WomenTech World Home: An IWITTS Site

I don't have any background in technology.

Is technology a tough field for women to break into?

Am I too old for a tech career?

How will I be able to find a job with all these tech layoffs?

Information on education for a technical career.

Getting financial aid information for my technical education.

How much math do I really need?

How do I find out what tech courses I should take?

How long does completing a technology program take?

How will high school prepare me for a technology career?

Q. I don't have any background in technology. Can I still work in a tech career?
A. Absolutely. Even if you have never touched a computer or participated in hands-on technical activities, you can be successful in a technology career. You will need to undergo some additional training and/or education, but lots of women have successfully switched to a technical career when they did not have a background in technology. For some inspiring stories, click here to view our role models. You may want to consider some of the following options to get some help or to get started:
  • Look into obtaining an Associate's degree at a community college. Returning to school may seem intimidating, but lots of women have followed this avenue successfully and are now pursuing lucrative new careers in a technology field. Community colleges offer a variety of degrees, financial aid and flexible scheduling for people with busy lives just like you. Associate's degrees can usually be completed within two years. If you consider the long-term benefits of a higher wage and a more satisfying career, a two-year investment is well worth it.
  • Consider a Technical Certificate. You can earn a Certificate in 6 to 12 months from either a community college or vocational school, both of which offer flexible scheduling and financial assistance. A Certificate trains you to qualify for a specific job, such as automotive technology or computer networking, and is an excellent way to start a new career and start earning more money quickly.
  • Begin networking with women in technology fields to get more information and inspiration. Connecting to women who may have once been in your position may help you realize that pursuing a technology career is a realistic goal and that it can be done! You may even find a mentor to give you some guidance on how to achieve your goals. Join WomenTech Talk or visit our Bulletin Board to begin networking, click here.
Q. Technology is mostly male. Is it a tough field for a woman to break into?
A. Lots of women have successfully entered technology fields. Click here to see our WomenTech role models for some inspiring examples. It can be more difficult for a woman to prove herself, but there are lots of places you can turn to for support. Surf the web to find women's professional associations specific to the industry you're interested in. These are a great source of advocacy and support and you may find that there are more women working in technology than you first thought. Our links will bring you to many of them.
Q. Am I too old for a tech career? I understand it's a young field and if you're over 30 you can't get employed.
A. Many of our WomenTech role models are over 30 and have achieved highly successful careers in technology. See our role model profiles for some inspiring stories. You may have to work harder to prove yourself initially, but it can be done! To view our role model bios, click here.

Q. Will employers hire me? How will I be able to find a job with all these tech layoffs?
A. While the Dot-com era has slowed down, there is still a need for qualified technicians in all levels of industry:
  • The Internet remains a fundamental component of business and commerce and many established companies are still in the process of developing their Web sites for e-commerce. Other smaller companies are following suit by developing e-commerce portions of their business and will do so in the future as the Internet continues to evolve as an integral part of all business and commerce. Furthermore, computer network specialists are still in demand for already established and expanding companies. This means there is still a need for qualified computer technicians at all levels. It may be more competitive now than it was a few years ago, but technical jobs will remain a crucial part of the economy and job market and will continue to grow and develop in the future.
  • Technicians are still in short supply in industries such as Automotive, Diesel Transportation, Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning, Telecommunications and Electronics. Furthermore, jobs in these industries usually offer more stable work hours and pay scales as well as great benefits and retirement packages. Some education or certification is usually required to enter these fields as well, but that can usually be accomplished in two years or less. Some certificates only take six months to complete.
Q. Where do I get information on education for a technical career?
A. With today's internet-connected world, there are many resources available for obtaining a technical education. Start with some of the possibilities below:
  • Community Colleges are an excellent and affordable resource for receiving a technical education. They offer both degree and certificate programs. An Associates Degree can usually be obtained in two years of full-time classes, while a certificate can be earned in as little as 6-12 months of full-time classes. Community Colleges also offer day and evening classes, so scheduling around a job or family is much easier. Financial aid, scholarships and grants are available. Search the net for a community college in your area by going to community college finder at http://www.aacc.nche.edu
  • Trade and Technical schools are another practical and affordable option for those seeking education for technical careers. Schedules are flexible and most programs can be completed in under a year. These schools offer targeted certificate and degree programs that qualify you for a specific career. Most trade and technical schools offer job placement assistance as well as financial aid. Look in your area for local trade and technical schools or try searching this Internet site: http://www.nccte.com
  • Try connecting with other women in the industry for valuable information on how they got there and how you can achieve similar goals.
Q. I can't afford a technical education on my own. How can I get information on financial aid?
A. There is a surprising amount of untapped resources available for assistance with the cost of education. Sometimes this may require a little extra effort on your part, but resources are available. Try some of the following suggestions to get started:
  • If pursuing funding for an education, you can always find personalized assistance in the Financial Aid office of your local Community College or Trade/Technical School. Look in your area to see what educational institutions are available to you at www.ed.gov/
  • The Internet is an excellent resource for finding grants and scholarships. Many scholarships are available for specific careers, as well as general study. As a woman considering a technical field, you have a particular advantage as some scholarships are targeted specifically for women. Try the following links to get started, or perform your own search on the Internet using the key words, "scholarship database":
    - Fastaid: http://www.fastaid.com
    - Fastweb: http://web.studentservices.com/
    - Absolutely Scholarships.com: http://www.absolutelyscholarships.com/
  • Look into state and federally funded family programs, especially if you are a single parent. While funds may be sometimes limited, help is available for financial assistance with childcare and tuition costs. Speak to a counselor at your local community college for guidance on resources.
Q. How much math do I really need? I was never good at math and I'm worried I'll fail the prerequisite math courses.
A. Many students have a fear of math or math anxiety. The amount of math needed depends on the technology program. Some programs require pre-algebra, others require none. The math required for the technology programs is "hands-on" and is very different from classroom algebra. Most students find math more interesting when they actually use it in the classroom. Visit the learning lab at the local community college for assistance.

Q. I'm not sure what courses I need to take for the tech program I'm interested in. Where can I go for help?
A. You have several options to get more information:
Make an appointment with a counselor at the school you are considering or speak with an instructor.

Q. How long will it take for me to complete a technology program? I can't afford to do anything long term, I need to earn money as quickly as possible.
A. Certificate programs can take anywhere from 6-12 months to complete, depending on your attendance while an Associate Degree usually takes up to two years of full-time attendance. Here are some ways to make your community college experience more efficient:
  • Consider a certificate. Many of the technology programs have certificates - if you attend full-time you can often complete a certificate in only six months. Many employers will hire employees with a technology certificate and then provide tuition reimbursement for courses towards an Associate in Science degree in the same field.
  • Consider a student loan. Student loans are easy to get and offer very reasonable interest rates and manageable monthly payments after graduation. Many financial aid packages offer a combination of scholarships and grants along with the student loan, reducing the overall amount that needs to be paid back. Borrowing money to attend school full-time will enable you to earn your degree in significantly less time than attending part-time. For more information on what forms of financial aid are available, go to http://www.ed.gov/offices/OSFAP/Students/student.html or http://www.salliemae.com/loans/index.html.
Q. As a high school student, how can I gain knowledge and skills that will prepare me for a technology career?
A. In some cases, high school students may enroll in two-year colleges as special part-time students with a recommendation by their principal, parental consent and approval by the District Dean of Admissions & Records. Units earned may be used for either high school credit or college credit. This is a great way to get a head start if you already know what technology career you are interested in.



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