You’re not like other programmers.
You haven’t attended a four-year university and don’t have a computer science degree to prove you know the fundamentals of programming.
You think you don’t stack up in comparison to those programmers who do have a degree in computer science.
But—plenty of great programmers have developer jobs without attending a single class. Yet too often these days, entry-level jobs require some sort of degree or at the very least a coding boot camp of sorts.
Luckily, there is a way around this conundrum. And this post will show you how to do so.
You’ll learn how to show you have the programming chops—without pointing to a college degree—with five essential tips. You’ll learn how to take this experience and show in your application how programming is your passion. And, you’ll get a list of ten different tech jobs to apply to that don’t require a degree.
Ready to start the process and build confidence in your programming abilities to land a job without a degree? Let’s do it.
Set the Record Straight
You should know—the answer to whether you can get a job in tech without a degree comes down to the job you’re applying for. There are typically three possibilities to look out for when applying for any job in development:
A degree is required (computer science)
A degree is a plus but not required
A degree is not a requirement
If a job requires you to have a degree, then there isn’t much you can do about it. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t jobs out there to apply to where a degree isn’t required.
Case in point: Stack Overflow had a recent study where they analyzed 4,500 job listings to see if degrees were required for dev jobs. 61 percent of the jobs did not specify having a degree, while only 39 percent did list a degree in the job posting. Bottom line—jobs are out there for those who don’t have a degree but still want to be a developer.
The question still remains—for those 61 percent who had jobs but no degree—how did you get hired? How do you prove to a company you’re not a risk but an asset to their team?
You have to show the company what you’ve done. According to Magdalena Zurawska, HR Recruiter who specializes in tech hiring at ResumeLab, candidates who show a portfolio of projects and products where they have contributed to more heavily “will get hired over those who come in and show off their computer science degrees or six-month internships. We need to see real, tangible results from candidates.”
So, how do you go about showing off your programming or development chops? What steps can you take to ensure your profile as a job candidate is oozing with hireability? Let’s dive into it in the next section.
4 Ways To Supercharge Your Dev Job Profile
According to Stack Overflow’s recent developer survey, 69 percent of respondents were self-taught when it came to their programming skills.
So, you don’t need to attend a college to actually code. You simply learn on the go. But—showing your skills is an entirely different story when it comes to your job profile. You need to wow recruiters with tangible results. Let’s see what areas you can work on.
Brand yourself as a developer
The first step for any developer is to have a personal website that showcases your skills and talents. It’s the first basic step for any emerging programmer. Set up a server, buy your domain, and make sure the website is well organized so recruiters can find your work in seconds.
If you’re looking to go into front-end development with a focus on design, then make sure you have as a professionally-looking designed website as possible. You won’t wow recruiters with your skills if your website leaves sore eyes. Link to a repository on Github to show how you made these designs as well.
Don’t have too much programming experience to show? Set up a blog to package yourself and write about what you’ve learned. It will show the recruiter the development path you’ve taken and how you’re engrossed in learning more about the tech world.
Contribute to open source for networking purposes
Don’t have much experience but want to start working on a project with others? Go to Github, find a project you’re excited about, and start doing it ASAP. The more projects you’re part of, the better.
Remember—you know how to code but you need to show the recruiter. And, truth be told, you have to go the extra mile showing this because you don’t have a degree. Open source lets you demonstrate this.
Here’s another hint—try to find active projects where companies you want to work for are doing something similar. This would give you an introduction to those programmers and allows you to bounce ideas off of them. Plus, it could lead to them handing in your resume to HR at their companies!
Build, build, build
Don’t just contribute to projects—start your own. But make sure they aren’t projects that will simply collect dust. The aim should be to contribute to something other developers use so that they start downloading and using it. You want your project to impress and what better way than making the job easier for other developers and filling some crucial void in their processes.
Be careful though—the employer will read the details of your project’s source code. It’ll be a make or break moment so make sure yours is pitch-perfect. Don’t use boilerplate code but build it on your own. Put context in the project and describe what you’re doing. No copy and paste—make your code consistent and clean.
Attend a coding boot camp
The first three aspects of a dev job profile listed above will be labor-intensive. It’ll take you a ton of time. It will certainly make you a more well-rounded programmer and your hireability will skyrocket. But maybe you don’t have the time. What’s your next best option?
Attend a coding boot camp. Choose between online coding boot camp, part-time coding boot camps, or full immersion boot camps. Some can last as long as 80 hours per week but you’ll gain many skills in a short period of time.
Here are three coding boot camp categories to consider:
Whether you choose the coding boot camp option or the more labor-intensive self-taught way, these four steps are essential in proving your programming abilities for landing a job in dev without a degree.
There is, however, one more route you can take. It’s about the type of job you can get that doesn’t normally require a degree. Let’s break this down in the next question.
7 Tech Jobs To Help Transition You To a Programming Role
Rather than land your first programming gig off the bat, there is another route you can take—it’s immediate and lands you a job right away.
Get a non-programming job where you transition into programming. You put in the work and wait for a position to open up where you devote your time solely to programming. In the meantime, you gain the trust of your managers and continue to learn more about programming.
Here are some jobs for you to consider:
Technical Support ($40,250)
You’ll need to know a great deal about technology in order to become a good technical support person. You could even apply to places like Github to get yourself as involved in programming as possible.
Technical Recruiter ($45,064)
You know people in IT and know who fits best on an IT team. Coding isn’t needed but your skills help you choose those employees who are needed for highly specialized roles.
Data Analyst ($52,981)
It’s an entry-level position where you can put your analytical skills to good use. Go the extra mile and use coding to automate data-entry to really showcase your value.
Software Quality Tester ($53,646)
Rather than fix, you’re trying to break in this position. You’ll be in the customer hot spot where you’re tasked with breaking the software to find some problems. What better way to transition into a coding position when you know what problems are likely to come up.
Web Analytics Specialist ($62,464)
Want to know why a website is trending downwards or upwards? Your analytical skills will be put to the test in order to make recommendations for process improvements.
User Experience Designer ($72,780)
You know what makes a terrible user interface. You know how to make it better, and you’ll do exactly this in such a position. You’re focused on research but you’ll put to good use effective ways to structure content on a site or an app.
Growth Hacker ($74,369)
This cross-functional role lets you work with marketing, sales, engineers, and the product team. You’ll find creative ways to shift your company’s key performance indicators.
Getting a job in dev without a degree might feel like you’re walking a tightrope blindfolded.
It’s a difficult task, but it’s not impossible. Most programmers don’t have a college degree and many are self-taught.
If you follow the ways provided above to supercharge your profile as a job candidate, then you’re on the right track. But if you’re looking for a more immediate route, then try to get a transitioning role at a company where you’ll be able to land a programming role in the future.
The takeaway point: if you’re passionate about programming, not having a degree won’t stop you from achieving the most successful career in dev possible.