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Is getting a CS degree only way to get Software engineering job?
13 points by jackallis 7 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 29 comments
i guess i would like to meet these mythical self taught software engineers.





I just commented this on another thread, but it's also relevant here:

As someone who entered the field with a non-CS degree, I can tell you about my own experience. I graduated with a degree in physics without any programming experience and now work at one of the big tech companies. If I had to do it again with programming in mind, I would absolutely take computer science in school and do as many internships as I could to gain work experience.

With a STEM non-CS degree it was an uphill battle for years, and it would have been even more so without a degree at all. There's a huge amount of luck involved, and I spent a lot of time working outside of my day job to build skills and a portfolio to get my first real programming job at a startup.

I also never want any additional reason for a potential employer to pass on my resume, and not having a CS degree is potentially one of them. I have been able to offset this with the classes I've since taken and fortunately the name recognition of my current company, but it would have been nice to have had it from the start.


There isn't even a ton of Computer Science in most low-mid level programming jobs. Having the luxury of getting a CS degree is an amazing thing, but I've always had trouble with hiring fresh CS grads. The facts on the ground are that you need to write code, every day.

While this job does provide a lot of upward mobility in our current culture, I will also say that it's not a job for everyone like some recent loud groups will say. It sucks and is really hard and to be really good you have to be able to not care about that enough for the days when you really really do something great.

If you can get a CS degree without going into unreasonable debt, do it. Especially if your real goal is something like becoming the next Robert Moog. Weather you do or don't though, you should probably be writing code today and tomorrow.


I'm a non-CS grad, but have been programming almost daily since I was 11 (so about 20 years). I'm more or less self taught and I now run a tech company, with around 50 tech staff, most of them coders.

When I hire someone, I pretty much ignore their degree. Why? Because I've seen CS grads who don't know how to program very well at all, and I've seen English grads that are programming gods.

I think it comes down to passion. If you see programming as just a job, you'll have a hard time self teaching it to yourself. If you see it as a pleasure, an art form, the learning will happen without you even realising it!

Words of wisdom from someone in my team: programming is infinitely more fun when the pressure is off.


Nope, although I'd say that a STEM degree does help.

My observation is that around half the people I've worked with in this industry have a CS degree, and most of the rest have an engineering/maths/physics degree. There are a few people who don't have typical qualifications (myself included) or no degree at all, but as a general rule I would say it's less common.

If you don't have a degree, it doesn't matter - but you will still need to demonstrate that you can do the work. Having 1-2 substantial Github projects in your portfolio is a good way of achieving this, along with studying online courses such as CS50 so that you know basic data structures/algorithms.


Not necessary but you’ll have to bust your ass to get the equivalent experience.

You would like to meet them? Go to a university, stand in front of them and ask to business student "who of you creates websites and programs in JavaScript?" if one or more hand(s) goes up, boom, found them.

No, and it isn't a binary choice of self-taught vs 4 year CS degree. Check out https://lambdaschool.com/

I cannot thank you enough for introducing Lambda School to me.

Nevermind; International students can't get the same offer to pay off the tuition after getting a job.


Co-founder of Lambda School here. We’re opening up new countries/regions very rapidly. EU launches in Jan, a new area every 3-6 months after that, so hold tight.

Not since the “great H1-B famine of 2018”. I work for one of the larger accounting / consulting firms. We are rolling a program out next year to hire directly out of high school (!). They are going to take care of the whole training pipeline themselves. Apparently they modeled it after what Nucor Steel does: http://www.nucor.com/careers/training/technical-academy/

oh wow this is going to create a whole lot of "people who can't do anything else& think in very particular ways"

What makes you think that? I don’t think a college degree is strictly necessary to be an intelligent person.

your education influences how you think. universities and colleges invariably have political stances and the provision to learn the good/bad of the same. i shudder to think what a company will do to kids straight out of highschool with the same amount of time

unions bad! does work life balance really matter? are conservative ideologies really better fundamentally? these are viewpoints you can EASILY inculcate in a teenager given the right amount of motivation(responsibilities,perks,money,being treated as an adult etc etc)

i can't see how a company would NOT abuse this. it's a golden opportunity to create drones that work perfectly ONLY in your culture


This. Thank you for putting my vague thoughts into words.

Teenagers deserve time to think about stuff and to adults.


No, but many hundreds/thousands of hours programming are necessary. School is a great way to get that, but certainly not the only way. If you're willing/able to get started (by completing a Python for Beginners course or equivalent), then learn a stack and keep making things that challenge you, and are disciplined about filling in the knowledge gaps (algorithms are a gatekeeper skill), it's very doable. It just takes patience, discipline, and legitimate interest over a long period of time.

I wouldn't argue that school gives you programming experience. I've had maybe 5 programming-heavy courses where I learned a lot. That's what, 1 semester? Personally, all the actual programming skill I have is from weekends and summers, and sometimes from skipping lectures to work on side projects.

All the material I've been through has been shallower and less useful than what I could have found online or in a book.


Well yes, the degree is purposely inefficient (to extract money) but it is the only game in town due to accreditation that is controlled by the self-interested schools that are already accredited. Basically, you're dealing with a cartel.

This has been my experience as well.

No it's not! But it's a way to get a well paid job right out of university.

If you don't have a degree, you'll struggle for sometime while you build enough contacts in the industry where the degree stop mattering and references get you through the door without even an interview.

You simply have to lot better to get any recognization in the industy but in networking skills and technical experience.

I am a self taught drop out who never sat through an interview, worked in 5 companies. Now i am a CTO of one startup.


I don't have a CS or engineering degree but I've been working as a developer for over a year. My advice is to have a good portfolio of projects that you can use to showcase what you can do.

I had major imposter syndrome in the beginning but now I'm a key contributor to the product. You learn a ton on the job so it's important to apply for one before you feel completely 'ready'


I have a Comp sci. degree which opened doors to big firms, specifically it meant my CV didn't automatically get binned by recruitment agencies.

But if you have the experience and some kind of portfolio to show it off, especially in web and mobile development, you can get jobs without a degree. These technologies are still changing faster than colleges can track.


No, but I would recommend it. I am a business major and cs minor. Probably should have double majored, I would have gotten to where I am now much more quickly. We have college drop outs and maybe even a high school drop out at work. They fight an uphill battle, but it can be done for sure.

I have no CS degree. I've been developing professionally since 1999. (I had no degree of any kind at the time - I've since picked up a couple of non-technical associate degrees that really have no bearing on my career)

No. There is plenty of remote contract work available for people with much experience (esp. with legacy or open source software.) It really also depends heavily about what sector you want to go in.

As a contractor and consultant I have worked with hundreds of programmers. Very few have CS degrees. The self-taught ones tend to specialise in specific tools and areas. It is very hard to maintain the discipline to be a self taught SE with equivalent knowledge to those doing a SE degree.

A formal course in software engineering is not CS. SE courses focus on theory, principles, design, rather like other fields of engineering, e.g. mechanical or civil. A lot of programming is required for exercises and projects but the courses only cover languages and tools in passing. Of course, there are huge differences in how SE is taught in different universities.


It's not the only way, but considering the current trends, it gets harder and harder with time to get a good job without a CS degree.

I generally get substantially better results from engineers than from CS graduates.

If you are serious about programming as a profession, study engineering. The job has changed enormously over decades, but engineers train for adaptability.


No, we hire EE majors and Computer engineering majors.

No.



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