Is a College Degree Required For a Career in Computer Programming?

Part 11 of 24 in the Series: become a computer programmer
Ask a Burning Question

Ask a Burning Question

This post answers a reader’s question about the educational requirements for becoming a computer programmer.

If you have a Burning Question or a Challenge that you need help with, be sure to ask your question as a comment on this page and I will answer it fully just as I am answering the question below!

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Here is the Question:

Is a computer science college degree required for computer programmer jobs?

Here is my Answer to this reader’s question:

You are asking this question because you either don’t understand how the Information Technology (IT) Industry works or are drawing conclusions from the Medical, Legal or Financial Industry!

However, here is the answer to your question:

  1. Is a College Degree Required for a Career in Computer Programming?

    Absolutely Not! A computer science college degree is not required for a career in software development or computer programming.

    There are computer programmers without college degrees just as there are computer programmers with college degrees.

    There are computer programmers with high school diplomas as well as computer programmers with PhDs. gained from Ivy League Schools

    There are some computer programmer jobs that require college degrees and computer programmer jobs that do not require college degrees

    The rule of thumb is that if you can write good working code for real business problems then you are a computer programmer!

  2. Is a Computer Science Degree Required for a Career in Computer Programming?

    No, because computer programming jobs are based on talent and skill and not necessarily based on education. Computer programmers come from backgrounds as diverse as Arts, Music, Literature, Law, Medicine etc. If you can write good code for real world problems, you are a computer programmer regardless of your educational background

    There are computer programmers with Computer Science College Degrees who can’t or don’t code … just as there are lots of computer programmers who don’t have a computer science college degree

  3. Does It Hurt to Have a Computer Science College Degree?

    Nope, because it counts as an acheivement! You can work into an interview room and brag about your college education, etc. However, a college education is not a ticket to a computer programming career.

    If you can afford to go to college and you are young and you are not in a hurry to face the real-world … then by all means go to college and get a computer science degree!

    There are people that can’t get a programming job because they lack the self-confidence to pursue their dreams. They are always inventing reasons why they can’t go after their dreams. so, instead of just sitting down to learn programming, they invent reasons why they can’t!

    The danger for these group of people is that after spending 4 years in college, they will find another excuse for not pursuing their programming dreams like being too old to get a programming job or lack of programming jobs because of outsourcing!

  4. Is a Special Certificate or License Required for a Career In Computer Programming?

    Absolutely Not! The universal certificate or license required for a computer programming career is hands-on programming experience!

    There are some programming jobs that may require a certificate in Java or .NET or PHP … but then there are lots of programming jobs that just require that you know how to code

    The universal requirement for computer programming jobs is hands-on programming experience! Not hands-on programming experience from a college or institution … just plain, vanilla hands-on programming experience !

NOTE:

There are some computer programming jobs that require a BS in Computer Science or a Masters or even a PhD. in Computer Science.

I have also seen some software developer job postings in the New York area that require a college degee from certain prized Ivy League Schools!

However, you need to ignore these types of programmer jobs and focus on employment postings that are a better match for your specific set of programming skills :-)

Your Personal Action Plan

  1. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill. If you want to become a computer programmer then plan on investing about six months to learn computer programming and another six months on getting intense hands-on coding practice or experience.

References

I suggest that you read these articles to get additional background information:

  1. How to Become a Computer Programmer Without a College Degree

  2. How to Get Hands-On Computer Programming Experience

  3. How Effective Is Classroom Training?

This post answers a question posted by a reader. If you have a Question, Post IT as a comment on this page and I will be sure to answer it for you!




4 Discussions for “Is a College Degree Required For a Career in Computer Programming?”

  1. Deepak Khandekar

    i want to become a computer programmer.But,the problem is i don’t have any college degree.

    I quit my graduation due to some problems.so i don’t have any college degree.

    I am looking for job in IT field.But every company wants at least a college degree.

    Sir how can i get the job without a degree in IT sector.please tell me in details.

    What should i do?

    Deepak Khandekar
    Bangalore, India, Karnataka

    • Work on becoming a freelance programmer. Not having a college degree does not stop you from become a freelance programmer.

      And since you have access to the internet, you can source clients from all over the world without having to travel to their destination.

      To make this work, you will need a lot of drive / determination.

      So, instead of focusing on your lack of a college degree, focus on the goals you can achieve as a freelance programmer.

  2. alok

    I m 25 years old, i don’t have any work experience. i don’t have a college degree abut i want to be a good programmer ,what do i have to do?

    • Life Is About what You Do with What You Have … And Not About What You Don’t Have!

      If accept this statement as true, then what should you do?

      You should use what you have to get what you want!

      What does that mean?
      Right now, what you’ve got working for your is your:

      1. Interest
      2. Desire
      3. Passion

      So, you need to focus on this list of positive and let the rest of the negatives (lack of college degree, lack of work experience) take care of themselves along the way.

      What does that mean?

      You have some interest, desire and passion. Passion is one of the greatest strengths in life because anything that is worthwhile, every career, business or remarkable story is founded on passion … people like you and me who overcome incredible odds because they are passionate about what they are doing!

      But the proof of passion is action … what does that mean?

      If you are passionate or interested in something, you should be able to take the first step towards realizing your passion.

      Right now, the immediate, most important step that you can take is to learn computer programming.

      Dear Alok, focus all your energy on learning computer programming. Forget about all the negatives and all the things that you can’t do because they are merely distractions at this time, they are not yet challenges.

      If you desire to be a computer programmer … just take action and learn computer programming … remember, the proof of the pudding is in the eating!

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