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Is it possible to become a full time software programmer at a tech company without a college degree?

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Fred’s Answer

Of course it is. The hard part is finding and getting it. There are probably a lot of ways to get in, but a few I can think of are:

1) develop a portfolio of things you can show off. Work on an open source project, or develop your own website.
2) Edge your way in. Maybe apply as a tester or trainer first. Get hired by the company, and then work towards getting a new position. This can take a while. You don't want to start trying to get out of a position the day you start it...You'd want to stay in that first position a year or two at least, learning everything you can about the products, the company, the teams, etc.
3) take CS classes at a community college or such. You're not in a formal degree program, so it's a little easier and you can focus on what you want (CS and Math), not all the core classes (English, history, etc)

At an interview, you need to sell why you are the right person for the job even without a degree - show that you have the basic skills needed, and have the right personality fit for the team.
You can also do self-paced online computer software engineering program like https://launchschool.com/. This is much easier (in terms of scheduling, cost...etc) than taking CS classes at a college. They are not a bootcamp. They focus on mastery based learning which many of the bootcamps fail to do. Also, they have a Capstone program that helps with launching your career. Svetlana Brennan
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Sunita’s Answer

In addition to above
- When you start learning how to code update your github profile regularly. That is a very good way to back up your claims with actual proof
- There are a lot of bootcamp programs as well that have connections with company and facilitate hiring
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Naomi’s Answer

Many companies offer early career programs for both certificate holders in addition to college degrees. If you are not looking to get a college degree right now, look at various certificates that you can obtain to add to your resume and application.
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Tobin’s Answer

Yes and no really. Yes it is possible but mostly for those who seem to pick up programming naturally. When I'm hiring programmers, I'm looking for their ability to solve programming problems as well as their knowledge of certain areas of programming. It doesn't matter to me if they have a degree or even any certificates really. The degree and certificates help though because many places will put up gates and simply not consider candidates without them. Some companies (small companies and startups) will often make you prove your worth with tests or assignments prior to hiring you. A game company made me write the game of defender using no 3rd party libraries for example before they would hire me. On the flip side, I've known people to get their degree and still have trouble finding that first job.

So, the short answer is to know yourself and how hard you are willing to prove yourself. If you already program better than all of your friends and are willing to fight to get that first job then you really don't need a degree.

Tobin recommends the following next steps:

If you haven't already, start programming on your own. Read books, make up projects that interest you and code them up. Keep them around to show to future employers.
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Rebecca’s Answer

On one hand, I am delighted that you are interested on coding. On the other hand, I have the concern that you would like to be a programmer without entering the college. I would not say that it is impossible. It is more subject to any Tech Company would give you the offer. What is the reason you decide not to enter the college? Is it financial problem? Have you discussed with your parents?
Firstly, you could learn more fundamentals of computer science, e.g. computing theory, etc. You would have more exposure on different programming languages, platforms, etc. It would help you to develop your career in Tech field in the future.
Alternatively, would you consider to attend the Tech classes on part time basis or online. It would be helpful to your career development and increase the opportunities that Tech companies to give you an offer.
Hope this helps! Good Luck!
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Deron’s Answer

As mentioned by Naomi, Certifications in the respective field of interest will definitely put you in a great position in any company looking for a knowledgeable professional for the job.
The benefit of certs is that in order to gain that, you had to put in some sort of learning, studying, practice and show proof of your knowledge. Many companies put Certifications ahead of degrees.
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AMJAD’s Answer

It's better to have a B.S. degree in the Computer Science/IT space. Work experience also matters and can compensate in some cases. The main thing is to have the proper certification and to demonstrate the ability to do the job. More importantly is to have the desire to always learn to grow knowledge and skillset.
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Pawel’s Answer

Sunita's right about bootcamps, but be careful with these - some of them offer poor classes and don't guarantee anything except from a worthless certificate. The only real way of learning programming is to write your own code, so you can participate in one of many open source projects and gain the experience this way. Github portfolio is also important.
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Nithin’s Answer

Hi Ramiro,

Yes you definitely can become a great full time software engineer without a college degree, You just need to find an Employer who values skills over a degree. Currently there are many such companies like Google Inc, Tesla etc. In order for this to happen just pick a specific domain and start working towards it. Do some certifications and required trainings which will fetch you the desired job. This is called portfolio building.

All the best and Happy learning.
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Dahlia’s Answer

It's most definitely possible and I have taken this route. Start by figuring out if coding excites you by taking online free courses such as code academy or free udemy coding courses. If you like formal studying structure and a network to apply for jobs later on then consider taking a bootcamp. An intro bootcamp (1 month) course would be helpful in determining if the longer bootcamp courses (3 - 9 months) are well worth it for you. Getting through the bootcamp courses is only just the beginning, then the real work/fun begins. A good resource on all things bootcamp related can be found here: https://www.computerscience.org/bootcamps/rankings/best-coding-bootcamps/
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Amey’s Answer

Definitely it is. If you have the right attitude then you can certainly enter this world. You need to think like computer so that you can talk to computer by writing software program. To testify this, many online quizzes are there. You can also focus on getting certification on some of the basic computer language first and later in one popular programming language. By taking this step-by-step approach, you can come to know whether you are a fit or not. If not then certainly a formulated way of education in terms of college degree is needed to make your basics right. If it is a fit then nothing can stop you and sky is the limit for you.
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Anand’s Answer

Yes you can. There are start ups, where they expect talent and not just degree papers. You may showcase your projects/assignments done even there is no college degrees.
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Rob’s Answer

SHORT ANSWER: Yes, absolutely! But be prepared to have more challenges along the way.

LONGER ANSWER: While you *can* find work in software engineering without a college degree (I've worked with a couple), there are plenty of places where it will be a significant challenge to get your foot in the door without one. That being said, there are plenty of places that will hire software engineers without degrees ... but be advised that these places might ALSO be predatory/toxic workplaces that aren't offering competitive market rates. (If you have the stomach for one of those, it *can* be a way to bootstrap your way into the field ... but they might also burn you out -- and that would be way worse!)

If college is an option for you, I would encourage you to consider it. You don't need a graduate degree in Computer Science to be successful, but even a 2 year technical program can expose you to some ideas and methods you wouldn't see otherwise -- *and* I can't stress enough how important it is to have mentors early in your career, as well as learning teamsmanship and different collaboration styles.

NOT having a college degree doesn't box you out of the profession, just like a degree doesn't guarantee that you'll land a role with a good company, either.

Also -- I'd like to echo what was called out in some of these answers -- you can also "foot-in-the-door" at a tech company through another role. I started in Technical Support at my first tech company and parleyed that into a couple other roles before finally convincing them to "let me" move into a Software Engineering role with them. Don't be afraid to look for those stepping stones, too!
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Jorge’s Answer

Hola Ramiro

It is possible, since in the software industry we need many people who are passionate about technology, but as many others mentioned in this post it is important that you look for companies that privilege skills over academic degrees.

The fact that you don't want to go to a formal school does not limit the fact that you should learn on your own, nowadays there are many platforms for self-learning and personally I privilege in my work team someone who always wants to learn over someone who doesn't.

You can look near your area for a Hackaton event (these are events where people who love technology participate in challenges to solve problems using technology in short periods of time) and it would be useful for you to test the skills you have been learning both technical and soft skills.
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