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What does "tech" mean?

What does “tech” mean?

Tech, short for "technology", is a word often used to describe a variety of careers and skills. Tech can describe:

  • a concrete skill set (for example, computer programing)
  • an organization or industry (for example, working for a "tech company")
  • a career value (for example, working in innovative, solution-oriented work environment)

Why major in tech?

Oftentimes when we say "I want to major in tech", what we mean to say is "I want to work in a career field that allows XYZ". For you, XYZ might mean:

  • working with a high degree of precision coding new computer applications
  • working in an industry where you perceive lots of job opportunities or high pay
  • working in an organization that is solution-oriented and innovative
  • working with flexibility about when and where you complete your work
  • working in a career/for a company that feels prestigious or well-regarded
  • working for a company that offers good benefits, employee perks, or has a casual work environment

Whatever your reason for going into technology, get clear on your "why". It might surprise you to learn that you can likely meet these career goals inside and outside of the tech industry.

How to Work in Tech

There are three primary ways people “work in tech”:

  • Role-Based: You have a technical role at a company that may or may not be at a tech company. For example, you might write code for the U of M's websites.
  • Product-Based: You work with other technicians to build tech products even though your role isn’t necessarily technical. For example, you might be a graphic designer who designs a new visual interface for Instagram. You need to work closely with coders and developers, but your skill set is primarily creative.
  • Company-Based: You work for a tech company. You can have a technical or non-technical role. For example, you can be a software engineer for Google, where you spend your time coding and debugging. Or you can work in marketing for Google, where you draft new advertising campaigns and build relationships. Both of these people “work in tech".

Parallel Planning in Tech

As you explore tech majors, you will note some have entrance requirements that must be completed before applying. In some cases, even if you meet these requirements, admission may be limited due to space.

If you are exploring majors that have entrance requirements, we recommend looking at options for a parallel plan (also known as a back-up plan). A parallel plan includes majors that relate to your interests and skills and can be declared without meeting additional requirements. Having multiple options allows you to pursue your goals even if you are not admitted to your first choice major. 

We recommend using the links on this page to explore and identify parallel plan options at the U, as well as learn about the wide-variety of tech careers available. 

Learning more about your interests, values, and skills can be helpful in identifying parallel plan options. Visit the Self-Awareness section of the CAPE site for activities that can help you learn more about yourself. 

If you would like support with developing a parallel plan, schedule a meeting with a CAPE Coach

Tech Majors List

Tech majors cover a wide variety of roles, skills, and companies. Below we’ve listed out several majors in many tech areas. Jump to the section that interests you the most or browse them all to get a full understanding of all the majors you could pursue. 

Coding/Programming + Technical Support
Data Analytics
Sales/Marketing/Customer Support

Tech Minors List

Sometimes, instead of a full major, you can gain helpful tech skills by adding a minor or taking a few classes. You can choose minors with similar topics to your major, or you can choose minors that teach you different skills. Minors are also helpful when you are not able to get into your first-choice major. When choosing a minor, focus on finding classes that develop skills you want to use in the future. Sometimes, it's better to take a few classes to learn a specific skill instead of completing a whole minor!

Coding/Programming + Technical Support
Data Analytics
Sales/Marketing/Customer Support

Career Pathways in Tech

As stated above in the "What does 'tech' mean?" section, there are a wide range of careers you can pursue in tech. Below are just a few sample careers in six different career fields. If you're not sure which field best suits you, check out our short quiz at the bottom of this page.

If you like coding and working with computers… explore careers in programming and software development
  • Software Developer
  • Software Engineer
  • Front End / Back End / Full Stack Developer
  • Quality Assurance
  • Security
If you like helping people solve their technical problems… explore careers in technical support
  • Customer Success Manager
  • Technical Consultant
  • Subject Matter Expert
  • Help Desk Support Technician
  • Account Manager
If you like making things beautiful and intuitive… explore careers in design
  • User Experience Designer
  • Data Visualization
  • Graphics Developer
  • Interaction Designer
  • Accessibility Specialist
If you like leading or dreaming up new ideas… explore careers in management
  • Product Owner
  • Scrum Master
  • Project Manager
  • DevOps Manager
If you like diving deep into data sets… explore careers in data analytics
  • Business Intelligence Analyst
  • Data Analyst
  • Database Administrator
  • Data Modeler
If you like working with people to connect, persuade, sell... explore careers in sales, marketing, human resources, business support, and more
  • Talent Acquisition 
  • Social Media Strategist
  • Sales Engineer
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Consultant
Even more areas within tech:
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
  • Healthcare Technology
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Human-technology interactions/usage

Learn More about Careers in Tech

As many tech careers develop and evolve with changes in computing and technology, it is important to learn about the range of possibilities and assess how options match your interests and skills. 

Below, you will find resources to help you learn more about tech careers:


What area in tech should I explore first?

Not sure what area in tech to explore first? Take this short quiz to find out which areas might best fit for you!

Question 1: You’re working on a group project for school. What role do you take on?

A. You build the website. You love putting on some music and coding until you lose track of time.
B. You are the technical helper. Someone’s computer crashes? The internet is not working? You’re there to tinker until you fix the problem.
B. You design the powerpoint. You’re great at making things look beautiful while also getting your point across.
C. You are the group leader. You make sure everyone has a job to do, the timeline is set, and the vision for your project is clear.
D. You are the numbers person. You create the spreadsheets and formulas to do the analysis on your group’s data set.
E. You are the presenter. You thrive when you can sell your ideas and persuade others to see your point of view.

Question 2: You need one more class in your schedule for next semester. What do you choose?

A. Introduction to Computer Programming
B. Technical Support Fundamentals
C. Website Design Basics
D. How to Lead Effectively
E. Data Analytics Using R
F. The Art of Connecting: Sales & Human Resources 101

Question 3: What hobby interests you the most from the list below?

A. Video game modding, so you can use your coding skills to make the game just how you want it to be.
B. Drone repair, so when your friend inevitably crashes theirs, you can be there to help repair the damage.
C. Drawing, painting, art, anything where you can put your creativity into the world.
D. Student group president or sports team captain, something where you can take charge to help others get things done. 
E. Puzzles, rubik's cubes, crosswords, sudoku, anything where you can take something ambiguous and messy and make it neat and tidy.
F. Board games and role-playing games, so you can build relationships with the other players (or maybe persuade them to give you what you need to win).

Answer Key

If you chose mostly As… look into programming and software development
If you chose mostly Bs… look into customer/technical support
If you chose mostly Cs… look into design
If you chose mostly Ds… look into management
If you chose mostly Es… look into data analytics
If you chose mostly Fs… look into sales, marketing, human resources, and business support

Take action and explore tech!

Sometimes the best way to know if you like something is to try it! Below are some great resources for trying out tech.