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School vs. Experience

Joseph Martell
Expert 100+
P: 196
I am currently a programmer with 6 years of on-the-job experience, but i do not have a degree of any kind. I have taken a few courses at my local college, but that is as far as my formal education goes. I get the impression that my lack of degree will turn into a very big hindrance as I continue in my career, which leads me to my question:

Is it possible to be successful and advance as a programmer without a degree? Put another way, does experience carry as much weight in a computer science field as a degree?
Jul 27 '10 #1
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10 Replies


Meetee
Expert Mod 100+
P: 931
I completely understand your problem. Despite knowledge, skills and experience, people without degree face such struggles. I’ve seen hundreds of job postings over the past few years and one of the things I have seen most often is this: BS/MS Required, Graduate Degree Preferred.

Statistically, if you take decision of going to school now to earn a degree, by the time you graduate from college, you will retain only 10% of what you’ve learned. And in that time if you continue with actual experience, your learning curve goes upward by 50-60%.

I think, with what you have so far as a real know-how of IT, you can start your own consulting business (on a small scale in case of economic constraint). Employers ask for degree but not clients most of the time. They prefer your success ratio in past, skills and knowledge. Meanwhile you can also go for distance learning degree or part-time study option to add that feather in your resume.

Go ahead! Fortune is waiting! :)
Jul 27 '10 #2

100+
P: 115
It doesn't matter as long as you don't expect employment in the corporate sector as in to avoid litigations they come up with benchmarks before recruiting anyone. That benchmark happens to be the degree. But if you think you are up to the challenge of starting your own venture or company of your own and have the ample skills for it, you should go for it. I wish there was something Government could do to help but senator Obama's campaign promises were futile. He pledged there would be sufficient impetus on SSI and private ventures in terms of capital investment and that outsourcing would be discouraged. The taxes for the companies outsourcing jobs were hiked from 33% to 65%. But what happened? Did the outsourcing stop or mitigate? No. Did SSI at home receive any incentive? No. What I am saying is, it's bit tough out there for any start-up especially those in IT-related fields but it can be done.
Aug 8 '10 #3

Alex Papadimoulis
Expert
P: 26
The most challenging aspect of being a programmer without a degree is finding an entry-level job. Few employers are interested in hiring recent graduates because of the huge learning curve between computer science and the real world. But no degree... that's even less desirable.

However, you've managed to get six years of experience, which means you've cleared the first hurdle. It just gets easier over time. Consider a twenty-year programming vetran: do you think many care about a couple decade old piece of paper?

The things that will get you the furthest are soft skills and knowing *how* to apply the right technology.
Aug 10 '10 #4

P: 1
It always pays to have an educational degree complementing your experience. In fact, most of the times, it’s the other way round - because of your degree you might have an opportunity to get some experience! I would suggest you choose computer degree programs that equip you with latest technological advancements which cater to the industry’s competencies. During these tough economic times, computer programs should help you easily get through the crossroads. IMO…..it’s a mammoth challenge to get experience without going to school for a computer degree.
Dec 9 '10 #5

P: 2
It depends according to the recruiter whether he needs an experienced or a degree holder. But most expect a degree. According to me Knowledge is important than anything. If you have knowledge in the particular field then you are eligible for the posting.
Dec 31 '10 #6

P: 76
I only have an associates degree, my boss has a Masters and my collegue has no degree at all. Our team is brilliant however and what we may lack in a piece of paper from some overcharging institute is made up for with sheer skill and enthusiasm. That being said, there are a number of places where I think a degree does become mandatory. The #1 is any government contract usually requires that the workers have a certain level of education.

In lieu of a degree, go for certifications. You really need a piece of paper that says you know what you're doing. If you have no degree you need to get certified (even if you have a degree you need to get certified). I'm seeing a growing trend toward certifications in the software world and it proves you have more recent, up to date know-how.

I still personally plan to get my little piece of paper from a college eventually.
Mar 3 '11 #7

sandyinfinite
P: 24
I think you should go for some part-time degrees for namesake because even big IT companies like Google,Facebook etc demanding educational background.
But if your plan to setup your own business then their is no issue at all .
Mar 8 '11 #8

Alex McKim
P: 2
Go for some certifications! This would be the best alternative, and can do you a lot of good. Good luck to you!
May 17 '11 #9

P: 2
both of them is very impotant~~
Aug 18 '11 #10

P: 1
I agree with @HUSter, both of them count 4 something later on
but it would also be wise to get some qualifications too.
Mar 6 '12 #11

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