Business Administration

Want to Work at YouTube? Here Are the Degrees You’ll Need

Want to Work at YouTube? Here Are the Degrees You’ll Need
Job seekers looking to join YouTube’s design ranks have plenty of opportunities to consider, with current openings covering listings for a senior UX designer, UX design manager, and a senior interaction designer and interaction designer. Image from Unsplash
Mairead Kelly profile
Mairead Kelly April 17, 2020

We’re all guilty of losing hours or—let’s face it—days to YouTube. But if you’d like to make a career out at the ultimate online destination for viewing and sharing of videos, you’re gonna need more than a “Charlie bit my finger” reference.

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When Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawad Karim founded YouTube in 2005, they couldn’t have predicted how they would change the media landscape, much less the whole world, in just a few years. Their online video-sharing platform has revolutionized everything from entertainment to education, opened new doors for creators, and connected millions of people all over the globe—sometimes, over a single cat video.

Looking back, it’s inconceivable to think of a time when we procrastinated without videos of “Masha and the Bear” and 25-minute long compilations of people’s siblings walking into nearly invisible walls of saran wrap. After a glimpse at YouTube’s San Bruno headquarters, it’s also hard to imagine the company’s humble beginnings above a California Pizza shop.

Full-length indoor lap pool? Check. Putting green? You got it. A slide that stretches the length of a full story? What better way to connect the office’s second and third floors? Only the best for YouTube’s employees—who, according to the company’s corporate site, spend their days working “to give everyone the power to share their story, explore what they love, and connect with one another in the process.”

For their efforts, YouTube ensures its employees receive ample offbeat perks, such as free bicycles and scooters to glide along the office corridors, and light- and sound-proof decompression pods for napping during the workday. Famous visitors are frequent too, whether stopping by to tour the office, put on an impromptu concert, or take part in a panel discussion.

YouTube was acquired by Google in 2006, which means that the company offers benefits Google is famous for. Just a few include employee stock options, some of the best paid parental leave for new parents, and its Global Education Leave program, which enables employees to take a leave of absence to pursue further education.

The company also stresses that its culture doesn’t just accept difference—it celebrates it, supports it, and thrives on it for the benefit of its employees, products, and community. In 2018, it landed a spot on Forbes’ list of America’s Best Employers for Women. It made it to the magazine’s rankings of America’s Best Midsize Employers the following year.

Now that you’ve heard about YouTube’s amazing benefits and unique corporate culture, it’s natural to want in. The question is, amid a strong applicant pool, how can you set yourself apart and land a gig at this intersection of cutting-edge technology and boundless innovation? Creativity and analytical thinking skills will get you far. Other must-haves include technical know-how and a sense of curiosity—and in some cases, the graduate degrees we discuss below.

How YouTube Became the World’s Go-To Video-Sharing Platform

While working at PayPal in 2004, YouTube’s founders realized that there wasn’t an online location where videos could be shared. The trio believed that ordinary people would enjoy sharing their “home videos.” And boy, they were right.

After registering their domain and launching a beta site in 2005, YouTube received $11.5 million in investments from Sequoia Capital. By September of the same year, a Nike commercial featuring Brazilian football player Ronaldinho Gaúcho became the first YouTube video to reach one million views.

Fast forward to early 2006, when YouTube was serving more than 25 million video views each day. The number of videos available on the site surpassed 25 million in March 2006, with more than 20,000 new videos uploaded daily. By the following summer, YouTube was serving more than 100 million videos per day.

By the time Google paid $1.65 billion for the company in the fall of 2006, the site boasted more than 700 million views a week. Today, YouTube holds the title as the world’s most visited website, with more monthly traffic than Facebook and Amazon combined.

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Working at YouTube

The roughly 1,100 employees who are based out of YouTube’s San Bruno offices function within teams across a range of departments, including legal, product, finance, and trust and safety.

According to PayScale data, YouTube employees in the U.S. make an average salary of $89,000 per year.

__Some of the highest-paid jobs at YouTube include the following, listed by average base salary:__

  • Software Engineering Manager: $208,000
  • Product Marketing Manager: $182,000
  • Senior Software Engineer: $175,000
  • Technical Program Manager: $163,000
  • Product Manager: $160,500
  • Continuous Improvement Leader: $156,000
  • User Experience Researcher: $152,000
  • Senior Product Specialist: $151,500
  • Partner Technology Manager: $151,500
  • Systems Administrator: $151,000

Want to Work at YouTube? Here Are the Degrees You’ll Need.

YouTube’s jobs site features open positions in areas such as design, business strategy, engineering and technology, and marketing and communications.

Design jobs at YouTube

Intuitive user-centered design is key to the success of Google’s products, YouTube included. The company’s interdisciplinary user experience (UX) specialists and designers work across platforms to create powerful visuals while exemplifying one of Google’s core principles: “Focus on the user and all else will follow.”

Job seekers looking to join YouTube’s design ranks have plenty of opportunities to consider, with current openings covering listings for a senior UX designer, UX design manager, and a senior interaction designer and interaction designer with a respective focus on accessibility and search.

YouTube’s interaction design positions put a greater emphasis on degree requirements than other roles within this department. They typically require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree in design, human-computer interaction, computer science, or a related field.

Opportunities for UX design experts, on the other hand, leave out education-based qualifications. Instead, YouTube wants candidates to have anywhere from several to over ten years of professional experience in UX, design, or closely related roles.

Business strategy jobs at YouTube

Whether it’s identifying acquisitions and investments, monetizing strategies for products, or developing partners in emerging markets, YouTube looks to its business strategy teams to deliver the analytical insights that enable the company to innovate.

Those pursuing careers as part of YouTube’s business strategy team have a variety of positions to pursue. Current openings include listings for a strategy associate, a principal of YouTube strategy, a director of strategy, and a business insights analyst with a specialization in insights, infrastructure, and technology.

Across the board, all roles within YouTube’s strategy team require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, often in a technical, quantitative, or business-oriented field. Many senior roles also note a preference for candidates with graduate degrees, including an MS, MBA, or a graduate degree in a management, technical, or engineering field.

Engineering and technology jobs at YouTube

YouTube’s engineering and technology department is home to professionals who are curious and collaborative and excited to create and iterate on products and tools used by billions of users.

Openings in this sphere include listings for a trust and safety enterprise abuse analyst; a partner technology manager; a salesforce applications engineer; a partner engineer; and a business intelligence engineer with a focus on insights, infrastructure, and technology.

The majority of these roles require candidates to have either a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related technical field or simliar practical experience. Some, like the company’s listing for a business intelligence engineer, prefer applicants with a master’s degree in computer science, engineering, or a relevant field.

Marketing and communications jobs at YouTube

The marketing and communication pros at YouTube cover a lot of ground. Whether they’re pitching journalists, developing brand materials, telling compelling stories, or tackling complex business issues, they help define how people interact with technology and shape the perception of YouTube around the world.

Currently, job seekers have the option to pursue openings for an executive communications manager, a head of policy communications, a growth marketing manager, and a strategy and planning lead, among other roles.

All of these positions require candidates to have a generalized bachelor’s degree or equivalent professional experience. In terms of preferred education, YouTube’s growth marketing manager listing is the only role to favor candidates with graduate-level training—which in this case, are those who’ve completed an MBA degree.

Internships at YouTube

From programming and finance to marketing, design, and deep learning, YouTube offers a range of internships for undergraduate and graduate students. Functioning within Google’s BOLD Internship Program, students have the chance to join YouTube teams around the world for ten weeks, typically from June to August.

YouTube interns receive all-expenses-paid travel to the company’s headquarters, where they immerse themselves in a culture where great minds, cutting-edge technology, and smart business intersect to make a difference every day. They typically spend much of the experience collaborating on projects that have a lasting impact, whether on their teams, on YouTube’s clients and users, or even on the campus’ wider community.

All the while, interns work with mentors, engage with employee resource groups, and form relationships with other interns, allowing them to create a network to help support their personal and professional development not only throughout the summer but as they launch their careers.

Press Play on a Career With YouTube

On its site, YouTube describes its hiring process as one that focuses on two types of interviews. During phone or Google Hangout interviews, candidates speak with a potential peer or manager.

On-site interviews are decidedly more rigorous, typically tasking candidates to meet with four YouTube employees—some potential teammates and some cross-functional—for about 30 to 45 minutes each.

During on-site interviews, candidates will have the chance to highlight strengths in four different areas:

  • General cognitive ability
  • Leadership
  • Role-related knowledge
  • Googleyness

This last covers how they work individually and on a team, how they help others, how they navigate ambiguity, and how they push themselves to grow outside of their comfort zone.

No matter a candidate’s potential role, they’re encouraged to ask their interviewers for clarification to make sure they fully understand their questions. They should also feel free to interview their interviewers, too—whether by asking questions about the work, the team, or the culture—to help them decide whether the job is truly the right fit.

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Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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