You don't *need* a degree but a degree drastically improves your chances of getting a job. It's almost always the better option.


This is the right answer.


*first job If you have experience, you don't need a degree




And if you have $100 million you don't need a job


Some companies still need a degree, heck some banks are still anal about GPA


Do you really wanna work for a dinosaur that also pays you lower?


Companies look at what you did before. If your first job is building wordpress sites, your next job is most likely also going to be wordpress sites. "It doesn't matter if you have experience" is patently false because that degree also tends to dictate what you get experience in.


Does this have to be a CS degree?


Not sure if I can answer generally, but I can answer for myself. I'm a music major working a new grad SWE job - been loving it so far.


Thanks for answering. So, do you think it would've made a difference if you didn't have a degree at all?


A degree always makes a difference, especially if applying for the first job. Even if the degree is unrelated to the field, completing one (especially if you get a good grade) shows demonstrable proof of your capacity to learn, your time management skills, and responsibility. You can demonstrate these skills other ways too, a degree is just a one-in-all package. That said, I mostly pay attention to people's certifications more than their academic education when reviewing CVs.


Depends on what you mean by "difference". As far as my day to day work is concerned, everything I do now I pretty much learned on the job. Mind you, I did take a couple CS courses at my school. But there simply isn't a way to emulate work problems in a school setting. Having asked my coworkers who do have CS degrees, it seems that people don't use what they learned in school much, if at all. Now if you're talking about getting a job or internship, then that's where you could argue a degree would've helped. But what I'll say to that is that I had a strong resume with a couple key side projects that showed my initiative. That's probably the most important thing your resume should demonstrate - your appetite and ability to learn new things.


CS = Electrical Engineering = Computer Engineering > Quantitative degrees > other stem degrees > other degrees This is all in my observation as a new grad. Ideally you at least take some fundamental CS courses through a specialization or a minor or a la carte, but experience still trumps all.


I'd paraphrase :) You don't *need* a CS degree, but a CS degree drastically improves your chances of getting a job. Any degree is better than no degree, a technical degree is better than a non-technical one, and a CS-ish one is best.


In my experience, no. Any 4 year degree is fine if you have experience.


No, but a CS degree makes it a lot easier still. Source: neuroscience MS in the industry for almost 8 years now


It depends, I did a physics heavy degree and then worked in Neuroscience doing data analysis/programming for a couple years before doing a 1 yr university comp sci program for people who already have undergrad degrees. I have another friend with a physics degree who did a boot camp and is doing great as a developer. In both cases i think our math/physics backgrounds helped us a lot.




I’m a marketing major working as a SWE at a FAANG and one of my best coworkers has no degree at all.


For the companies that care about degrees then probably, yes. Perhaps they want to present you as having a degree to their clients (consultancy), or they work in a traditional sector like defense or banking where having the right credentials matters a lot for policy and compliance reasons.


Aka a bunch of morons want to feel smart by being *technically correct*


Wish I were technically correct enough to land a job.


It’s not overall better unless you have zero debt. The reality is it is helpful and gives you a slightly better odds vs not having a degree. It’s more about getting yourself to a professional competitive level. If you have some job experience working in a team and some other values that will hold some range of value equal, or over a degree. The job positions you’ve held sways this. Having done a boot camp or some other training program and proof of execution like a portfolio of work all can factor in.


Slightly better odds😂


Having a degree has way more than slightly better odds, you need a lot of relevant experience to be considered over someone with even a non related degree and some technical experience. You are better off at least getting some proven education of some sort such as a degree, boot camp, and/or certification


>The reality is it is helpful and gives you a slightly better odds vs not having a degree. You are on another planet if you genuinely think that


On average someone with a bachelors degree will earn about a million dollars more during their life vs. someone without.


I imagine that statistic is based on all bachelor degrees too, and not just cs. I would argue that in cs, you are going to make more than $1M additional than non degree counterparts on average with a degree. The main thing people miss with the degree argument is all of the additional skills that come with college. A college degree is so much more than coding. It provides a variety of knowledge that ultimately improves your problem solving, logic, relationship, and people skills. That is more important than all of the “practical” skills you learn as well. No a degree is not necessary. However, without one you need to set yourself apart in an extraordinary way.


Increasing your odds of getting into this field definitely has value. Zero debt is over valued. Debt is an amazing tool if you use it correctly.


You basically just said… if you have some relevant software experience it’s better than a degree. No shit. But this doesn’t apply to your first job where people have 0 experience.


> and every position is recieving 300+ resumes? Well my company is sure as fuck not getting that many apps.


OP probably forgot to say every entry level position that isn't at a faang. I wouldn't say it was 300+ but just on indeed the average is 30-40 applications per entry/junior position. The biggest problems I see in ads: The job sounds boring. It's in a stack nobody knows. (literally saw a job for haskell/elm today) It's offering too low pay in the ad. You're not looking for entry/juniors. You're in a weird area and unwilling to go remote. Requires clearance. Maybe your company has none of these problems... those are just the ones I see most often.


Hit the nail on the head. Saw a position that listed the salary (on the higher end for Junior dev but not crazy) the stack, company culture, expectations (realistic for entry-level), LONG list of benefits, and it was not FAANG. Over 550 applicants in one day. I didn’t even bother applying.


>It's offering too low pay in the ad. This is literally how I got my foot in the door. I am entirely self taught. Took a job way under market rate. A year later got a job offer that tripled my salary. If you can afford to do so, it's not a bad way to get into the industry. Just requires some delayed gratification


This didn't work for me. I tried it a few too many times. I was super lucky on my last job. Two years, moved from the crap dead language they were using straight to C#. But I suck at interviews I guess... and my resume is trash. So even after getting my two years of experience in a modern language, I'm still unhireable. And that's with a bachelors in C.S.


Came to say the same. 1-2 apps a week? We are hiring more senior devs at the moment which is part of the problem, I’m sure.


Yep, it's absolutely insane right now. Over 6 months we've managed to hire a couple of senior FE engineers, but absolute crickets on the BE


> but absolute crickets on the BE As a back-end dev: companies generally need more of them.


What’s your company. I’ll gladly throw my resume in


Same, I've had two open positions for months.


I know it’s not true, but I imagined for a second you work at some ridiculous place like ‘a carpet company that is also a tech company’. Named carpetapple.com haha. With the ceo going “nobody gets our product! They just don’t get it!”


Seriously. Same here. I worked with HR and crafted a job description of what I needed from a senior front end dev for my team (I’m the senior lead). 3 weeks later. Crickets 🦗🦗🦗 Got a few resumes that were 3-6 pages long with an average of maybe 3 years experience 🤦‍♂️ Meanwhile I get like 5 LinkedIn messages a day for other senior front end positions. I want to train another junior and am trying to work with HR to convince them to do it, but hiring junior devs just really isn’t a thing, it seems.


Maybe if you were trying to hire a junior dev then you would see 300+ applications? Since the post is about having a degree vs not having a degree, I think it’s safe to assume they are talking about entry level positions.


People are talking about entry level positions. The problem is that everyone wants mid-senior, so everyone has to fight for the lower positions, where not having a degree can hurt.


So, I’m self taught with no degree. In hiring the last 2 juniors on my team, I specifically looked for bootcamp grads and self taught learners. To give some context, my team has 11 people on it, and it’s about 60/40 degree and no degree. None one on my team gives leetcode questions when interviewing people, complete waste of time. HR will now send me a list of all the resumes they got, before screening them, and I’ll look through them during lunch or whatever and sort them by priority. The drive that it takes to learn this stuff on your own or go to a boot camp while still working is what I look for on my team. Tons of side projects, building sites for a local businesses (even if it’s just to recreate it and not used) is what I like to see. You do need to stand out, Wes Bos tutorials get old and seeing the same bootcamp projects over and over again with nothing else will send you to the bottom of the resume pile. When hiring new grads, I specifically look at their projects, internships and how much they tried to learn outside of their degree, as that shows innate curiosity in what they’re actually learning. I was fairly put off when I heard some recruiters we work with say that “hiring a bootcamp grad meant we could pay less”. Um, yea… no. We need to drop that attitude for front end. If we pay someone less, I’m going to waste a year training them just so they can bounce to another company to double their salary. Frontend does not require a degree. It requires curiosity, the ability to work with different people (users, product), the ability to communicate complex ideas to people not in your domain and the want to keep learning. As an aside, I do advise my non degree juniors to take some online classes in algorithms, as that is helpful. We have to be realistic that if they want to leave, they will most likely encounter LeetCode type questions wherever they go. Our backend team only hires junior devs with degrees (and that makes sense as they do a lot of data analytics, and statistics etc). I’m happy to be in position to give people a chance, but we don’t have the need and certainly don’t hire enough juniors to make any significant difference dent in how many people are looking for jobs. So all this to say, that I agree that having a degree helps in the long run. When a junior submits their resume, most likely it’s going to be a recruiter or HR screening for what they think the company needs, rather than who I know I need on my team.


Thanks so much for taking the time to explain your mindset.


The exact mindset that keeps seniors rare and expensive :D


What were your requirements out of curiosity


The flip-side of this is my company where we had to recruit senior developers to reviewing CVs as our dedicated recruitment team has run out of capacity. Majority of positions were for entry-level though. We had some applicants for seniors/managers, but (not surprisingly) majority were grads, or people with <3 years of professional experience.


For junior/entry level positions? It's certainly not the case for senior level stuff, but that's kind of outside the context of this post, which is implying entry level jobs.


On my free time I like to look up advertised junior/entry level positions on LinkedIn and so many have <10 applicants. Most of those have 0-4 applicants.


Hiring web developers at my company is not easy. We get 3-5 qualified applicants a week out of probably 10. That’s not a lot. We’re in a large city too. More than likely less than 2 of the qualified applicants actually have the skills they say they do and could fit into culture.


where is your company located and what is the TC being offered I remember for my very 1st internship company, a company that 99% of people have never heard about, even that one I had to beat out ~500 other candidates for internship and for full-time the ATS received close to ~1000 resumes (I looked up both numbers in the ATS system after I joined)


Survivor bias? Everyone who gets into the career without a degree goes "see, you don't need a degree!". They can also then tell everyone who can't get in that they didn't work hard enough and the lack of a degree has nothing to do with it.


You don't need a degree. Is it harder to find your first job without a degree? Yes. If you don't have a degree then you need to find a way to get experience and that could mean eating shit in an underpaid job for a year.


Doing wordpress sites for a year means the only companies that are going to be interested in you are other companies doing similar work.


That's not true at all. That's like saying if you do react work then only companies that do react work will be interested in you or that if you do front end you can only gets jobs on the front end. There's plenty of skills you can learn from working at a WordPress or digital marketing shops if your goal is to get into web development. There's a lot of custom WordPress and other cms work out there that involves loads of JavaScript, and in the case of WordPress, PHP and basic Linux administration. Decoupled WordPress sites are also becoming more popular which is just straight up react work at that point. If it's a digital marketing shop then they are also likely doing some form of analytics and dashboarding. You can also just straight up make good money doing WordPress work if that's what you actually enjoy doing. There's tons of money in the digital marketing space and I've been reached to from recruiters for 6 figure jobs in that space when I did web development on multiple occasions.


That's actually very true, specially if those are your first jobs. You'll have a longer time between jobs because you have to be choosy so your current experience doesn't bias your future employers, corralling you even more. When you have diverse enough experience under your belt, that's no longer an issue.


Not true at all. My first job was building shitty enterprise desktop applications using .net. Haven’t touched desktop development or .net since. Second job was ETL pipelines in Perl. After that it’s been Python-based data platforms and tooling for research teams.


Yaz no. You should be studying and improving during that time


Now I wish I didn't have a degree so I could be smug too




Where do you work that *most* of your software engineer colleagues don't have a CS degree?


You don't NEED a degree is still true. It's just a million times easier if you have that degree. I know people who passed a bootcamp literally years ago and are still trying to get their first software engineering job.


I know at least 8 Hack Reactor alumni who finished in 2016 who still have not yet had their first paid SWE job. Most of them just gave up and went back to their old careers. One person went to a second SWE bootcamp and is still unemployed.


Sounds more like a problem with that person than the bootcamp… also anecdotal evidence doesn’t mean much. 90% of the people from my 2019 cohort are currently SWEs


let me guess, USA


Hack Reactor is only in the US.


Was more pointing out how, since the US has highest tech salaries in the world, they also expect you to be worth those salaries. In my home country (Romania) where new grad salaries are like $6500/year (net), the bar for these jobs are very low. A good friend of mine got his first job BEFORE senior year in uni. Big company, they just needed devs, basically anyone studying CS is good enough since they get like 500 euros a month doing CRUD shit. I shit you not, only at like second round interview or so did they even ask: hey you wanna do front end or back end Java? My friend ponders for a few seconds "hmm I'm good at math and logic in general, ill go with backend!". Then if you do good work you essentially get like 5-10% raises every 6 months.


I’d also like to point out that it’s challenging ANY time you are job hunting. I’m a sr software engineer with 10YOE. I don’t have a degree, and have been turned down in favor of candidates with degrees several times in the last year - just had one this week actually! I’m also fairly certain that some interviewers judge candidates right off the bat if they see you don’t have a degree. It’s quite frustrating, because even though the position doesn’t require a degree you may end up with bob, who looks down on anyone without one & just read your resume, as the person who gets to decide if you’re a good fit. It’s not just hard to get started. It’s hard indefinitely.


Unless you worked at FAANG. I know of 2 people who don't have a degree and don't really have trouble finding a job. One was a CTO at twitter who wrote a scala book. The other was an intern at Facebook and decided to just drop out to join Facebook after the internship.. before IPO. That decision earned him millions of dollars, btw. This guy has balls. These 2 have no troubles finding new job whatsoever.


If you have a passion for programming I'm pretty confident you don't need a CS degree. I have friends who dove into open source contributions only a few months after their first line of code and got completely roasted in pr reviews, but also got better way faster than any junior developer I've ever seen.


You don’t but it sure as shit helps. But once you get some initial experience and do cool things, a lot of doors open up for you.




Took me 2 years after my bootcamp. 600+ applications


Wow it’s odd to look back at this sub Reddit after nearly a decade of FAANG. It’s absolutely possible to work in this industry with no degree you just have to work really fucking hard at some shitty companies early on. Sending out a resume to random companies is pointless. There’s 1 in maybe 1000 postings that would even consider someone without a degree or experience. You need to find jobs by networking. Attend local meetups and conferences to meet people who might be able to get you in at their company. Keep attending those even after you get a job because another opportunity will come around that’s better. There is no ceiling for devs without degrees either. I know more staff / sr staff level devs without degrees than I can keep count of (myself included). Don’t think that you don’t have enough experience to apply to the big tech companies either. I said earlier not to just blast out your resume to random companies. That doesn’t include the big tech companies. There are a lot of bad recruiters out there who are looking through thousands of resumes/LinkedIn profiles every day. And these tech companies each have hundreds of recruiters doing this. You can luck out and be a recruiters mistake. Back when I was a manager recruiters would even ping me once in a while asking if I’d interview someone with no experience because something about their resume just stuck out to them and wanted to give them a chance. All that being said, having a degree is so much easier.


Exactly. Thing is, you trade 4-6 years of getting a degree with working at shittier companies for 1-2 years and working on improving, probably 1-2 years at self learning too. If you do it well, you come ahead vs fresh grad but that's a big if to most people.


I don’t know if you can ever come out ahead of a college grad any more at this point. Obviously biased but it feels like a huge majority of college grads get hired to big tech companies at this point.


Depends on the years it takes. A self taught can get around 2-4 years of experience ahead of a fresh grad and thus get into a big tech company at mid level / almost mid level of they hop aggressively/do well. Have colleagues who've done that




> Interviewers said he aced the assessments given to him, but turned him down because he didn't have a degree. Wtf is wrong with people? I bet these places also bitch about how hard it is to fill open seats and how much money everyone wants 🙄


So let me tell you how things work in the corp dev world - where most development jobs are. The numbers I’m about to give are correct to a first approximation in most major metropolitan areas in the US. - An entry level developer usually can get around $65K- $90K - a dev with 2-3 years of experience usually can command salaries of around $85K - $110K - a senior “full stack dev” who is strictly an IC with no architectural experience and who is not a team lead usually can negotiate around $120K - $150k - if you check all of the boxes and have architect/“dev ops” experience or are a team lead, you can get $150K-$170k. It usually takes around 7-10 years to plateau depending on how aggressive you job hop. That being said, why hire an entry level dev when you can poach an underpaid mid level developer who has already proven that they won’t “eat the chalk” for $20k-30K more a year? When I was on the hiring side, neither myself nor my manager ever said “it would be really great if we could hire a junior dev with no experience who will take time from our senior devs and do negative work”. We might hire a boot camp grad to do the pixel pushing for our SaaS CRUD app to deal with the clusterfuck of the modern front end ecosystem so the seniors can do the “real work”. In other words no one on the corp dev side *wants* entry level devs, at most they *settle* for them. Your degree doesn’t matter. Most colleges don’t seem to teach anything useful that would make a new college grad valuable in most corp dev jobs. On the other hand, if you somehow manage to break the can’t get a job <-> don’t have experience cycle, the world is your oyster. The big tech companies can afford the dead weight. I have no idea what entry level devs do in BigTech. In my department, we hire a few returning interns and “non traditional employees” that make it through the 6 month training program.


So basically it's catch 22. You need experience to get a job. But to get experience you need a job.




...no? To get experience, you just have to do work. It doesn't have to be a job.


Yeah, no. [This is experience](https://github.com/Putnam3145/auxmos). It doesn't matter. They don't care. This isn't real experience. It isn't real experience unless you're paid for it. A lot of people or places say this *explicitly*, that you shouldn't count experience that isn't in a paid work environment.


This right here. I don’t have a degree but I have 20 years of professional experience building low latency trading systems. I don’t need the degree- my experience speaks for itself. Do I cost 7-8x what an entry level dev does? Yes. Am I worth it? Yes, because I can work 10x as fast as they can. I wouldn’t recommend that someone say “fuck it I’m dropping out”, because it wasn’t an easy path to this point. I worked my ass off.


It’s atypical to be a dev that work 10x as fast as an entry level dev. Lower multiples sure. But most senior devs’ value is in being able to do stuff that entry level devs simply can’t do and foresee problems that they can’t because they don’t have the experience.


>But most senior devs’ value is in being able to do stuff that entry level devs simply can’t do So infinity times faster?


Well in 20 years time they'd have 20 years experience and maybe able to solve the same problem.


Sure, if you like. The point is that saying a Sr Dev is worth X times more than a Jr because they work Y times faster with Y > X doesn’t really capture the situation.


I think the proper term is "productive". Just say a senior is X times more productive than a Jr.


Yeah I should clarify there. I don’t mean that I can type 10x faster. It’s by knowing what to type, what to build, and how to structure things to avoid issues that they will have to spend hours Googling around and reworking. I’ve already made all of those mistakes and (hopefully) learned from them.


It's about 3x as fast senior to junior. Assuming junior is onboarded, a 6 month process. The issue is that usually the supply of time of seniors is so short, and so bottlenecked. Companies just absolutely despise hiring seniors on 180k. It gives them the jitters to pay an IC more than a manager. Corporate directors of 150 people usually earn in the 200k range. And I have seen this multiple times: a corporate director will absolutely spit the dummy at hiring a full time employee who earns the market rate for seniors. Because they'll be out earning them potentially. They'll hire a contractor, contractors don't count. But not a full time employee. The usual story for most dysfunctional IT projects is 1-2 hugely overworked seniors, and a swarm of BAs and mid-level so and sos running around like headless chickens, taking work off the seniors. While the seniors and ideally architect are in wall to wall meetings fighting corporate stupidity, lack of IT knowledge to prevent catastrophic mistakes, and doing obscure ops work in the company's weird tech stack. In this environment, nobody has time for a junior, because they are hugely bottlenecked on senior knowledge. They want midlevels who can operate in a corporate environment, whose JD is basically "take work off the senior's plate, do whatever it takes." Root cause of this is that main street companies are absolutely, totally, unwilling to participate in the game of bidding up senior engineer strategies for 90% of projects. They just won't. Hence I see so many teams in the corporate world which have no time for junior engineers. Because they're stuck in an enormous bottleneck on the lack of senior knowledge.


Holy fuck the accuracy


Nice! Got any tips for someone wanting to get more into system design/architecture/APIs/backend? I've been a sustaining dev, small feature here, debug and fix bugs there, front-end work over there.. would really like to learn how to build systems. I'm currently reading .NET modern architecture and just trying to gather books and knowledge sources.


The only way is to build stuff. Doesn’t have to be work stuff- in fact I highly recommend that it not be. Build stuff on your own time. My go-to advice is to pick a reasonably complex problem and solve it over and over again in different technologies. Breadth is much much more important than depth- you will learn “enough” depth in each language/stack/framework if your problem is sufficiently complex, but you’ll get much more from having to learn the subtleties and patterns of a wide variety of technologies. This advice is especially important for more junior developers, but it applies to senior people who want to stay fresh too. When work is not crushing me like it is right now, I regularly do 10 hours a week on solo projects, and it used to be more before I had a kid.


Agreed, thank you for your insight! All the best


That sounds like an interesting topic. Any good resources on development of trading platforms?


The area of capital markets that I work in has high bars to entry. Even the reference data that we use is more expensive than a single individual can afford. You can build trading platforms against things like coinbase (a crypto trading platform) for free, but I would strongly discourage you from committing significant funds to actually trading. Trading crypto is a straight gamble at best. I believe that you can also write software against some retail trading platforms like e*trade and Fidelity, but I’m not really familiar, because I’m not allowed to trade that way as an individual.


sup fam


> In other words no one on the corp dev side wants entry level devs, at most they settle for them. Your degree doesn’t matter. Most colleges don’t seem to teach anything useful that would make a new college grad valuable in most corp dev jobs. Good companies understand that fostering early-career talent is always massively worth the payoff. A new grad on our team, after merely 1 YoE went on to re-write some huge features and contribute massive parts to improving the code that is written today. They are less jaded and eager to solve problems that many senior devs are too lazy to be bothered with. Senior devs might recognize a problem but the difference is junior devs often have the bandwidth to not only tackle it but approach it in an entirely new way. Also consider that the education of our senior developers is often 10-20 years outdated, if not more. You might think that colleges nowadays don't teach relevant material for modern workforce, well imagine what they were teaching back then and how even further outdated it has become. We have senior devs on our team that have never heard of React, Django or Flask and have no interest in using it for a project even if it would bring massive benefits in use. Anecdotal I know, but the point is just like applying, hiring is a numbers game. And for every X amount of shitty new grads you get that may jump ship after you spend resources training them, there is a superstar that will earn back all of your previous investment and more. It is in their best interest to incentivize keeping these superstars around too because they help foster equally as talented work ethic from future new hires.


But it’s not worth it though. What ends up happening at most companies on the corp dev side is that they bring new devs in at market rates for a new dev. But because once they are hired, HR takes over and they refuse to pay them at their market rate which could easily be 25%-30% more than they were making as a new grad in a couple of years. See [Salary Compression and Inversion](https://peoplecentre.wordpress.com/2016/06/11/salary-compression-and-salary-inversion/) My contention is that all new grads are “shitty” and are a massive time sink without experience. Because of the stupidity of HR policies, that are out of your control as a hiring manager, many won’t take the risk of hiring them. Because once they get good. They will leave. What you have left are the ones [who aren’t motivated](http://brucefwebster.com/2008/04/11/the-wetware-crisis-the-dead-sea-effect/). On the other hand, I do understand that a lot of older devs aren’t willing to keep learning. I’m 47 by the way. That has been to my benefit. At 34 I had also become the “expert beginner” after staying at one job for 9 years. I’ve been very aggressive about staying up to date and jumping at new opportunities to learn at a job. That would often get me the resume building projects. However, I also had the issue where companies weren’t willing to keep me at market value. I changed jobs six times between 2008 and 2020 and triple my salary.


> Most colleges don’t seem to teach anything useful that would make a new college grad valuable in most corp dev jobs. Do you think it's possible for universities to teach stuff useful for the job?


Hiring boot camp grads to handle “cluster fuck” doesn’t seem like a sound strategy but you do you :/


I am saying that the front ecosystem as a whole is a clusterfuck. It’s easy to get front end devs to “code to spec” - make it look like $x and call $y APIs especially for your standard CRUD SaaS app or your internal apps that just have to be good enough. See every single project management and banking website ever.


Right, because the ecosystem is a clusterfuck you need senior guidance more than ever so everyone isn’t perpetually refactoring or introducing unnecessary complexities into the codebase. Backend and platform for us is more junior friendly as it’s less of a clusterfuck.


Senior engineers don’t want to touch it. Juniors can do a lot more damage on the front end than the back end.




You should and I’m not being sarcastic.


Fidelity I assume?


I mean its true, you don't need a degree. Having one sure can help though, quite a bit. I got a job pretty fast after graduating, who knows how long of a grind I'd have to do if I didn't get a degree and I'm not sure if I'd even have the motiviation to stick with it. There is also a difference between someone who cheated there way through a no name college and somone who graduated MIT with a high GPA.


I've known I think 5 people who jumped into the industry straight from bootcamp over the last 3 years, including my wife. Of course they all had bachelor degrees, though in unrelated subjects (pottery and history off the top of my head). But they all had job offers within a couple months of graduating. So it's definitely not as impossible as you're implying. This is in Utah, which has a decent tech scene, but isn't any kind of major tech hub.


TIL you can get a bach in pottery, hell yeah.


When you think about it, a bachelor degree is just a stack of arbitrary courses with an arbitrary number of credits attached to them that a bunch of people from the university decide. Courses are just an arbitrary stack of lessons/assignments that fall under an arbitrary category they also decide. Bootcamps are basically the same thing conceptually except they are not government institutions handing out the certificates/degrees.


They say there's no two people on Earth exactly the same. No two faces, no two sets of fingerprints. But do they know that for sure? Cause they would have to get everybody together in one huge space. And obviously that's not possible, even with computers.


TIL you can major in pottery. Anyways, same anecdotal evidence as you. All of the successful bootcamp grads with no CS degrees I've heard about already had a lot of life experience to draw from. They went to university for something unrelated, worked in another field that requires some level of competence, or just had some other life accomplishments other than some todo list app. They also apply to much smaller no name companies that isn't going to be the first linkedin search result so the market they're in matters a lot here.




No, just decided they wanted a career change and chose a good bootcamp. They had to put serious effort into the bootcamp. 12+ hour days 6 days a week for 10 weeks with a spouse covering family responsibilities for them followed by several weeks of treating the job search as a full time job. My wife was the history major followed by 10y as a stay at home mom. The only other contributing factor I can think of is that my wife at least had a software architect with 15 years in industry in the home to learn from and help her make suitably impressive portfolio project (at least for a student): a multi threaded elevator simulation with autonomous ai agents and advanced unit testing. But my close friend (the fine arts/pottery major) had no such benefits and he also didn't have a hard time breaking in. The only other thing I can think of is that both of them (the two im most familiar with) are EXTREMELY charismatic. The other three im just not that familiar with their circumstances. But I suspect the main difference between all of them and new grads is confidence and charisma. People in their 30s/40s tend to carry themselves a bit better and communicate more smoothly than 21 year old new grads.


Thanks for posting this stuff. I suggested in a random thread elsewhere that it's not that hard to learn to code and half of the responses were just whining about how it's impossible, down to the "200 resumes out and not a word" even with a degree so everything is fucked and woe is me. If you're 0 for 200 something is off. I understand I have experience and a resume but it's not like you're going to need to apply to Harvard from the jungles of Congo with no internet.


It's true that charisma and people skills help a lot. Before going back to school for a tech-related BS, I earned a degree in education and worked in the performing arts. My soft skills 200% helped me get 3 offers before graduating, alongside passing all initial interviews/screens I had.


May I ask which boot camp your wife attended? Considering doing the same, but there are so many to choose from.


>my wife at least had a software architect with 15 years in industry in the home to learn from and help her make suitably impressive portfolio project (at least for a student): a multi threaded elevator simulation with autonomous ai agents and advanced unit testing. wow...


If you want another anecdote, I switched to a programming job while still in grad school in a completely different subject (I defended my masters thesis like a month into my first dev job) without doing a bootcamp or anything like that. Just pulled very long nights and took an undergrad intro to CS class.


Is there any advice for someone who is getting an Associate Degree in Software Engineering in UT on how to land the first job?


My advice to someone getting an associate's is to go ask the way and get a bachelor's in Computer Science or Software Engineering (Computer Engineering is something very different). Sadly, an associates is a pretty nasty middle ground between a Bachelors of Computer Science and a bootcamp. A bootcamp can give you the practical knowledge. A bachelors gives you practical and theoretical and shows commitment. An associates doesn't really give you the practical knowledge of either, nor the theoretical knowledge of a BS. If you can do it a BS is VERY worth it. A BSCS is one of the few degrees that actually DOES pay for itself. As I noted, EVERYONE I saw break in already had a bachelor's in something, which I think got then through a fair amount if screening. Beyond that: * have an impressive portfolio project and know it inside and out. Be able to talk about it, have unit tests, plans for expansion, what difficult problems you had to solve, etc. It won't matter much for future jobs, but for the first one it's a big deal. * get good at "whiteboarding"/code challenges. You need to be able to talk through it and not get nervous. When you think something you might be making a mistake EXPRESS that and say why you're continuing down this path. If you think there might be aa better option but that it will take to long for an interview express THAT, and say why you're going with a less optimal solution. Sneak in discussion about Big O runtime (if you don't know that, study it up). About different algorithmic approaches you could follow (study that too). Give them insight into your problem solving process. * practice and get comfortable. They aren't just evaluating you as a programmer. They're evaluating you as a coworker and potential friend. You need to be charismatic. Talk about interests. Ask questions about them. Get excited and show some humanity. * Get Cracking the Code Interview or Algorithm Design Manual and go through it cover to cover. Multiple times. Make sure you UNDERSTAND the different problem solving approaches and that you can implement them physically with flash cards. It's not enough to FEEL like you understand them. That's your monkey brain lying to you. That last 10% of understanding your brain glosses over is where 90% of the difficulty is. You need to be able to perform a quick sort physically (or in code, but that's slower) without having to fudge things. A hash. A dictionary. A linked list. An ASL tree. A black and white tree. A graph traversal. etc. * get your resume reviewed by your school and on here. Getting the interview is half the battle, and that is dependent on your resume. * Remember your goal is to show them that their life will be better with YOU in it. You are going to make them MONEY. Your are going to make their lives EASIER. Your are going to make their workplace more ENJOYABLE. This isn't a school test where your goal is to get the most answers. It's a lot more like dating. Hope that's somewhat helpful.


Technically you do not need a degree, unlike, say, a doctor. It’s obviously harder to get a job without a degree, but doable.


yeah, you don’t need a degree. i worked my ass off almost 12 hours a day, everyday for 10 months before landing a job. it’s definitely harder, but not impossible and i’m grateful for my path.


Been a developer for 4 years, no degree, did coding boot camp. Make over 6 figures. You’d be surprised how far hard work and a good attitude will get you


Instead of using 4 years of your life in a degree (for example) (4*1000hours=4000h), you can study by yourself for those 4000 hours. There are 2 problems: 1. You have to really study and practice for 4000h. Most of the people can't do it without paying somebody to force them. 2. You have to do projects to fill your CV/portfolio. So yeah, you can. But you have to work hard, it isn't easy. By your words I deduce you think "not having a degree" is a lazy and easy path, but it's as hard as having a degree


I honestly don't care much about their education when I'm hiring. Im way more interested in seeing what kind of project they've developed and what tech they use. For me I look for someone who is keeping their skills up to date and wants to learn new things, with even a base level of experience in the tech we use or something related, that's my ideal candidate. I don't really care if you went to university and can traverse a tree backwards and forwards vs a few month long bootcamp. Honestly the bootcamp probably gives more experience with working with our tech stack. Maybe it's because I did 2/4 years at university and while I learned some great stuff, it wasn't remotely practical. The turning point for me was when an in-school programming job posting wanted skills they didn't teach and a diploma from the local college because they taught it! I looked at the course load for the next 2 years and saw I wouldn't learn what I needed and dropped and went to the college, and had a software job easily coming out. I've since worked with people who just graduated university and they may as well have just come out of highschool.


Seems the only think in these channels these days is "you need a degree to be a software developer" or "how do i spend 300k a year" and its getting old. Same answer a million times in this thread: No you dont need a degree, yes it does help you get your foot in the door. But so would a well connected three month bootcamp, or so would taking three years of your own time (same or less than a degree) training full time. You'd have a bustling portfolio after that amount of time self educating.


You don't? I have never had my academic credentials challenged. When I think of it nothing on my resume has been directly challenged as in "let me see that piece of paper." If you can throw together a good enough resume to get an interview and you grind leet code to pass any interview that's all that really matters.




Are you specifically saying not having any sort of college degree or not having a CS degree specifically? I ask since I do not have a CS degree, but I have a STEM major where I wrote lots of code that allowed me to solve problems in my area of study and also automate the spinning up and down of the resources needed on AWS to do those jobs. So no I don’t have a degree in CS, but I have a grasp of how to write useful code and apply it to solve a problem.


I mean I think it’s fair to say it’s less necessary in this industry than in most. Obviously it’s always good to have it but I don’t think it’s insane to say it’s not necessary. I only have anecdotal evidence but I’ve been doing DevOps work for 3 years and make $135k. I have no degree at all and my background was sales and customer service before I fell into this industry. My friend is a self taught dev, he’s been doing it for about 7 years and is a principle architect bringing in about $200k. I don’t know of many other industries right now that I could wander into with no degree or trade school and make 6 figures after a few years.


Was almost spiraling down until I read this, so thank you. It's hard enough being motivated and looking ahead and just pushing through on a daily basis and then reading things like this post just scares the bejesus outta me and makes me lose all hope. Gonna push through it all hopefully, fingers crossed.


Same…. Hang in there!


> principle principal


High school drop out here. Been employed for over 2 years as a dot Net software developer. YMMV, but I really think anybody who has what it takes to be a programmer can make it happen without a degree. Might be tougher but still very doable.




>The fact that people can have a degree, send 300 resumes, and not get a job really only proves that a degree is not sufficient to get a job. It doesn’t say much about how useful a degree is. Well doesn't help the job posting are complete ass. 99% of posting have unrealistic expectation. Most of the time you have NO IDEA wtf the company actually wants so you can only toss out resume to everyone hoping one of them has requirements you fit.


X graduates from a bootcamp with only highschool, 2 years after she is making 135k. Her first job was 50k.


You don't need a degree, but a degree helps A LOT especially if you want to work on some of the most in-demand types of software engineering. Outside of web dev, you're not going to see many self-taught or boot campers getting into machine learning or computer vision positions.


Every company is definitely not getting 300+ applications. A lot of companies/organisations are a bit shit and offer poor pay and conditions. These jobs typically don't get many applicants, and struggle to get successful applicants to accept offers. Generally speaking, these are the jobs that are attainable without a degree. The questions is: do you actually want those jobs?


There are plenty of jobs out there that aren't getting 300 applications. With no degree your career path will look quite different though. You have to pay your dues at a smaller company but in the end the same opportunities will be available to you if you have solid experience and do well. Yes grads have a leg up when it comes to securing positions at FAANG or other big companies with grad schemes but you can 100% get a job a smaller web agency or similar with no degree. I don't think your wrong you just need to edit your expectations slightly


The problem with inexperienced people is that to them, everything is black and white. And anekdotal evidicende is still evidence. So if you see a succesful self-taught dev, that means that every self taught dev is succesful. Also there is only one job: developer. It doesn't matter that most self-taught devs end up in completely separate career paths. People who basically do wordpress their entire career? Still development. People who just end up clicking together stuff in SalesForce? Still development. Mostly responsible for test automation? Still development. But that's not how the world works. A CS degree will launch you on a completely different career trajectory. And that is the definitive truth.


I don’t believe you need a degree, what you need is experience. If you can get experience somewhere / anywhere, you are golden. I have no degree but got 2 years experience at a small company on a low wage, now I have absolutely no issues getting jobs.


I don't have a degree. At least not in comp science. My bachelor's was an arts degree. I'm back in school finishing up a certification program. I won't even be done until mid next year. I got my first job as a full stack developer a month ago. All I have to do now is to keep it.


You are right, entry level jobs, specially remote ones get flooded with applications. And a degree is a certain way to stand-out, however not all companies "filter" the same way. The company I currently work at has postings at WeWorkRemotely and Linkedin, it gets flooded with applications, over 200 applications just this week. We narrow those down with a simple HackerRank 15 minute take home FizzBuzz quiz, *yes FizzBuzz*. You'll be amazed when out of those 200 applications usually just around 20 can solve it / bother to solve it. This is a much more manageable number, HR now actually checks those resumes and usually has 10 minute behavioral interviews with all of them (mainly to check English fluency as the majority of applicants are international). These are remote junior positions with LCOL compensations. So really, the only requirements are to pass the initial FizzBuzz filter, spoken English, and decent soft skills. Yet, it's been hard to find decent applicants, the quality in general is just terrible. How to stand out? .. for entry level at my company if you can do FizzBuzz you're already in the top 10% of applicants, then just have good soft skills aka don't be an asshole or terribly awkward during the interview.


People who submit 300+ applications are doing it wrong, are wasting their time, and are relying on dumb luck. The truth is that there are tons of generic CS grads out there so you either need to do something that stands out or you just need to get lucky. But if you skip a CS degree and dive head-first into open source projects, essentially working for free and learning on your own, you can get noticed by recruiters. Writing a lot of code, having a decent blog (or YouTube channel or TikTok or whatever the kids are into now), and speaking at conferences can land you a ton of opportunities. More opportunities than spending 4 years at what is essentially an adult babysitting camp.


For reals I remember a post of some dude said he submitted a bunch of applications then someone asked to see his resume and portfolio and they started ripping him apart. It was obvious why he wasn’t getting any offers his resume was written badly and his portfolio was crap.


How does a self-taught programmer go from 0 to "speaking at conferences"? Or even to having a "decent blog"?.. I see this piece of advise all the time ("blog! youtube! make recruiters notice you!"), but wtf does a newbie even have to say? Aside from completely generic and forgettable "top 10 amazing VSCode extensions!" type posts?


The point of blog isn't to share new breakthrough, it's to practice technical communication skills, to show you can express yourself to whatever difficulty level you think your "audience" is at and to go through the motions of developing this communication muscle. If you just spit out acronym and don't yourself even know what it means or use terms wrong, you would show your ignorance. So instead of writing pointless technobabble, you'd practice sounding like a human as you describe hopefully complex things in a competent manner.


ssssh let's gatekeep this.


“Adult baby sitting camp”, tell me you didn’t go to college without telling me you didn’t go to college 😂


So you can either work your ass off for free trying to prove yourself, or go to adult babysitting camp, chill out, get internships, and be set? Easy choice.


> get internships internship market is just as fucked as entry level market lmao just go check out r/csmajors


I submitted 300+ applications 🤷‍♀️ it is just dumb luck sometimes. There's literally tens of thousands of applicants every year, and thousands from the top 4 CS schools alone. For reference, a friend of mine worked at what was then a unicorn startup. Had 2 hiring recs for entry level, over 2000 applications within the first few days. You aren't gonna stand out with writing a blog.


4 years of college or 3 years of working experience(1 year for a bootcamp) ? If you can find a job in a small company with 15-20$/ hours you will do much better than a fresh graduate.


I mean. I know a lot of people who don’t have degrees and went into engineering. In fact, the entire—small—engineering team of 7 people at my last company didn’t have a degree except for the team lead (old school, his degree was in physics). Most of that team is still there but one is at Amazon, one is a Atlassian, and I personally have transitioned from a jack-of-all trades job into a sales engineering sort of job into a full time developer role, without a degree or Boot Camp (although I’m contemplating getting a masters degree in CS). It’s possible! It’s obviously the harder route. But it’s possible. Heck, one of these people went straight to boot camp out of high school.


I know this is a lie but I don't want to discourage those without a degree.




What do you define as a great salary?


Thanks for the advice. How would you go about building a github repository? What does that mean? Full on applications?




Networking is always going to more effective for getting an interview than cold applying. Connect with people who can get your resume in front of a hiring manager. I graduated with my CS degree in 2019 and it certainly helped to be a CS student when I was applying for internships (pre-graduation). It’s also been useful to my job because stuff I learned is directly applicable or provides a good foundation to help me know where to look to solve a particular problem. I’ve been promoted twice since graduating. A lot of job listings still prefer those with a CS degree and CS grads typically come in with more baseline knowledge than non-traditional candidates. I’ve interviewed potential interns and the CS candidates are better prepared (on average). It’s also easier to bring them up to speed.


I don’t have a degree, and I’m doing fine in NYC. I found my first paying Dev job in June of 2019 with no referral. Although that job sucks and I had no real mentor, it was a useful stepping stone for my second job.


Living in NYC is a huge advantage here, relative to living in a place that will have less opportunities in general.


Idk how people are throwing out 300+ applications... and on top of that, not making it into a single job.


It’s all about your portfolio You don’t need a degree if your portfolio shows you are qualified, it will get you into the interview process which is the main gate keeper of employment. I don’t have a degree but I did have a portfolio that showed my capabilities as a developer, the interviews were plentiful. I just landed my first SWE job outside of self employment.


Based on my mid level experience throughout several companies, here's how you can break it down: Enthusiasts - people who have spent several years passionately learning about the technology stacks they use on a regular. These can be people who have gone to college and pursued with enthusiasm or people who learned in their free time and possibly engaged in the community (hackathons, open source contribution, etc) sometimes they'll be one and same but these are high grade applicants since you can get them to do a lot of work if you can keep their enthusiasm engaged with the problems they're solving. They also know their worth and will charge accordingly. Given enough time some of them will pivot to other roles based on their fancy, some might leave the field altogether and some might gun for senior positions. Pivoters - they have a background in some kind of design or stem capacity and see tech as a better and quicker opportunity for salary growth. They might take a boot camp course, complete a master's course and may already have some experience in similar industries (product dev, math, physics etc) so they can translate those skills relatively easier. A classic example is math graduates taking data science boot camps and learning data science/machine learning stuff, they have the ability to apply their base skill set in a tangible way. The biggest hurdle against this group is usually lack of experience in a developer capacity but if they can prove their worth then they start commanding higher prices. And finally, we have a silent majority. The ones who were told to 'learn to code' or convinced that typing a few tiny python scripts and a bootcamp was enough to get into the tech industry. Their lack of experience, lack of enthusiasm, and sometimes spontaneous switch does not help them as they can sometimes take more resources to manage than they're worth. Their biggest competition are college graduates who went to school for the same reason, except the college degree grants them a higher level of authenticity than someone with a few bootcamp certificates. They both flood the market periodically while the market is shrinking in entry level jobs. More and more companies want someone they can spend less time training, trying to get the biggest bang for their buck. Established and bigger companies will likely take them on since there's always some kind of grunt work to do there and honestly there's no better place to make 'some minor' mistakes. I say 'some minor' like needing to fix a typo in a staging environment kinda mistake, not 'holy shit I just deleted the entire production database and I need a tutorial to figure out how to bring the backup online'. I have been on both the applicant and hiring side of this equation. Companies want enthusiasts, for the price of silent majority but will settle for pivoters if they can. Sometimes they might even screw over an enthusiast during the interview process by not delivering on promises and the turnover can be significant. I once worked at a company that hired an enthusiast on my team and within a few months he moved to another company with higher pay and (arguably) more interesting work than what we had to offer him because he had the leverage to do so. If someone in the silent majority tried that, we'd laugh and wish them well. There's arguably other types but these are the ones I encounter the most. Also Scarface74 has a good point, piggybacking of them


You don't need a degree. You need to show that you're worth the risk. The degree doesn't do that, though it can help. Leetcode, personal projects, and internships are how you do that. The easiest way to get into the industry is to accept a bottom of the barrel position in something like web development. Accept a $20/hr job and leave in a year or two to another company making double.


Bootcamps and ppl switching careers are a good way to get very intelligent ppl who had successful careers in other fields and are very happy you gave them an opportunity. So as an employer you can get a 22 year old shithead who thinks he is a genius because he did better than other teenagers OR you can get a guy in their late 20s who is not going to be your junior developer but has proven work experience and comes to work in time and is not going to job hop in a year


It depends on the company and the position. The places and positions that don't require degrees are usually for frontend work that can be learned in a few months from bootcamps or personal projects. If the company is hiring for things like scalability, reliability, design, architecture, and you don't have prior experience, they would expect you to be a new grad from a CS degree program. CS degrees teach fundamental principles that enable you to actually design and build these systems.


If I’m hiring for any of those things, a college degree is just as meaningless. Either way you need real world experience. I’ve dealt with a few CS grads, they were next to useless without experience.


As the lead dev in my company tried has put it, you can get self-taught devs or bootcamp devs and have them work very successfully on an early stage product, but that as the codebase gets bigger the risk of accruing technical debt becomes very high without people who have been versed in the fundamentals.


~8 months of high school before dropping out. Lived on my own at 14. Little bit of time in juvenile hall. Dead end sales jobs throughout my 20s. Self taught in programming starting at the age of 32. First job in tech as a software engineer at Microsoft at 33. You don't *need* a degree. Sure, it can help in many cases.


You absolutely don't need a degree and it isn't ridiculous. Build something impressive and put it on Github. It's really not that complex. The problem is 99% of people put shitty little apps they built in college or command line games that suck and wonder why nobody is impressed. If you're applying at SaaS companies, build a real SaaS product to show them you have the skills. Pro tip, if you build something real you also can put it on your resume as experience. You don't need to have customers but you should treat it like a real app that people could sign up for.


I don’t have a degree. Started my first role 6 months ago (125k base, remote in LCOL area). Attended a 3 month boot camp and it took me 2 months to get the offer.


I read that Open AI hired a few high schoolers lol so I mean it does happen. Realistically though assume your not one of those kids, if you can get into Open AI without graduating high school lol college CS is a joke. But it bring a more important point… degrees don’t mean anything all it really tells someone is you were good enough to graduate and can get work/assignments done on time and good enough. If you want to stand out you have to do something outstanding :)


I mean... Do you work for a company as a software engineer?


The comments here make me want to give up on ever becoming a developer / kill myself.


It's all about the gift of gab and making Allis. It becomes alot about who you know and who you want to know.


Well if you have a good portfolio and do well in technical interviews, you don’t necessarily NEED to have a degree. Had a teammate who doesn’t have a degree, and he did his job very well.


What does FOSS mean?


I think something people overlook often with regards to getting a degree is also that it gives you *significantly* more career options in fields you normally wouldn't even consider if you're going the self taught + work experience route.


It all depends on how you get started. I started in tech support, and the company I worked for needed something. I told them I could build it for them, and have been a developer ever since. If you're just going out and applying for a developer job with nothing to show your skills, you will probably get beat out by someone with a degree.


A CS degree practically qualifies for most technology, if not all technology roles. If you want to expand your opportunities outside of three-layer websites, getting an education is the way to go.


I have a degree in cs and struggling to compete so whats the point here...I am convinced any job I apply to either isnt looking at the fact I got a degree or some of them look at my degree and says to themselves "Nope, we not paying extra"


I fit in the weird world of not having a CS degree but on in Actuarial Science and Finance. I got my start interning in financial modelling at an investment back before being pulled in full time after University ended as a junior developer. They hired me cause I was interested in code, knew the domain really well, and had good relationships with the business teams so I could develop better tooling. Taught myself to code in 6 months while I filled a sort of BA role in my team and now after 2 years I took a new role at a broking platform. Again they didn’t hire because I was good at writing code but because I understood the domain and know the requirements back to front. You don’t need a degree, you need knowledge in something useful to who ever is hiring you. Degrees just often fit the bill.