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Huffer

No degree: possible to get a job?

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Hello, If I have no degree in CS or any kind of IT degree for that matter, is it, hypothetically, possible to get an IT job provided I have all the necessary knowledge? I'm not talking about any particular kind of job or any particular country, just in theory is it possible? So if I learn everything by myself, create a few freeware projects etc. and then apply, pass a test or something, will I be hired? Thanks!

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You're gonna have to be able to show them something revolutionary in your initial application to even get them to keep reading past your education credentials..

It is a shame really, I know plenty of bright guys who can rig a pc out of a paperclip and some duct tape :\. Well, not really, but you get my point.

Generally, if they see a null pointer for education history they throw the application out the door, forgive the bad pun.

But, getting to speak with them in person, for some strange stroke of faith, is a different story, you could show them something neat then...

My 2 cents, take it for what its worth :).

Really it is just me trying to justify spending 25,000 dollars for college :).

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Probably depends on the company, although from what I've heard from other GD members (some of which who actually hire people for their respective companies) a degree is generally wanted.

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Oh, by the way, what about applications (not games)? Is it as strict?

Basically, my point is simple. I wanna programm as a hobby. You know, maybe writing applications, maybe little games, stuff like that. Then maybe, if everything goes well, people will like some of my projects. I mean, I'm content with it being a hobby but if I get good at it, won't it be enough to get a job?

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I will soon have a degree, and because my marks are not too good, my employment prospects don't look that great, either.

It's very competitive, I guess. If you've done anything really significant you'll be able to get a job. Contributing to Free Software projects might be a good idea.

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Quote:
Original post by Huffer
Oh, by the way, what about applications (not games)? Is it as strict?

Basically, my point is simple. I wanna programm as a hobby. You know, maybe writing applications, maybe little games, stuff like that. Then maybe, if everything goes well, people will like some of my projects. I mean, I'm content with it being a hobby but if I get good at it, won't it be enough to get a job?


As I advocate on this board since 2 years, writing application is as hard as writing games. As a consequence, you'd better have a degree.

Some very talented people are spotted before they get a degree - this is rare, and most of the time the company who hire them pays their degree.

Regards,

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The most important thing you can do while in college is to take up the internship opportunities. I'm not so certain how many internships are offered to non-college students but I know if you are in college they are practically thrown at you. Good grades in school helps, but if you can show experience in a professional world and have the recommendations to back it up then you will have a much better chance at getting a job.

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It's very possible to get an IT job without a degree. Getting a job without a degree comes down to two things:

1. Who you know
2. Your ability to perform

If you're not connected with anyone in your local industry, you will have a very hard time getting a job. No one at an IT firm is going to take your word that you can handle the job. You either have to know someone in the company that can vouch for you, or have something to show them that demonstrates your ability.

It's hard without a degree but honestly, it's not easy with one either. If it's something you want to do I recommend getting active in the industry by attending conferences, events, camps, meetups, etc. in your area. Also you could get established in a company and then try to migrate over to IT after you've shown yourself valuable. IMO, that is the best route to take especially if you don't have a degree.

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You might consider Microsoft certifications. It's no college degree, but a recruiter is much less likely to get fired for hiring you if you have a few relevant certifications, and they're pretty cheap.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I'm a highschool dropout. I'm also a Senior Programmer in the games industry. So, Yes, It is possible. You need to have brains, and dedication in order to get there, though.

I didn't start out in the games industry. I started out doing systems admin/applications programming work for REALLY cheap. ($6.25 an hour was what I made my first programming job 10 years ago). The first job you get, without a degree, will probably be at a reduced wage like this. You work at the low rate, and get some experience under your belt (1 or 2 years). You then have leverage to get a new job at a higher rate, with more responsibility.

Start to develop a specialty (Mine is network programming). Use that specialty to propel you further, and use it to secure better wages at your next job.

After 5 years of this process, I applied for a network programmer position at one of the largest game publishers in the world, and due to my expertise, I was hired.

It's been 5 years since I started in the games industry, and I make a 6 figure salary, and have been credited on a few multi-million selling games. I have done work in game physics, UI, general game logic, And of course - networking ;). Every day I learn more, and every day I become more valuable due to the new skills I aquire.

So good luck! It's a long road, but with dedication, you can make it.

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you should get your degree.
you will get paid more in general.
but dunno if it's going to be worth the college tuition and the time spent in school.

some say certificates actually prove more than the degrees.
but most professors tell me that the degree is much more helpful.
idk, but in my opinion, if you have the degree and the certificates,
it's better than nothing.

again, boils down to: is it worth the tuition and the time.

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Guys, the reason I ask this is precisely because I can't currently, well, get into college, as you call it. I don't mean "I can't", rather it ain't possible at the moment. And I ain't really upset about it either. It's not the problem. I'm getting into a different, totally programming-unrelated college (mind you, IF I get there, it's so damn hard in my country (not Phillippines :)...)

I was just curious that if I spend years learning and programming as a hobby, will this experience and knowledge be enough to replace a degree. That's all. It's not my goal right now nor do I have any particular intentions. Was just curious.

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IMHO I don't think degrees and certificates ultimately matter once you reach a certain point of knowedge. If you can make any program you can think of, and if you show them a colorful portfolio, I would definately hire you as long as you have good work ethics. Again, if I was the hacker, I would rather setup my own company and sell my own software if I was at that level.

and i don't think school can teach you that much knowedge anyhow. (but it's safer to have a degree than rather not)

I think school is more like a day care center, where the teachers spoon feed you the information. and I don't see the point of lectures b/c most CS concepts are extremely hard to communicate about to begin with. The students just need to stare at a particular problem until he gets it. Read da variety of books, and maybe have some discussion groups.

Anyhow, IMO i think people who enjoy CS takes CS majors as a backup kind of thing. the main thing is taught in his spare time b/c look at all the great hackers. Yea right. I'm sure they learned their stuff in school [roll eyes]. I took 1 CS course, and it involved no programming concepts. As a matter of fact it was this dumb logic class. Yet, I think I'm still computer literate. For example, a junior CS major's project is to develop a 2000 line program. Urm... I've already done that on my spare time, without any schooling.

and if I don't graduate and somebody does not hire me just b/c I don't have a degree. and let's say, he hired somebody who is not more knowedgable than I, then that company has just made a dumb decision by hiring someone who is dumb but with a degree. but I'm sure not all managers are dumb like that. But big scaled companies like Verizon, I believe mostly hire ppl with degrees though.







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I stopped listing my accredited education on my resume long ago. This has nothing to do with the fact that it took me 4 years to finish high school, I never did get any of the required math or physics classes, and that I had decided to stop there due to lack of funding (and mental stability).

It is of relatively no value to any (seasoned) employer to know whether one has a Bachelor degree in Computer Science or not.

That is, if they are seasoned enough, they should already know that a BSc means only that you are well-off (or worse-off enough to be considered for student loans), and not that you are guaranteed to be proficient, resourceful, or an abstract thinker.

The very fact that I was tutoring 4th year students when I was 19 years old goes to show that if you simply prove on your resume that you possess the mastery of the key principles taught during a BSc, it does not matter one iota if you taught yourself or not.

In fact, I am writing my MSc thesis in an effort to challenge the system. If I can't, so be it, but it won't stop me from obtaining work in my field. It just means that I have to strive to look for employers who are pragmatic about how ineffective the North American undergraduate education system really is.

I hate to sound so blunt (and most definitely like a braggart), but it's absolutely true. This is the Information Age, and those who can't do it on their own will most certainly be left in the dust.

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In my experience degrees are more and more necessary for new entries into the CS job market. I'm at a big game studio and lots of the "old timers" do not have college degrees. However, there have been zero new hires in the last 3 years of people without college degrees. Other "old timers" transfer in and out all the time because they have an impressive resume to vouch for their skill. Coming fresh out of high school now and trying to get a CS job with no college education is almost impossible. It's a relatively competitive market for people with no experience so companies can be extremely selective. With no degree and no professional experience your resume wouldn't even make it off of HR's desk for anyone in the company to see.

The only way I think you could get an engineering job without a degree is to have a couple really good friends at the company to which you are applying that can get you're foot in the door. You'll need tons of application demos.

IMHO you should get a degree. Your salary will be initially higher and it'll be easier for you to get a job.

-me

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There is quite a bit of difference between IT and software engineering. You generally don't need a college degree to do sysadmin, technical support, or similar actual IT work. There's not really any [meaningful] degree program that teaches these things anyways. I've found you'll still need the degree to advance to any sort of supervisory position though.

Software engineering is a different matter. Learning proper theory and algorithm knowledge isn't generally something you can just 'pick up'. Computer Science education tends to be directly on topic for this sort of job, so it's a bit more expected.

As always though, getting hired often depends more on who you know than what you know. Not having a degree just makes it even that more important.

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It depends. Do you have experience? I am going to say because you are asking this, that you don't :)

Then yah, it's going to be tough to find anything. You will have to beg, borrow and steal your way to your first few years of experience. If you get a position, work your tail off. Go above and beyond, work crappy hours, do what you have to do.

Once you get five years or so experience under your belt, it will lighten up a little and you can be more job selective.

This isn't conjecture, I know this, because I did this. No degree, but I am now a senior C++ engineer at a nice up and coming company. I make a good salary, live a comfotable life. I don't have to push as hard now (though I do when I need to). It took time and hardwork, but yes it can be done.

Now, if you have the option...get your degree! It's useless after five or ten years, when your experience is what an employer hires you for....but it's damn helpful getting your foot in the door.

As a side note, the importance of a degree in software engineering is really dependant on the field. If you're doing general enterprise style development, or database driven development (like me), it's not as important. If you want a career writing genetics research software, you might want a degeee :)

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