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
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 edX.org 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:
- Old-school companies without a solid tech culture don’t really understand nanodegrees yet
- Traditional colleges and universities don’t have much love for nanodegrees. Then again, traditional colleges still use an education model from the 1600’s (.pdf)
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