What is an “Accidental Tech”?

I first heard the term “accidental tech” at a WordPress basics class. The instructor had seen it on a form somewhere & thought it was the perfect description, which it is. Thus, I’ve adopted it myself.

Accidental Techs are people who already work somewhere who are also pretty good with computers & thus get drafted into some sort of tech-related position. This happened somewhat regularly back in the 1990’s & 2000’s when real tech people were harder to find (& often more expensive than people & non-profit agencies were willing or able to pay). It still happens now, particularly in cash-strapped non-profits. Someone higher up discovers that you can use a computer fairly well and can show your less-savvy coworkers how to do things like change fonts in Word or set up a basic Excel spreadsheet. Little by little, they ask you to do something computer-related that you’ve never done before so you poke around a bit & play with things until you figure out how to do it. As you learn, you’re asked to do more difficult technology-related things until somehow, you find yourself running the network servers for the local social services agency you used to be a caseworker for or designing a department website as a work study. So, you start recruiting other employees also comfortable on a keyboard who do not faint at the sight of html code to do things like update websites (bonus points if you were already their boss).*  If you’ve ever wondered why the head of your IT department has an MSW or a certificate as a Pharmacy Tech rather than a computer science degree, that’s probably why.


*Which is exactly what happened to me. My boss ended up the IT guy. It’s kind of crazy, truth be told.

Leave a reply