Buster2000, on 26 Apr 2013 - 16:43, said:
Yes you need a degree.
There are some very talented excptions to the rule that get buy without a degree and everytime somebody poses one of these "do I need a degree?" threads there is always some idiot who says something along the lines of "Well John Carmack doesn't have one". But he is just one person whilst there are several hundred other developers who all have degrees.
I am going to pick on this post for the sake of brevity but I have to disagree with every answer so far, but mainly based on either a poor choice of words or a lack of a very very important set of words.
Firstly though, I will say flat-out that you don’t need a degree. And I am not saying this because John Carmack doesn’t have one, I am saying it because I don’t have one. I dropped out of high school yet it was easy to get the first job for which I ever applied, which was overseas, while having no prior work experience. Since then I have had no problems getting jobs and have traveled around the world making video games, ending up in my favorite city, Tokyo, with a very nice job in a very nice company.
I must be one of those who tries to make a rare case seem plausible for anyone, right?
Wrong. For whatever reason I can’t fathom, no one has mentioned that other piece of paper you can get called a “diploma”.
Do you need a degree? Absolutely not.
Do you need a degree or a diploma? Absolutely yes. I could not possibly be where I am without my diploma (literally, you need one or the other to work overseas legally).
So, if we go back and in each reply replace “degree” with “degree or diploma,” then I would largely agree with what has been said.
But that opens a whole new world of options which gives me a whole lot of fresh things to say that haven’t been said.
Firstly, getting a job as fast as you can is important since work experience is more valuable than papers. Spending 4 years in a school before getting a job means your starting salary will be the same either way, but you will be 4 years older.
If you are looking for an entry position at a big name such as Google, a degree would be better. But there is no reason to try to get your start at such a big company.
It would overall be better to go to a 1- or 2- year vocational college and get a diploma in computer programming (just for the sake of having papers, and since it is only 1 or 2 years you can deal with it better) and present that to a smaller company, along with your portfolio, and start working sooner rather than later. The 3 or 2 years of work experience is more valuable on paper than those same years at a university, and that just adds to your strong portfolio, which you can always keep enhancing in your spare time. You will be generating income 3 or 2 years sooner as well.
This is what I did and I am not an exceptional case. You started younger than I did and you may have a stronger portfolio than I did when I first got hired, which makes this route extremely plausible for you, especially if you don’t try to work overseas from the start (I may have gotten lucky on that part).
My advice: Don’t skip school but don’t spend too much time on it. Get a diploma from a 1- or 2- year vocational college and get into the field as soon as you can. Getting in makes it fairly easy to stay in (though some seem to want to leave fairly soon afterwards).