Nanodegree: Fast Path To A Good Job?

A nanodegree can lead to a good paying and exciting job. But it’s not for everyone, and some employers aren’t quite on board yet.

What Is A Nanodegree?

  • A nanodegree is focused on very specific skills (usually technical) that employers are looking for in the marketplace
  • They are inexpensive and fast. A nanodegree can be had in as little as six months for $1,200, depending upon the program and a person’s study habits
  • Nanodegrees provide verifiable skills certification that prove a student’s proficiency in a subject
  • Some nanodegrees provide guaranteed job placement – or your money back
Nanodegree interest levels are surging, and for good reason. Typical degrees from colleges and universities take years to complete, can leave students with a pile of debt and don’t always meet the needs employers who are desperate to find talent in emerging disciplines. Nanodegrees solve that problem by providing online courses that are focused on specific skills that employers need immediately.

Who Provides Nanodegrees?

  • The Online learning company Udacity pioneered nanodegrees in 2014 when it partnered with AT&T to build an entry-level software development course
  • Since then, Udacity has partnered with Google to provide Android and iOS developer courses,  a machine learning course, and other nanodegrees
  • Microsoft partnered with Harvard’s to provide a Data Science nanodegree that costs just $500


Nanodegree Salary Examples

Sebastian Thrun, the founder of Udacity commented about nanodegrees in a Forbes article, saying:   “If you do what we tell you to do with this program, you can get $100,000, $180,000 as an entry-level salary in Silicon Valley”.

Udacity lists nanodegree course requirements and salary ranges and on their website. Salary ranges, plus the number of hours required to complete each nanodegree, include:

  • Front End Web Developer: $45k to $105k,. Requires 252 hours of coursework
  • Data Analyst: $44.8k to $105k, 380 hours
  • Full Stack Web Developer: $43k to $124k, 200 hours
  • Machine Learning Engineer: $64.9k to $170k, 420 hours
  • Android Developer: $52.3k to $154k, 6 months
  • iOS Developer: $60.7k to $157k, 270 hours

According to Venturebeat, Udacity will also be developing a nanodegree for self driving cars.


Is A Nanodegree is Right For You?

  • Nanodegrees are best suited to motivated students who have excellent study habits
  • Expect to spend 10-20 hours on coursework every week, for about 6 months
  • The best-paying nanodegrees are often in technical disciplines, so technical aptitude is often required. A few courses are designed for beginners however

Who Accepts Nanodegrees

Since the courses are co-created with employers, many nanodegree programs have recruitment built into them with companies like Amazon, Google, AT&T, Microsoft and others. Because many employers have similar needs, nanodegrees can be  valuable to other companies too.

However, nanodegrees are not loved by all:

So far there is a limited selection of nanodegrees in the marketplace, and most are focused on technology-related topics. Because they are relentlessly market-focused,  nanodegrees provide only a narrow range of career choices.


Why Nanodegrees Are Rather Cool

  • Nanodegrees can open low-cost education to a many people, and could help democratize education
  • They are demand-based, agile, fast, and scalable, which is pretty much the opposite of traditional education
  • Nanodegrees can streamline the hiring process by directly connecting students and employers
  • They put students into some of the most exciting careers in the world today
  • As global employment landscapes change due to automation and artificial intelligence, nanodegrees could become a valuable retraining tool
Cover image by Heptagon via Creative Commons, modified by Curiousmatic. 


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