How important is a college degree when getting a job?

Hi there,
I’m a millenial whose had an interest in computers from a young age who is considering her options when it comes to education. How much harder is it to get a developer job if you do not have a degree? I’m very much a teach-yourself kind of person. I’d much rather learn coding online this guide and others than go to a four-year institution, but I want to make sure that is a good decision.

Any feedback is appreciated.

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It’s really up to the company. Some have strict policy, some don’t care about college degrees.

In the developer world, experience counts for a lot more than a degree, but without experience, they are going to look for a degree. If you don’t want to go the college route (can’t blame you with how expensive it’s gotten) then it’s important that you build up a portfolio of your work and host the source somewhere like Github.

No matter what, you’re going to want to educate yourself on not just programming in a particular language, but CS concepts like big-O notation, computability, and data structures. Back in my day, it usually took college to learn this, but nowadays you can do pretty darn well on the University of YouTube.


Thank you for the advice.

Thank you for the feedback.

If actually you can afford a degree then you can combine the self learning with school.

All you need is the basics then you can go ahead and find other resources online like Youtube or better still FreeCodeCamp so as to add up to your knowledge. (I’m combining school with FreeCodeCamp…not easy tho…) Having the skill and degree gives you an edge…(but having the skills is the the most important!!!)

I am going into my third year of a CS degree (A year in industry in a world leading tech firm). This is hopefully going to give me an advantage coming out of the degree.

I moan a lot about my course, its broadness etc. However, the fundamentals covered are really good and allow most students to progress into their chosen field if they have the passion for it. If you push your lecturers AND do extra work learning online FUN things you enjoy then you get all of that too!

However, in this day and age and 4 years from now I am sure basically every company (bar a few) will accept non-degree people with the right experience, but you have to network, be displined and focused to get this experience.
I would still make sure to cover all the fundamentals around data structures, algorithms (big o), cyber security, AI, theory of computing, functional programming, OOP. Basically find an online tech degree and kinda follow their path but dont nessicarily take the degree just use videos around the web.

IMO doing it yourself would take more discipline and courage and passion if you manage to do it all. :slight_smile:


CS is really broad and dynamic. I’m studying CS too. You just have to go for the field you have passion for first. Then you can learn other fields in it thereafter if you wish to…Just make sure you’r good in one first

Pursuing a formal education is the safer choice if you can and want to afford the necessary time and money.

That said software developers are in high demand and some companies will hire people without a degree if they can show that they have the necessary skills. But going self thought can be a very lonely journey.

It’s a highly personal choice.

I have listed the pros and cons here:

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I’ve been caring for a family member for several years now and as such I’m unable to attend a brick uni here in the UK to get a CS degree.

I have a BSc degree in Mechatronic Engineering from 20 years ago (when I was young!) however what I decided to do was to enrol with the Open University here in the UK and work long term towards a software development degree via distance learning while teaching myself how to code with freeCodeCamp and other available online resources in parallel.

I’ve read many success stories here on freeCodeCamp from people who don’t have a degree and what I’ve taken from them all is that to be successful you have to fully commit, work hard and have a good project portfolio that demonstrates your practical skills.

A degree will definitely open certain doors but there are still many opportunities available for people who can demonstrate practical coding experience to an employer.

A university degree provides a very real and significant advantage. A formal education isn’t the right choice for everyone, but if it is a viable option I would strongly encourage you to consider it. You certainly can become a professional developer without a degree, but it makes the first several years of your career harder.

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If you have the opportunity to go get a formal education and get a degree, then take it. If you can afford it, nothing stops you from getting the degree, learning from school and learning on your own.

As said multiple times above, companies look for experience, but if you lack much experience most use degrees as a simple way to “weed out” candidates.

A degree will get your resume in the door, but its up to you to get the job

PS. The one thing no one really realizes about universities is most provide tons of resources for getting jobs, and experience that isn’t easy to get if you don’t go to school. Job fairs, internship opportunities, clubs are generally always available at most universities. If you do go, take advantage of these opportunities. Often the extra curricular options available is makes going to universities worth it. :smile:

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Thanks for all the advice, guys, I really appreciate it!

As many have said, it will not hurt. It probably will help. If you have the option (that fits your requirements) to get a degree, get it.

How much the degree helps will be greatly influenced by who you end up working for. At my current level, I tend to work for larger organizations. My lack of degree has excluded me from consideration for certain types of positions (primarily Senior Architect/Engineer roles). I was expressly excluded enough that I started back to school to complete my degree.

My experience with this is a direct result of where I live and work. I know of others at my level who do not have the same experience, mostly because they live and work in a different locale.

As they say, YMMV (your mileage may vary).

It’s only expensive if you go the traditional route (this is neither a pro or a con, just a recognition of the current state of higher education in the US).


I am self taught front end wen developer and I would like to answer your question. :slight_smile: In short, it depends on your own situation. The truth lies deep down … in the bold text … (just like the truth at the bottom of wine bottle, as my ancestors used to say :slight_smile: )

:alarm_clock: If I were you … :face_with_monocle:

… I would try to go the the Uni with the best quality of education (the harder the better) and I would focus and getting to know, what the Uni can offer you. Make as many friends there as possible, friendship would be a very valuable thing for you carrier growth (the more you reach for higher positions, the more you are dependent on your relationships – it is true, ask anyone, who is a high ranking manager).

:speaking_head: I tell you, try one year at the Uni, give it a chance…
… and then decide, if you want to continue and finish it. You don’t have anything to loose, you would accumulate just some debt, if you went just for a year, but you would be able to pay it back. You can always pause a Uni for a year, try working and than go back to studying if you prefer to.

Still I would tell you not to do the same major for bachelor and master. Most masters curriculums spend 25 – 50% repeating the material from bachelor, so the slow people have a chance to catch up. Try changing to a more related field or go to a different one, you would be able to combine those two fields on the market.

:owl: …and now for some nitty griddy details and explenations behing my advice.

I did spend some time at University doing Economics, flirting with the idea of doing an academic career, but the environment for my career development just didn’t seem to be there.

I spend studying online and I got my first coding job in March 2019. It was quite easy for me, since there are very few people on the market and huge demand. But that was my case, your local case might be different.

I see too many people from USA telling thrilling stories how their technical interviews were hard and how they had to fight hard for their junior jobs. Meanwhile I just tried this January to send 6 CVs and got 4 jobs offers. For three of them I had to just present my portfolio and passion for coding, for one I had to do a home assignment during the Christmas holiday, which I did by editing project I did during a 6 hour online tutorial. Still I went for job I like the most, where they just wanted to know, that I want to code and I want to improve my skills.

So what would you be getting at Uni? Everyone thinks it is expensive, boring and they teach 80% of stuff, you won’t be using mostly.

Well there are some benefits. When you are at Uni, it is time to learn, explore the world, meet new people that are of the same age and, if they study Uni, they are probably more intellectual and clever than people, who work from age 20.

If you work from 20, you get bunch of duties, work from 9:00 to 17:00, you get only 4 weeks of holiday, if you want to travel, you get at most just 14 days off, before your manager wants you to get back. You spend most of the day forced to be friends with work colleagues, if you don’t fit it, they will fire you. Yes you get the chance to earn money, but you loose all the fun and parties at Uni. At the Uni there chances to go out for exchanges, so you can live 3, 6, 12 months on different continent and study in a new culture, plus you can travel through that continent, when you are there.

Still if you decided to go to Uni and just do the studying and fun stuff and get no internships, you will have a pretty low value on the market. So it is highly necessary for you to get a proper internship. I would even suggest to pause the Uni for a year in the fourth or third year to work at a proper position, which would you help you the get some skills in a given field. Working at Café or MacDonalds will not help you, you are not working as a manage and leading people!

:yum: I thinks that was already enough, ask anything, if you want. :slight_smile: