How to get into tech from a food services career

Trying to learn how to get into tech from a food service career? Our guide can help you take the first steps toward your new tech career.
Written by Hannah Riley, Contributor

A career change may feel difficult for someone who has spent a long time in the same field. But switching from food service to a lucrative tech career may be easier than you think! 

It's possible to break into tech regardless of your background or programming abilities. The tech sector offers both technical and non-technical jobs. 

You might move into careers like computer support specialist, software developer, web developer, or tech sales by upskilling and highlighting your existing strengths. Read on for a detailed breakdown. 

Transferable skills from food service to tech

You might feel underprepared to start your new career, but food service workers have many valuable skills that transfer to the tech world. 

Customers have needs and problems requiring quick solutions in both the tech world and food service. Food service workers already have valuable skills, including:

  • Punctuality
  • Teamwork
  • Ability to work under pressure 
  • Multitasking 
  • Problem-solving 
  • Communication, including cross-team communication

Technical roles available to former food service workers in tech

The right tech role for you depends on your particular education, skills, and previous experience. Job requirements vary by position. Food service workers may be closer than they think to a tech job with no degree requirement.

Computer support specialist

Minimum degree required: Associate
Alternate job titles:  Technical support specialist; information technology specialist; computer technician 
Important characteristics: 

  • A strong ability to problem solve
  • Customer service internally and externally
  • Interest in general computer function

Computer support specialists come in two varieties: computer network support specialists and computer user support specialists. Computer network support specialists typically evaluate existing systems and perform needed maintenance. Computer user support specialists listen to clients' needs and help them solve software or hardware issues.

Software developer

Minimum degree required: Bachelor's, such as a computer programming degree
Alternate job titles:  Software programmer; software engineer; software artisan
Important characteristics: 

  • Attention to detail 
  • Knowledge of programming languages
  • Self-development skills

Software developers create and update software and applications. They typically work in groups and need individual and teamwork skills to be successful. This position often requires a bachelor's degree, but food service applicants may choose to enroll in a coding bootcamp to learn necessary computer programming languages. 

Web developer

Minimum education required: Bachelor's, bootcamp, or certificate
Alternate job titles:  Web designer; front-end developer; back-end developer; full-stack developer
Important characteristics: 

  • Strong creativity and collaboration skills
  • Desire to learn programming skills
  • Familiar with visual or graphic design

Web developers design and maintain websites using HTML and other programming languages. They work with clients and colleagues to solve website issues. Someone wanting to learn how to become a web developer may benefit from attending a full-stack web development bootcamp

Non-technical roles available to former food services workers in tech

If you're looking for a non-programming role in tech, you still have many options. Eligibility for these jobs depends on your particular education, skills, and previous experience. A bachelor's degree in any subject satisfies the education requirements for many of these roles. 

Tech sales

Minimum degree required: High school diploma 
Alternate job titles: Tech sales development representative; tech sales specialist; sales account manager
Important characteristics:  

  • Understanding of selling strategies
  • Strong communication skills
  • Interest in learning about coding and software

Tech salespeople communicate with clients to sell their company's products and services. They generate and convert leads to convert into potential sales. Any prior experience in sales or customer service can help applicants in this field. Some tech sales positions require a degree, but many companies offer training programs for new employees.  

Customer success specialist

Minimum degree required: Bachelor's
Alternate job titles: Customer success manager; sales manager; customer success engineer
Important characteristics:

  • Strong customer service experience
  • Attention to detail
  • Computer proficiency

A customer support specialist and customer success specialist may sound like the same thing. But a support specialist responds to customer needs while a success specialist anticipates customer needs. Customer service is an essential part of many tech jobs. A success specialist's main duty is to retain customers and expand their product adoption. 

Procurement specialist

Minimum degree required: Bachelor's
Alternate job titles:  Purchasing manager; category specialist; category consultant
Important characteristics:

  • Negotiating abilities
  • The ability to manage and motivate others
  • financial skills for budget management

A procurement specialist sources goods or services for a company. They need to anticipate and satisfy the company's needs. Procurement specialists spend most of their time negotiating and contracting. Someone with a business, finance, or economics degree or background may be a good fit for this role. 

How to get into tech from food services: Top tips

Considering switching to tech? The following steps will help guide you into your new career. Research your perfect role and its requirements to prepare yourself for success.

1. Get clear on the type of tech role you want.

Before applying to tech jobs, consider what roles will fit you best. Would you prefer a large company or a startup? Which industry are you interested in? What does your ideal work-life balance look like, and what benefits are you looking for? Should your new job be fully remote, in-person, or hybrid?

Computer science salaries vary, with many higher-paying roles requiring advanced education and experience. Be sure to research the requirements for the roles and prepare yourself before applying. 

2. Upskill.

Gaining skills ensures you have the right qualifications to land the role you want. Building your skills may be easier than you think. 

While some positions, like computer engineering, may require an advanced degree, many information technology careers hire based on skills. Consider enrolling in a coding bootcamp and free online courses, or pursuing information technology certifications

3. Maximize the quality of your application and portfolio.

Showcase yourself through your job application, cover letter, and portfolio of work. Food service jobs require teamwork, creativity, and communication skills, so emphasize these important characteristics.

Along with your soft skills, any technical skills learned through a degree program or coding bootcamp may help you land your dream tech position. 

No matter what tech job you're looking for, a well-crafted portfolio may set you apart from other candidates. Learn how to build a coding portfolio to showcase your recent work. Be sure to include clear project descriptions to show off your clear communication skills. 

4. Show your expertise, self-awareness, and passion throughout the interview process.

Interviewing for a tech job doesn't need to be nerve-racking. Tech interviews are generally similar to other interviews. Your interviewer may ask familiar questions about your interests, strengths and weaknesses, and why you want to work for the company.

Many companies follow a similar interview process of an initial phone screener followed by a technical interview that may include coding tasks. Use our handy guides to phone interview tips and computer science interview questions to help prepare you for anything.

In conclusion

Transitioning from food service into tech is easier than you think. You already have many of the skills and perspectives tech companies need, so don't wait to start pursuing your new career. 

If you're looking for more guidance on how to switch careers into tech, try researching online degree programs and coding bootcamps to set you apart from other candidates. Many programs offer career services to their graduates.

This article was reviewed by Sarah Holliday, MS 

Sarah Holliday, a Black woman wearing a purple top, smiles.

Sarah Holliday has years of experience working with nontraditional and traditional-aged students in areas related to career coaching and training and development. Holliday holds a BA in English from The University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and an MS in instructional design and technology (training and performance improvement) from Walden University. Holliday is currently working on her doctorate and looks forward to dissertating soon.

Sarah Holliday is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network. 

Last reviewed March 31, 2022.

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