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Werem

Do you need a degree on top of good experience?

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I'm 20 yrs old and I already have a full time job as a technology programmer in AAA company, I'm completely self taught and I love what I'm doing, the problem is that I just don't like college, I already tried to go to university and because I've put too much pressure on myself during high school, when I started living by myself for the first time I started partying too much, now I spend at least 8 hrs a day (usualy more) at work and when I come back I study a lot, recently I started part time college and even tho I have classes only every 2nd weekend I feel like having just 4 free days a month is not enough and my youth is just disappearing, I'm ambitious but I've never felt like a degree is rly worth it and I don't want to wake up in few years feeling like I chased career too much and I didn't have any fun time, do you think I should force myself anyway and get a degree from some private, paid university that didn't teach me anything useful or something that I wouldn't teach myself on my own, or having years of experience and huge shipped titles in my cv will be enough if I'll ever want to change job for whatever reason(current company is very very good, growing rapidly and I see myself staying there for a lot of years)

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11 minutes ago, Werem said:

I'm 20 yrs old and I already have a full time job as a technology programmer in AAA company, I'm completely self taught and I love what I'm doing, the problem is that I just don't like college, I already tried to go to university and because I've put too much pressure on myself during high school, when I started living by myself for the first time I started partying too much, now I spend at least 8 hrs a day (usualy more) at work and when I come back I study a lot, recently I started part time college and even tho I have classes only every 2nd weekend I feel like having just 4 free days a month is not enough and my youth is just disappearing, I'm ambitious but I've never felt like a degree is rly worth it and I don't want to wake up in few years feeling like I chased career too much and I didn't have any fun time, do you think I should force myself anyway and get a degree from some private, paid university that didn't teach me anything useful or something that I wouldn't teach myself on my own, or having years of experience and huge shipped titles in my cv will be enough if I'll ever want to change job for whatever reason(current company is very very good, growing rapidly and I see myself staying there for a lot of years)

Usually the cycle goes like this, the more experience you have the less important degrees become because you have a track record of success. This is still subjective to the actual position and policy set forth by the company. Some places might refuse to hire someone as a 'Director' unless they hold an MBA as an example. In your case you would have to worry about superficial HR departments and auto screening software, but usually if you're in the industry long enough future opportunities will be coming to you from your network (hopefully!).

Sadly if you're just getting started and haven't been in your field long enough, then having a degree may help you find another job if for whatever reason your current job ends, and you're unable to get placed through your network.

If you were a vet in the game industry I would say it doesn't matter, but if you're fairly new and at an entry level position then any boost will help until you build up a track record, portfolio, and supportive network. Having a degree on your CV at this stage is better than not having one because you don't have enough industry experience to supplement the requirement. I would suggest getting a degree if possible. :) 

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Just now, Rutin said:

Usually the cycle goes like this, the more experience you have the less important degrees become because you have a track record of success. This is still subjective to the actual position and policy set forth by the company. Some places might refuse to hire someone as a 'Director' unless they hold an MBA as an example. In your case you would have to worry about superficial HR departments and auto screening software, but usually if you're in the industry long enough future opportunities will be coming to you from your network (hopefully!).

Sadly if you're just getting started and haven't been in your field long enough, then having a degree may help you find another job if for whatever reason your current job ends, and you're unable to get placed through your network.

If you were a vet in the game industry I would say it doesn't matter, but if you're fairly new and at an entry level position then any boast will help until you build up a track record, portfolio, and supportive network. Having a degree on your CV at this stage is better than not having one because you don't have enough industry experience to supplement the requirement. I would suggest getting a degree if possible. :) 

The thing is that in this school getting masters degree will take me about 7 years and after 7 years I will have almost 8 years of experience and quite a trashy paper mostly earned by money, this is why I'm questioning this and I don't know if I want to lose half of my free time that I could spend with friends or teaching myself some actually relevant stuff which I would say I'm good at, also I think that if something bad would happen at my current job I would have at least a year of experience in a very known company in my country which I think should be enough to get me easily into some smaller companies

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9 minutes ago, Werem said:

The thing is that in this school getting masters degree will take me about 7 years and after 7 years I will have almost 8 years of experience and quite a trashy paper mostly earned by money, this is why I'm questioning this and I don't know if I want to lose half of my free time that I could spend with friends or teaching myself some actually relevant stuff which I would say I'm good at, also I think that if something bad would happen at my current job I would have at least a year of experience in a very known company in my country which I think should be enough to get me easily into some smaller companies

If you personally don't feel that you need the degree then it appears you've made your choice. :) 

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Just now, Rutin said:

If you personally don't feel you need the degree then it appears you've made your choice. :) 

I kinda did but I was hoping to hear something that would change my mind

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If you ever plan on emigrating, a degree may make the process easier (automatic proof of being "skilled" to governments). 

Actually being able to do the job the most important thing though. 

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3 hours ago, Werem said:

The thing is that in this school getting masters degree will take me about 7 years

You definitely don't need a masters degree. A bachelors degree (not sure if that's what it's called in the USA) will get you in the door.

As @Hodgman said, a degree is useful for emigrating, but apart from that only a few companies (notably Google) are that picky about degrees. Experience (and a portfolio/resume to go with it) is far more important. 

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In many industries people without a formal degree have a harder time finding and keeping jobs. Now you are young and nobody depends on you, and that makes the extra assurance that a degree brings somewhat unimportant. But as you age you'll find that any disadvantage becomes important.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you might choose to switch from gaming industry 20 years from now, and having a degree will help a lot in other industries.

One thing to remember: all things being equal, the person with the degree will most likely get the job, get the higher pay and get to keep the job during layoffs.

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I don't see the big deal.  I dropped out of high school and have no degree of any kind in any field.  If you have experience then you are missing a portfolio, not a degree, and certainly never ever will there ever be a need for a master's.  It's weird that you even considered it.
I have a very hard time justifying that level of education given that I've always been higher-paid than anyone in any of my previous companies who is pursuing a master's, even when they are older, but especially when I am older.  We are talking about something that put us both in the same company and yet at the same age gave me a higher salary, while giving them a higher debt with a smaller salary to use for paying it off.  Meanwhile, I'm a "senior" in the same company at the same age, simply because I relied on workplace experience to rise through the ranks.
You can see the issue here.

You may have gotten into the mindset that school is useful for preparing for your future.  You need to remember that at some point you are in your future, and school is no longer relevant.
As Hodgman mentioned, papers are needed (or useful) to live overseas, but I took a 1-year vocational course to get a simple diploma in "Computer Programmer."  Thanks to a simple diploma that I got in 1 year I have lived and worked in Thailand, France, Japan, the UK, and America.

This industry is about what you can demonstrate.  You will never need more than a portfolio and your work experience.


L. Spiro

Edited by L. Spiro

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57 minutes ago, L. Spiro said:

If you have experience then you are missing a portfolio, not a degree, and certainly never ever will there ever be a need for a master's.

From the second part of barricade - I do have master's degree (in computer graphics and image processing) from university ... still considering whether to go for PhD or not (I've finished just 2 years back or so).

In the end it is up to you, a master's degree in such area is going to take a lot of time and effort - and it's not an easy task to do (less than half dozen students finished with me that year, although hundreds started the study program). Compared to others I had huge advantage of not having to pay for university (just indirectly through taxes), and a supportive family (all of my siblings and both parents have master's degree either in informatics or pedagogy - so not going to university wasn't really an option) ... these things are also important to consider, because it will cost you.

 

Having a degree helped me a lot when starting the company, especially when getting contracts (and yes, published research is considered a big plus in your portfolio). Yet again I have majority of my work experience in research, some in actual software development (majority is actually unrelated to game industry). Although the main decision point for other businessmen is to show them portfolio - some finished products that are successful, and ability to rapid prototype what they need.

 

Last note, compared to other people here on the forum, I've never actually worked in the office in "normal day-to-day job".

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