5 Seattle Organizations Providing a College-Free Path to the Tech Industry

by Quinten Dol
August 28, 2018

Most job listings in the tech industry ask for applicants with a college degree. However, this requirement can be prohibitive for candidates with enough motivation and aptitude to succeed in the industry, but who lack the financial resources to pay their way through college.

To bridge this gap, more and more organizations are popping up to identify potential software engineers, developers and data scientists, equip them with the necessary skills and funnel them to companies who need them. Here are five Seattle-area organizations helping to educate tomorrow’s tech workforce.


year up puget sound
photo via year up puget sound

Year Up offers one-year intensive training programs for young adults aged 18 to 24 who come from low-income backgrounds. The courses include a mix of internships at local tech companies, coursework that counts toward college credit and hands-on skill development. Executive Director of Year Up Puget Sound Fred Krug said the organization has a high success rate when it comes to getting its students into skilled jobs and college courses.


How does your organization help people pursue careers in the tech industry?

We offer free technical and professional job training (everything from software development to how to write a business email) to motivated and talented young adults without college degrees, then place students in six-month internships at top companies like Microsoft and Zillow. Students are also assigned professional mentors from the business community, and have access to a variety of support services — including on-staff social workers — to make sure they can complete the program successfully and begin their tech careers with all the right skills. 86 percent of Year Up Puget Sound graduates are employed or attending college full-time within four months of completing the program, earning average starting salaries of $44,000 per year.


What can people do to start their transition today? How can they get involved in your program, and what costs are involved?

Young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 with high school degrees or GEDs can apply to Year Up Puget Sound via our website. Applicants are admitted based on their motivation to succeed, not their past grades or work experience. There’s a new class of students every six months, and the program runs for a year. There is no cost to apply or to attend Year Up — in fact, students earn weekly stipends throughout the year, as well as college credits for their Year Up coursework.


skillspire bellevue renton coding school
photo via skillspire

Skillspire partners with various organizations to equip refugees and immigrants with the skills they need to start a career in tech. Many recent arrivals have worked in tech before landing in the United States, but find that their skills are outdated or their qualifications go unrecognized locally. Skillspire founder and CEO Yasmin Ali said she focuses on offering scholarships and keeping costs down for her students.


How does your organization help people pursue careers in the tech industry?

Skillspire provides connections and a path to a career in technology for those who work full-time already, those who work at jobs that don’t offer as many pathways for advancement, or to those looking to reinvent themselves professionally. Our major competitive strength is our partnership with several community-based organizations that work directly with underrepresented students. Skillspire strives to target under-privileged students by keeping the tuition fees low — around $2,000 for our courses. As part of the training, we include soft skills training like resume prep and mock interviews, and on completion of the training, we leverage our connections and resources to help the student find a job.


What can people do to start their transition today? How can they get involved in your program, and what costs are involved?

First off, they can visit our website to check out the courses offered at our locations in Bellevue and Renton. They can submit an application, which will be followed by an assessment. The assessment is mainly to determine the commitment and passion of the potential student. Coding is not easy, and it needs a certain grit to get through the program to be successful.


apprenti coding school seattle
photo via Jordan Stead/Amazon

Apprenti identifies motivated applicants with an aptitude for math, critical thinking and other areas, then provides them with training before matching them with a tech company for a one-year apprenticeship. The program focuses on getting minorities, women and veterans into the tech industry, and Executive Director Jennifer Carlson said candidates are admitted based on a range of broad skills, rather than formal qualifications.


How does your organization help people to pursue a career in the tech industry?

Apprenti identifies people who don't necessarily have the right credentials to get into the tech industry, but have the aptitude, attitude and motivation to transition into tech through the right resources and opportunities. Once selected through Apprenti, apprentices receive the required technical training and certifications to be successful on the job.


What can people do to start their transition today? How can they get involved in your program, and what costs are involved?

Apply! If you're interested in becoming a candidate, go to ApprentiCareers.org and take the online assessments focused on math, soft skills, logic and critical thinking. High-scoring candidates will be contacted when apprenticeship opportunities become available. In most locations, there is no cost for apprentices to participate in the program. Once classroom training is complete, you receive full payment and benefits for a year of on-the-job training with the company.


metis data science bootcamp
photo via metis

Metis’ range of courses focus on data science, with more advanced programs for students looking to learn more about artificial intelligence and other cutting-edge tech. The organization offers a range of scholarships to help with its tuition fees. Senior Data Scientist Roberto Reif said the organization’s courses cover a wide range of technological topics.


How does your organization help people pursue careers in the tech industry?

We offer a $3,000 scholarship which can be put toward our immersive data science bootcamp. This scholarship applies for women, members of underrepresented demographic groups, including various cultural and racial backgrounds, folks from the LGBTQ community, veterans and so on. We also team up with different organizations to host and sponsor different events that are specifically targeted at people from backgrounds that are underrepresented in the industry. For example, we work with Women Who Code, PyLadies, Girl Develop It and Women in Machine Learning. We also present conferences that are targeted for these underrepresented groups. We have alums that are now working at Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks, Zulily, Indeed and The Gates Foundation.


What can people do to start their transition today? How can they get involved in your program, and what costs are involved?

I would say the first thing to look at is a boot camp, which are these 12-week immersive programs that we run from nine to five. Students work through five data science projects throughout the bootcamp, and the cost is $17,000. We also have courses that are conducted either in-person or live online, and these tend to happen in the evenings or weekends so people can work full-time and still take part. Our offerings here tend to vary, but they range between about $499 to $1900. We can teach everything from Python and math for data science beginners up to advanced topics like machine learning and principles of artificial intelligence.


coding dojo seattle
photo via coding dojo

Coding Dojo offers onsite coding bootcamps to teach problem solving skills and turn students into self-sufficient developers. The 14-week course focuses on three different tech stacks, broadening the range of companies a graduate can successfully apply to. Head of Operations Jay Patel said his organization believes anyone can learn to code if they have the desire to do so.


How does your organization help people pursue careers in the tech industry?

Coding Dojo is committed to transforming lives through technical education. As an alternative to traditional education we are privileged to be able to create opportunities to break into the tech industry for those who wouldn't otherwise have them. In addition to our financing partners — who we work with to fund as many students as possible — we also have scholarships for military retraining, women and diversity to support underrepresented backgrounds.


What can people do to start their transition today? How can they get involved in your program, and what costs are involved?

Coding Dojo is committed to the concept that anyone can learn to code given the grit and motivation. We've created a free tool to help beginners get started with the basic building blocks of programming. Once a prospective student goes through the algorithm application, they're ready to start on day one and we'll take them the rest of the way.


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