Computer programming is one of the most coveted careers in this technology-driven world today. As a result, many tech enthusiasts discover an irresistible urge to work in this fascinating and dynamic field. If you’re one of them, you may be wondering if you need a degree to become a computer programmer.
Do You Need a Degree to Become a Computer Programmer? Although having a degree in computer science or a related subject will certainly give you an advantage while searching for employment, you can become a computer programmer through other learning systems. It all depends on the type of computer programming you’ll focus on.
For instance, if you want to be a freelance web developer, you might not need formal training since you can get desirable referrals and testimonials that tell that you know your stuff. But it won’t be the same for all computer programming jobs. In this article, you will learn what is needed to get a job in this field – and whether or not you need a degree.
The Education You Need To Become A Computer Programmer
To become a computer programmer, you at least need some education to back up your skills. It can be self-taught or learned from a program.
#1 Self-Taught Programming Plus High School Degree
You might know a computer programmer who doesn’t even have a high school diploma, but situations like that are very rare in the realm of technological careers.
If you simply got a high school degree, took courses, and learned how to program, you can get a job if you pitch decently. However, you may find that your first job involves you proving that you can do the work. Therefore, don’t expect high payments or an exclusive title for that matter.
After your first job, you can scale higher as your track record and experience in the professional world speaks for itself.
Freelance game developers are an example of computer programmers who can become highly successful regardless of their educational background. However, others like software quality controllers are hired formally and would mostly require official certifications.
Without any certifications, finding a computer programming job is going to be a challenging journey. However, after some years of experience with complimentary referrals, you can get higher-paying jobs and opportunities to increase your education.
With a high school degree:
- You can learn from Udemy courses or places like the Free Code Camp.
- You can read books like The Complete Software Developer’s Career Guide to create an efficient studying system and also learn to program using book sets like this Programming: 3 Books in 1 Boxset by Joseph Mining.
- Also, you can take some community college courses and equip yourself with basic programming skills.
#2 Boot Camps Plus High School Or College Degree
You have probably heard of coding boot camps since they’re trendy these days. Whether you have a high school diploma, a college degree, or otherwise, boot camps offer a thorough system that can get you ready for the programming world.
Bootcamps offer short, detailed, rigorous training that can turn a beginner into a professional in as little as three months. Unfortunately, if you are a slower learner, boot camps are not a good match for you.
Most employers hire boot camp graduates who can adapt to their system and culture. However, the first jobs are often as junior programmers or something probationary. This shouldn’t scare you, though. If you continue to learn and improve your skills, you can easily get promoted.
So, if you want to follow the boot camp path to computer programming, be prepared to prove yourself in your first gigs. Your career depends on it. When you think about it, using the boot camp method is much like being self-taught but much more intense.
#3 Computer Science Degree Or Similar
This is one of the most straightforward paths to a computer programming career. If you want to be a doctor, you go to medical school. If you want to be a computer programmer, you get a computer science degree.
See, a computer science degree, information systems degree, or anything similar would give you a better chance of employment in the technology field. Many Silicon Valley companies usually hire someone with at least a computer degree or with ample programming experience.
However, there’s more to it than the average person knows.
Computer programmers need to have a mindset focused on always learning new things. Technology trends are ever-changing, and a computer science degree won’t be enough to help you develop in this competitive field.
This doesn’t mean that all the years you spent to acquire that degree are not worth it. A degree equips you with the general knowledge that you can use to fit into many technology fields while you find a specialty.
#4 College Degree Unrelated To Computer Programming
Career Advice Online states that an average person will change careers around six times during their lifetime. This means you may have a commerce degree, but, somewhere down the line, choose to become a computer programmer.
If you integrate computer programming skills into the field you’re working in, chances are, you’ll be paid and valued more in your workplace.
So, think about it: Is there a way you can use your current skills plus computer programming to acquire a better job? As you advance your programming skills, people will start identifying you as a computer programmer.
Which Computer Programming Learning Route Is The Best?
Some people will tell you that a degree is tremendously important, and you’ll believe them. However, you’ll find that others disagree and instead tell you that whatever you learn is what matters most. It can really get confusing.
But it all boils down to this: Whatever you decide should be the best for you according to the circumstances you’re in is the path you should take.
If you’re tight on money but desperately need to learn to program, go for the informal routes like boot camps and self-teaching. If you put in your all and strive to get the first job, you can work your way up from there.
However, if you’d like the college experience while learning something you love, a degree might be your best option. Don’t become comfortable and only follow the curriculum though – stay up to date!
If you have to keep your current job while you learn, an online degree from a reputable institution can work for you. Capella University offers online degrees in IT that are widely accepted by employers.
How To Become A Programmer: The Main Steps
The following are a few steps that you should follow to become a computer programmer:
- Identify the type of programmer you want to be.
- Research the possible routes that are aligned with your career goals.
- Acquire the relevant skills and obtain some certifications.
- Search for a job to gain valuable experience.
- Continue learning while stacking up experience to develop your career.
- Never stop “becoming” a computer programmer — it’s a continuous journey.
Dan Luu, a successful software engineer with a history in hardware engineering, states: “I’ve found that the paths that people take to get into programming are much more varied than stereotypes give credit for, and I think it’s useful to see that there are many possible paths into programming.”
There’s no cookie-cutter approach to a computer programming career. This is one of the most flexible fields where one can be successful as long as they are providing value to the market.
If becoming a computer programmer is what you genuinely want to do, step back and ponder the information above. Weigh your options and choose what might work for you. It may be a long journey, but you can pull it off.
So, do you need a degree to become a computer programmer? Definitely not. All you need is the necessary skills and professional experience that can keep your career going.