26, no degree and zero job experience - career advice needed

Title says it all but I’ll expand on it a bit. I tried to get a degree in IT in my early 20s but stopped during my second year. I also have no experience as an employee of any kind, like I literally have never experienced working for someone else all my life. I did own a very small business that my parents handed to me if that counts as experience, but I’ve already closed it down a while ago.

So long story short, I’m currently an unemployed 26 year old dude without any college degree. Say that I continue doing the self-taught route, what are my realistic chances of being successful in the field of web development considering my background? Would employers take a chance on a guy in his late 20’s who has never had a job experience before or is that just wishful thinking?

Also, should I consider going back to college to get a degree? I’ve been strongly considering it lately, but I’ll be around 30-31 by the time I graduate. I’m worried that it would drastically reduce my chances of being hired, being a fresh grad at 30 and all…

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options are
1: get a job learn coding on the side
2: get a job do a online study
3: go back to school and get a massive debt
4: go to school and work at the side


College education is free in our country so I don’t have to worry about the debt part.

This is a serious dilemma. The good news is, if you can go on living without income. You should spend the time learning as much as you can and build yourself a reputation which ever field you decided to take on.

If you are seriously about getting into the IT field. You’ll have to be very specific what you choose.

  • Web Application
  • Game Development
  • VR
  • Software
  • Hardware
  • Networking

And the list goes on. Whatever you do, be prepare to be in it for the next 10 years and hone your skills to perfection. There is no more “let me try” when you’re closing in on 30’s. I am 35 now, if I hesitate anymore. I’ll be in the 40’s before getting anything done. :slight_smile:

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A book that I often recommend to people who want to build a career without formal education is The Education of Millionaires by Michael Ellsberg. It talks about how to learn the necessary skills to be successful that no curriculum teaches you like marketing yourself, sales, self-education, networking, etc.

Even if you decide to go to college in the end, this book teaches you how to approach your career with an entrepreneurial mindset instead of an employee mindset. Highly recommended!


That mentality is what will prevent you from getting hired, you have to be hungry and want it more than the next person. I am currently a QA software engineer/tester, just got hired a few months ago, no prior work history or education for this field. I started as a temp and worked hard, then got hired in as data entry and then over time got some different projects too. I proved myself and worked hard day in and day out, then this job opening came up and I was asked to apply. They said they could teach me the code and the job, but it was my work ethic and drive that got me the job. I am now doing programs and will be going back to even further my education. My resume is all over the place, but the key is get out there and show them you want it. If you really want it, make it happen, age is just a number and numbers can manipulated by factors, I will explain the x factor using math. [E/sqrt(A) ]*X = V, E is your experience(job,school, etc), A is your age (it is typically easier to learn stuff younger, but is a slight factor) and X is your drive/eagerness/dedication to learn/grow and handle yourself, V is your value to a potential employer. The only reason A is typically a factor is because you can learn easier and pick up things faster when you are younger typically, and also you can potentially give more years to a company. Your value will definitely grow with work/school experience, but the biggest thing is a portfolio, the thing that helped me was all the little projects and things I did on my own, to show that I at least had a mindset for this kind of job and not saying you will have the same opportunities, but you need to set yourself up to be able to capitalize on them if they come around. The harder you work and the more you put in the more you can achieve, you are never too old to make things happen. The best investment is in yourself. Always work hard and want it more than the other person, because that hunger is what will get you fed.


Yeah and there are countless people who worked hard and got laid off and then had to accept a job that paid entry level pay and my dad was 51 at the time when he got laid off. he was the smartest guy i ever knew. my dad was the type who could fix anything. we never had any repair man over the house, ever. if a pipe needed to be fixed he got a book and climbed under the sink. He didn’t have a degree, he went to a technical school to be an electrical technician. everyone called him mr fixit. when pc’s started becoming the norm in offices he started fixing them too. my dad eventually passed away at 65 and when he passed away he was making entry level pay. he deserved so much more because he was a go getter and even was trying to go to work while battling ALS. I’m just saying that not every company appreciates the go getter. you were very lucky and im glad that your efforts were appreciated. not everyone can find a company that recognizes the over achiever. most people should be prepared to work hard and never feel appreciated by the company for what you do. it’s just the harsh realities that are out there in the world. There are people who bust their butts for Uber and do great jobs driving, should they expect to get a six figure income for the great work that they do? nope.

what many will find is that you are just a number among lots of other numbers. the attitude i have found of most companies is that after you put your blood, sweat and tears into what you do the company response is: what do you want, a medal? seriously. i think people think that if they really bust their ass they will go so far in the company and the truth is…no. the higher positions will go to friends of the company owner, of someone on the board of directors and so forth and so on. the days of starting out in the mailroom and working your way up to president of the company do not exist anymore and who knows if they ever existed.

my advice to people is do enough work so you can keep your job and call it a day. if you want higher up positions, you can try to start your own company.


I suggest you going to college and get a degree. It’s never too late for studies.