Do You Need a Uni Degree to get into IT?
Short answer: No but it definitely helps. Without a university degree, the IT industry can be extremely difficult to get into, likely necessitating periods of unpaid work, lots of self-teaching and starting right at the very bottom. Forging a career in one of the most competitive and booming industries isn't something we'd recommend but it's absolutely possible... we even know a few employees at Amazon and Microsoft who've worked their way up without formal education ;).
To be clear, we're not encouraging you to learn some code and apply for internships without taking some classes first. Taking the traditional route through University degrees and internships is definitely preferred by employers, while also being the most efficient route.
5 Steps to cracking the industry without a degree:
Do some research and get learning. Figure out if the industry is right for you and then consume as much online as possible. Figure out what sector of IT you most resonate with and everything you can to become an expert on it. Utilise free online courses, YouTube tutorials, program free trials, and anything else you can get your hands on.
Network! Start reaching out to low-mid employees in the industry, understanding their career journey and position better. Remember sometimes who you know is much more valuable than what you know. If nothing else, this will provide greater direction and understanding of where you want to go. Achieve this through Linked In, tech forums and even other social media sites that may have tech pockets such as Reddit.
Attempt to transition to an IT role within your current company. This will be easier if you're working in an office. You already have rapport within your workplace, you know the business and will likely receive more patience from employers and colleagues as you're figuring the role out.
If you're not in a position to complete step number 2, get ready to start at the bottom. You have two choices in this step: target an IT role in a small business or target a junior entry-level admin role in a tech company. Each has its pros and cons, with the former allowing you to begin working in a position you're excited about. The latter provides great learning, development, and promotional potential as you establish yourself in the company and share your desired direction with your employers.
Don't rush. You could be in the bottom rungs of the industry for a few years yet. Stay eager, keep developing your skills and seeking out relevant opportunities. If your role isn't providing you anything after a couple of years, move onto another low-level position until someone gives you a chance.
In all honestly, it may be easier to deal with all the cons of formal education and go get yourself a degree; but if you're really set on avoiding student debt and length lectures there is still hope for you... you just have to be hungry.