scorecardI became a data analyst and grew my salary 5x without working in Big Tech. Non-tech companies offer more flexibility and less stress.
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I became a data analyst and grew my salary 5x without working in Big Tech. Non-tech companies offer more flexibility and less stress.

Charlotte Chaze   

I became a data analyst and grew my salary 5x without working in Big Tech. Non-tech companies offer more flexibility and less stress.
Careers5 min read
  • Charlotte Chaze is a 33-year-old former data analyst and researcher.
  • Landing a tech job in a non-tech company allowed her to achieve her dream life, with a high salary, flexibility, and stability.

When I was 28, I realized my career wasn't worth it.

I was making $28,000 a year and working 50- to 60-hour weeks as a researcher in academia. Horrifically low salaries are normalized in the industry, so I subconsciously believed I didn't deserve to make more. I felt guilty when I first realized I wanted more money and real work-life balance.

One day, I had an epiphany. I realized getting my boss' job was the best possible trajectory for my career. But he was working considerably more hours than me and wasn't making what I'd consider fair pay. I didn't want that. I wanted to make enough money to go from surviving to thriving.

Landing a data analyst job helped me achieve the life I had dreamed of

I started looking at job boards and saw a ton of data analyst positions, with an average starting salary of around $70,000, in 2018. I used free websites to teach myself data analytics, and then I started applying for jobs in Philadelphia because I wanted to leave Delaware, where I'd been living for two years.

Within a couple of months, I landed an analytics associate position at a consulting firm in Philadelphia and moved there.

Suddenly I was bringing in a $70,000 salary — over twice what I was making before — which brought on an overwhelmingly positive lifestyle change. I could afford to live in the city, buy whatever I wanted (within reason), and finally start saving money for my future.

My salary increased to $158,000 over the course of four years

While my pay had increased, my hours were still crazy because I was at a consulting firm. I realized that most of us aren't saving the world at our jobs — we're just helping our corporate overlords make more money — so there was no reason to dedicate that many hours to work.

After a few months, I started applying to other data analyst positions, specifically looking for positions at typical corporations instead of at consulting firms.

I landed a $90,000 senior analyst job at Comcast. I immediately saw a drastic change in my hours; I was working only 35 to 40 hours a week, and I didn't have to have a single thought about work all weekend.

With the extra time, I started traveling more. I squeezed in quick weekend trips to take my dog on really cool hikes and brought my little sister to Disney World for the first time. I was finally able to start going out to restaurants and exploring the city, which enabled me to start making local friends.

Within two years, I got a promotion that bumped my salary to $104,000. I was able to buy a nice car and then my own home at age 30.

Just when I thought things couldn't get any better, I landed a job as senior manager of advanced analytics at AT&T making a base salary of $158,000.

Making the shift into a tech role helped me achieve a life I'd only dreamed of.

I don't feel that working in Big Tech is worth it

When people think about working a tech job, many think of Big Tech companies like Tesla and Meta, which offer the highest salaries and have a certain air of prestige.

In my opinion, working in Big Tech companies is not worth it because of the incredible downsides like mass layoffs and long work hours. Sure, these companies offer great perks like free meals, beer on tap, and gourmet coffee machines, but in my opinion, these perks are scams — just a way to keep you working longer. Would you rather have a free dinner on campus because you worked until 8 p.m., or leave work at 5 p.m. and eat whatever you want?

This is why I recommend that people search for tech jobs specifically at non-tech companies, such as Home Depot, Kroger, or whatever company owns the last store you walked into — they all hire tech roles.

Non-tech companies give you the best of both worlds:

  • High salaries: Although they might not be quite as high as Big Tech roles, the salaries at non-tech companies can be super competitive, especially if you focus on non-tech companies in the Fortune 500.
  • More flexibility: Working at a Big Tech company means being in a fast-paced and competitive environment, and that results in long hours. But when you work at a non-tech company, 35- to 40-hour weeks are normal and the workload is more conducive to real work-life balance.
  • Less competitive: The Googles of the world are super competitive because they pay the most and you get bragging rights; but even talented, hardworking people with years of experience have difficulty getting jobs there. When you apply for tech jobs at non-tech companies, you're not competing against people who are trying to be the best in the world.

Anyone can get into the tech industry

Once I broke into tech, my life changed dramatically. So, in 2022, I left my job at AT&T and started Break Into Tech, a small business that helps people get their first entry-level data analyst jobs — just like I did.

There's a huge demand for data analysts, with big data analytics being the technology expected to drive the most job creation in the next five years, according to the World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs Report 2023. That's why the job pays so well, even in entry-level roles. And data analyst jobs exist at every big company in every industry.

I advise anyone hoping to land their first data analyst job at a non-tech company to start looking at their current job as an asset and find where it overlaps with data analyst jobs.

For example, healthcare experience gives you a leg up when you apply to healthcare analytics jobs because you're familiar with the data. Find where your current experience will give you an edge and leverage that.

Of course, it's essential to develop technical skills as well. Spend 20 minutes a day learning and practicing skills like SQL and Tableau online, and you'll be ready for an entry-level job in a few months. The imposter syndrome will dissipate when you get your job offer, and you'll be wondering why you didn't do this sooner.

Charlotte Chaze is the founder of Break Into Tech. She is an advocate for modern workers' rights and has helped thousands of people with no prior experience land their first data analytics jobs.

If you landed a tech job without a technical background and would like to share your story, email Jane Zhang at janezhang@businessinsider.com.




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