Is Self-Taught Enough As Long as You Have the Skills?

I’m 18, can’t afford college, and I just quit my steel fabrication job working 12 hours a day to learn to code. Is it possible to be employable in less than a year if I put in the work? I’m working another job now but I can set aside 6 hours a day to learn.

  1. Without a college degree, some jobs will out of the question due to automatic filtering of resumes. You could be Mark Zuckerberg and be denied due to the “system”. This doesn’t mean all jobs are off the table, even the ones who require a college degree could be applied for. Nothing beats raw experience.
  2. Less than a year is a limited time-span, which means what and how you learn is more important than anything. Simply put, there is a lot to learn, and even if you where able to suck up 100% of everything you study, you still will lack experience. Nothing beats raw experience.
  3. Networking is just as important as skills when it comes to finding a job, you can be an amazing fresh new developer, but if you cant find or get any jobs you will be making just as much money as anyone else who is unemployed (0$).
  4. Nothing beats raw experience. I say this because if your just starting out, and have a limited time-frame to learn, you need to spend your time wisely to make yourself hireable. Going from 0 to hero in 6 months is totally possible, but you need to focus learning what you want to do so you can get as much experience from actually working on stuff. This is especially true with those without degrees, as the a degree gets your through the door in most cases, without it you need to rely on networking, skills and experience to get the job.

Do FCC, any other coding bootcamp, grind through it, build projects, gain experience, apply to jobs, and learn the skills required for jobs. Find what jobs you can apply to, see the skills you need, and go learn the skills for the most common jobs. I bring up experience multiple times because its the 1 thing that beats everything, but it takes time to gain. With time being limited, you must use your time effectively.

If company X uses technology Y and you already spent a month bashing your head getting Y to work, then you will look a hell of a lot better than some fresh grad student.

College is over-rated, but college does provide facilities that help in the job search, and teaches the core fundamentals. You don’t need college for either of those things, but without them you must find and manage them on your own.

Goodluck :smile:


It is, although you have to have the right skills. Don’t go astray and focus on one main technology/field at a time instead (like web programming - JS, HTML, CSS + Node.js, databases, or networked application programming - predominantly back end stuff, etc). Technical skills must be polished on a regular basis, but don’t forget soft skills: communicating, negotiating, logical reasoning about choices you make and ability to be understood and to listen to someone.
There’s literally thousands of people, just like me, who went from 0 to full-time jobs in this industry without a degree and even more are in a process of doing so. Especially at your young age, event if it takes you 3 years to land a job, you’ll be only 21. At 30 you’d be, theoretically, a senior developer/engineer. This is a very good prospect.
If you spend 6 hours a day, that’s a lot of investment, so you, again - theoretically, should land a job in 12 months. That depends on area you live in, junior demand and so on and so forth but after learning fundamentals, dive deeper into the language and its accompanying tools while building something you come up with. That’s how you’ll get your first experience. And don’t forget to spare yourself from over-working/over-learning. Breaks are crucial for your psychological and emotional well-being :slight_smile:

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Wow thanks for taking the time to make such a detailed response! This is exactly the guidance I needed.

Thanks for responding, soft skills is something I for sure need to work on. Whatever happens, it beats working at a steel factory coming home in pain with iron falling out my nose lol.

No one size fits all answer. It not only depends on your skill, but also the company you choose to work for, but yes absolutely doable if you put in the works.

The “work” doesn’t just start and stop at acquiring skills and knowledge, however. Networking and job searching is entirely another beast on its own, and you must put in work on that front as well.

Learn, work, communicate regularly, not just online, but with real people off-line. Write code, make sure you have something to show for all the things you learn. Communicate, make sure you can cleanly and confidently present yourself and explain what you have learned to others, not just technical people, but non-technical people as well.

Eventually education goes out the window when working in tech. Experience is king, and if you have a few years under your belt, that section on your resume almost becomes wasted space.

The problem is getting that experience. Without a formal education you’re looking for a company that’s willing to take a risk and bring you on. And that’s exactly how it’ll be seen- a risk. Which isn’t a bad thing. Companies take risks on hires all of the time. But, it does limit your initial job search.

A lot of companies start their hiring process with an HR department or a recruiting agency. And in those situations, requirements tend to be black and white. HR departments stick to what they’re told to look for. And recruitment agencies minimize time spent on those not seen as potentially-perfect fits for the position, since they’re paid only on successful placement.

Getting past the gatekeeper with those companies could be nearly impossible without a college education.

I think, without a degree, you’re best bet is to focus on smaller, more local development shops or agencies. Places where the hiring manager is likely filtering out all of the resumes coming in.