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Software developer jobs without degrees - Good or bad ?

 
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These days we see many people in the US who get software engineering jobs without having a degree in computer science or any background in science. IMO, it is great that people get dev jobs at companies ranging from obscure to big name companies, regardless of whether they have the aptitude for software development or not.

There are plenty of small companies which need a simple website for which a CS degree is not really needed on the job. Ex. Dentists, local real estate, lumber yards etc. There are also startups run by deluded folks who are building the next clone of Facebook, Grubhub, Blue Apron etc. or even the next vaporware. Non-cs devs who lack the aptitude can get jobs at these companies with relative ease. If they were working in low wage jobs earlier, then they can at least make more money as devs while the demand for devs exceeds the supply. If an economic downturn happens and there is an excess supply of devs, then they can always go back to their low wage job if it is still available. Making money during the gold rush is far better than being at a low wage job forever. The gold rush money can be spent on a CS degree, saved in a bank, put towards a house in a small city etc. OTOH, the non-cs devs who actually have the aptitude, can get jobs in better companies and might do quite well. They might have better chances of surviving an economic downturn, but there are no guarantees.

So, I think that getting dev jobs without any degree, background or aptitude is a win win for job seekers. But, I don't know if it is good for their employers or for the industry in general. What do you think about this ?
 
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I never managed to score a degree. Although a college education was a LOT more affordable back when I was in school, I was entirely self-financed and had to keep interrupting the formal studies in the need to keep paying the bills.

Despite this, I spent over half a decade as a mainframe OS-level programmer for a major corporation, did development on the Mac, worked on embedded systems, founded my own corporation to develop and promote C++ back when C++ was so new that IBM PC's couldn't run it, published in major computer magazines and a lot of other stuff besides. Oh yes, and moderated on the JavaRanch/CodeRanch for a decade or so.

I will grant that a lot of companies these days have a no-degree/no-hire policy, but that's HR's decision and not indicative of my competence or that of people I have worked with. Indeed, one employer had considered such a policy and backed down when notified that probably half the people who kept their systems running on a daily basis wouldn't qualify.

Hiring managers have for decades insisted that they'd rather hire an English Teacher to program than hire someone with an IT degree because they felt that someone with a non-technical background could be trained to be technical easier than a technically-trained person could learn to be "business-like".

A lot have things have definitely changed over the years, there's a lot of skills you can learn in school and employers these days routinely demand that everyone from the janitor on up have degrees. And, for that matter, that the janitor also be a DBA, LAN administrator, run the production webservers, code all the apps, and so forth, but that's another story. So as a potential hiree, I'd probably not make it these days without a degree.

Then again, I've never been hired through HR. They like people who fit their stereotypes and I don't.
 
Eran Morad
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@TimHolloway - Thank you for sharing your experience. I wonder why companies obsess over CS degrees these days for jobs that don't need any CS degree. Unless a job actually involves using "core" CS principles, it does not really need a CS degree IMO. If a non-cs employee encounters the rare occasion when he needs to optimize an algorithm or do CS stuff, then he can reach out to a senior employee with a CS degree.

Every guy on an army team does not need to be a medic. But, he can learn the basics of first aid to take care of injuries. He can always call a medic for more serious problems. But, always ensure that he has competent medics nearby. Otherwise, he might not be able to solve an exceptionally difficult problem.
 
Tim Holloway
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Well, in my case, I am the senior employee. Even my boss at my first-ever IT job said he never considered me as a "junior" employee.
 
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Dev. job is not only about CS degree. You can have other technical or natural science or mathematical or many other degrees and have perfect chances for IT job.
Second, it works also without degree just because many people learn IT themselves, one time started as a child like a hobby, or later after doing many IT - relevant cources on internet or even certificates.
You can become Oracle Database Developer and Java Programmer certificates even without high school graduation and this still makes sense, if you want to become IT job.
Third, I do not know, how it is in America or Asia, but in Europe there are many possibilities for young people without (or with) high school graduation, I speak about professional education, which takes normally 3 years.
I mentioned it, because you can start this education when you are 16 y.o., but also when you are 34 years. And for example, if you have already any other professional education, you can reduce it to 1-2 years.
Why I say that? Because this people may have not experience and come from low wage job and have any CS degree. They may move to USA and try to find work, they already have some certificates.
So there are so many possibilities to increase a chance of become a dev job, that I cant believe, that people without any experience or relevant education may become any dev jobs, do you believe?
Do you really think, that there are possibilities to become "dev jobs without any degree, background or aptitude"? I cant imagine, that a human, who worked as a cashier, waiter or taxi driver have any chance to become any dev job just like that.
 
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