree expose the tricks of their success. Got a story to inform? Let us understand! Email us at As kMakeIt @cnbc. com.

Ayana Dunlap had her dream task chose before she even finished high school.

She would invest her adult life someplace unique behind the front desk of a hotel in a designer match assisting visitors, much like the sleek females she fulfilled on trip with her mama.

For a while, Dunlap lived out her youth dream. She landed her very first front desk task when she was 18 at a little hotel near Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, right before finishing high school, and continued to operate at hotels well into her 20 s.

“I thought I found my forever career,” she informs CNBC MakeIt

In college, she picked to pursue a partner’s degree in service administration, believing the concentration– and the much shorter timeline to graduation, compared to a bachelor’s degree– would bring her one action more detailed to ending up being a hotel supervisor. Dunlap finished from Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania in 2016.

Now, the 29- year-old make fun of the strategies she made practically 10 years back.

Dunlap was among the countless hotel and dining establishment workers who lost their tasks in 2020 at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and were pressed into brand-new professions as furloughs and lockdowns dragged out.

Even though she does not have the task she desired as a kid, Dunlap discovered a various occupation she enjoys: innovation.

Dunlap has actually been operating in tech given that2020 Currently, she’s the assistant vice president of operations and infotech at the Bank Policy Institute, a public law, research study and advocacy group that represents U.S. banks in Washington, D.C.

She’s making about $125,000 in her function, according to monetary files examined by CNBC Make It– an income that Dunlap states would have been “unimaginable” at this moment in her profession, had she remained in hospitality.

Here’s how she rotated her profession and makes 6 figures without a bachelor’s degree:

Getting into IT without experience

Dunlap jokes that she was operating in tech long before it ended up being main, as her older colleagues would concern her for computer system aid at almost every task she’s had.

She relocated to the Washington, D.C. location right after college and invested a number of years working for Widewaters Hotel Group & & Magna Hospitality Group on their sales group, out of various hotels in the DMV location. Right before the pandemic begun, she worked as a senior sales supervisor out of the Hilton Garden Inn Tysons Corner.

“I was the youngest person on my team, and always getting pulled to unfreeze computer screens, edit documents and refresh WiFi connections,” she states. “But I didn’t mind it, I always thought it was fun.”

Dunlap didn’t think about turning her propensity for computer systems into her profession till she was laid off from her sales task in June2020

Weeks after losing her task, she keeps in mind sitting cross-legged on her bed room flooring, venting to her buddies on FaceTime, sensation “anxious and unsure” about what to do next.

“I spent years working in the same industry and building up my career, only for the pandemic to put it on an indefinite hold,” she remembers.

One of her buddies discussed a totally free online course that she had actually seen promoted on Google: a 15- week IT support course from Per Scholas, a nationwide tech training non-profit headquartered in NewYork

As part of the course, Dunlap would get 3 accreditations: A Google IT support certificate, CompTIA Security+ accreditation and CompTIA Network+ accreditation. Another advantage: Per Scholas partners with companies throughout the U.S. to hire and advise prospects from their bootcamp for open tech functions.

Dunlap began the Per Scholas program in August and finished in November with a deal for a hybrid task in hand as a tier 2 technical assistance engineer at designDATA, an IT services and seeking advice from firm headquartered in Gaithersburg,Maryland

While working there, Dunlap was entrusted with assisting companies prepare to go back to the workplace, by establishing their desktops, routers and printers on-site.

One of those companies, the Bank Policy Institute, would make Dunlap a deal she states she could not decline.

Some of the abilities that assisted Dunlap shift into tech without a bachelor’s degree consisted of oft abilities she found out while operating in hotels, specifically, interaction and customer support.

Photo: Dyanne Dunlap

Skills worth 6 figures

After weeks of assisting the Bank Policy Institute preparation for their go back to the workplace, its president and CEO, Greg Baer, welcomed Dunlap to deal with them full-time.

Dunlap was reluctant to leave designDATA, having actually worked there for simply under a year, however those doubts dissipated as quickly as she got her deal letter.

The Bank Policy Institute wished to offer her a much better title– Assistant Vice President of Operations and Information Technology– and more cash. Dunlap’s beginning income would be $80,000, which was “competitively more” than what she was making at designDATA (she decreased to share her specific income).

Dunlap began her brand-new function in August2021 She’s got 2 raises given that signing up with the Bank Policy Institute, based upon task examinations and handling more duties. The initially, in 2022, bumped her income to about $98,000 A subsequent raise, reliable in January, raised her yearly payment to $125,000

The IT and AV assistance abilities Dunlap found out in the Per Scholas program– analytical, comprehending various os and identifying software application or hardware faults– played a huge function in her capability to shift into tech without a bachelor’s degree. But so did the soft abilities she got while operating in hotels, specifically interaction and customer support.

Customer service, in specific, is a “game-changer” that can assist you stand apart from other prospects contending for the very same tech task, Dunlap includes.

“I think a lot of people forget that being patient and friendly is so important when you’re helping people with stressful computer issues,” she discusses. “I was told, directly, that having that skillset, just by working in hospitality, was a huge bonus.”

Dunlap’s greatest piece of guidance for others intending to land a high-paying task without a bachelor’s degree? Don’t ignore the worth of your transferable abilities.

“Sometimes, society deems people who don’t have a four-year degree as uneducated, but just because you choose not to pursue that doesn’t mean you can’t educate yourself in other ways and bring value to the table. You can read books, take boot camps online, there are so many ways to improve your skills,” she states. “If you take stock of what you’re good at and lean into that, you’ll go far in your career.”

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