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Can you get hired as a developer without computer science degree?

Hi there, I just wanted to ask the community if any of you managed to get hired as a developer without Computer Science degree. I thought it was possible to learn on my own , but recently my brother who is a QA , working in the field for 6 years, told me that these days it is not possible any more to enter the field based on self tought knowledge and bootcamps, and you don't even get to have an interview , because HR staff only takes in consideration CV-s with a degree. What is your experience with this?

11/5/2018 7:17:07 PM


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David Caroll, thank you! It feels so good to be part of such a great and supportive tech community here!


A degree helps. However, some of the best talent I've come across in the professional development world have degrees in unrelated fields or didn't finish college. If you can demonstrate your skill with a portfolio, references, and even better, another developer in that company, who can vouch for you, it's very possible. However, please be aware, there is an abundance of mediocre developers with CS degrees who shouldn't be in the industry. They really lack the passion and ability to succeed as developers. While there seems to remain a place for these people in maintaining legacy systems, there is little to no room for a self-taught mediocre developer. So... be sure this is something you are a) passionate about, b) capable of learning independently, and c) able to demonstrate your abilities with a rich portfolio. Best of luck on your journey!


Hi Im developer with MSc in CS and couple of years of experience. I am also technical recruiter in our IT company responsible for CV evaluations and interviews. As we also look for junior programmers we know that even person with CS degree needs to learn a lot to be able to work on real projects. In other words - CS degree is helpful, gives us an general information what the candidate should know but it is not must have. We give also the chance for people without IT related education: self-learners, people with trainings, code schools etc. Please remember that there is lack of IT specialists on market, so companies also need to create them from valuable, not graduated people. General expectation in our company for junior dev is to know min. one ObjectOriented language, basic algorithms, data structures, basic SQL, design patterns and logical thinking. It is also good to know sth about unit tests and git/svn. The basics, not everything. And then you can start your work and... learn from "older" coworkers.


Miking Your friend is incredibly fortunate for that to happen. The key is to get hired by "that first company" who gives you a chance. Once hired, the next thing is to grow as much as possible while in that company to be better prepared for "that next opportunity." I've hired people with no experience or formal training before. But it was due to prior knowledge of who they are and how they learn that helped me move forward with the decision. In the few dozen or so people I've helped in my career, only 10% were successful and are thriving today in this field. The difference between those who made it and those who didn't were if they were hired by me or found work with another company. If they worked for me, I was able to personally ensure they were set up for success at their level while growing their skill. The other reason is these people had much more determination in them to succeed. It's a lot of work for those with no formal background in programming. But it is most certainly possible.


<Lorelei16> One of the developers on my team started out as an animator using Adobe Illustrator, Flash, and After Effects. He was spending his free time writing automation scripts to prep his output from AI to use in Flash. This was the start of his transitioning into a developer. His creative, artistic mind makes him even more unique in a good way among other developers. You have the same situation with the added experience with tech support, sales, and being an end user. This is a great combination of exposure giving you insight on how to build features based on the user, not from a dev perspective. In short, it's not too late for you. Rather, it sounds like a perfect time.


Everything is about passion and motivation to practice and learn new things for your whole life ;) As the proof: we had some people after civil engineering studies, maths, chemistry... Even some people without any university degree. And please remember that IT is not only programming: manual and automatic testers, Agile specialists (Scrum Master, Product Owner...), business analysts - people that help to understand and describe the requirements, talk with clients, create User Stories etc. Even UX (user experience) specialists to take care of proper screens and applications GUI and processes design (to create useful, easy to use software) etc. If you want to create good CV please include all training, courses, online tutorials, books that you read and learn from. Also very good is to include link to some code repository (for example Github) wher you store your examples - that is the proof that you really did something, not only read about it :)


<Lorelei16> What is your current professional background and experience? There could be benefits you may not be aware of with your non dev skills that could give you advantages over someone with one dev experience.


Everytime you finish a project, put it into a 'portfolio'. No matter how simple or small it is. This becomes your marketing tool as well as a journal which you can track the progress of your expertise


Daen Rowe You aren't wrong. In fact there is an abundance of professional developers in the industry that see it as a job and have no interest in learning anything new or improving the work they currently do. It is the contrast between these developers and developers like myself that make me shine, remain in high demand, and well compensated. 😎 That said, I believe the "be passionate" advice is more about people encouraging others to hang in there. Ultimately, it serves very little value and provides no roadmap for how to push forward. It also evades addressing the potentual reality that the person might not be cut out for programming.


So in conclusion: degree might make easier the" getting the first job" process, but you can compensate with a great portfolio, reference of projects, networking, etc, and once you got hired, you can evolve to better jobs and projects, based on the experience, performance, skillset you have and gain constantly. We have a great support and tech community here :)


My friend began to study early this year and after six months he completed some udemy course for a web developer. One month after that he got a job as a web developer. In his resume he had only two projects, todo list and some web app. And I think they gave him a job offer. For the frontend it is easier to get a job without a degree.


Also, don't just practice coding. The INTERVIEW is what gets you the job! Research!!! Know about the company, the industry (space), questions asked during the interview. Come PREPARED!!!!!


While working at a catholic university, I worked with a priest who learned a programming language on his own. He was in his sixties! If you're familiar with Kentucky Fried Chicken, Col. Sanders started it when he was past 60. IT'S NEVER TOO LATE TO START WORKING ON ANYTHING. 👍


Daen Rowe Portfolios can be risky for those with little to no professional experience. Portfolios, at this level, will typically lack relevant, meaningful depth and are riddled with so many issues and bad practices. More often than not, candidates are unable to explain the reason for certain decisions on why they implemented some logic or coded it the way they did. In my experience, it's very rare to come across a portfolio that speaks for itself in a flattering way on behalf of an inexperienced candidate. Ultimately, portfolios can be great if the meaning of "well put together" aligns with the expectations of the hiring company.


The knowledge is the key and not the degree!!! Portfolio is your golden ticket!!!!


David Carroll, I have multiple artistic study background (i learned film direction, animation Adobe, PS, Premiere,AE and stuff, I did some short films and documentaries) but currently I work as a medical representative. Before this, I've been a medical software representative for 4 and half years (2012-2016), selling and implementing medical software for doctors and whole clinics, and doing technical support, and now I am angry on myself that I didn 't begin coding that time. My brother is a QA for 7 years now, he told me in 2012 to start to study. But I lived all my life thinking that I'm no good for IT and all this stuff, because I've seen technical guys like my brother, who spent all his life at the pc, and had all the technical background and study, versus myself who I'm more the artist-non technical kind. Now I'm thinking about how could I animate by code all my Adobe Illustration and Ps created caricatures. That would be in a nutshell. 😊


I feel both the ways are equivalent. Getting a degree from a reputed university is also an achievement that will help you to get jobs but i feel only toppers deserves the best out of it. On the other hand if you have learned something on your own and if you are passionate about it and you can show that through your work then i believe no degree will stop you from being on top in the industry. We all know that the current CEO of the giants are those who are carrying the top degrees but the founders of such giants were more passionate without any degrees or diplomas. Do i need to mention any names here! 🙂


Having a degree from a good University will open a lot of doors for you


Ja Mi Excellent feedback for this question! Looking forward to seeing more of your responses here in the community.


A portfolio / cv gets your foot on the door. That's why if your just starting, you'd get a better chance of getting a job with small and medium enterprises. It's really important to get help from family, friends, former classmates. Recruiters rely on refferals and there's concern on reliability.