I always wondered what I would do if for some reason the market for software developers would go down. I worry I would not able to find an interesting job, let alone a lucrative one.
Is tech the best path out there for interesting and/or well paid work without a college education?
There is a difference between getting an education and being educated. If you focus on educating yourself without worrying about what your title you have the chance of learning about subject matter transcendence i.e. you will become skilled at some mixture of subjects without being "the best" at any one of them.
This subject matter transcendence I believe is one of the keys to staying relevant and aware of what is going on around you as it gives you an intuitive understanding of how various areas could be connected.
As typical example is the designer/developer. A person who both know how to design and how to code. That person might not be the best at the individual disciplines but the combination is in itself providing them with an edge on 80% of the people BOTH in the design field AND in the development field.
Don't worry about confining yourself into becoming an expert in one field who then will need to compete with other experts.
Instead become an expert in your own chosen subject matter no matter how fractured and you will be able to if nothing else, start your own company solving a problem your unique understanding of the world might lead you to.
In other words. Don't worry just keep educating yourself that's the best you can do.
Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in a related subject, such as computer science, informatics or engineering.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.
Applications are invited from anyone with sufficient experience or proven ability in software, security, or data engineering. A typical applicant will have at least two years' experience in a professional environment, and an undergraduate degree in a related subject. However, more extensive experience may compensate for a lack of formal qualifications, and a strong, immediately-relevant qualification may compensate for a lack of professional experience.
Emphasis not in original
 - "what I would do if for some reason the market for software developers would go down"
On the other hand, I have to agree. Six years experience means OP is a developer eligible for 'senior' roles; just stay current and do your job well, you'll be fine.
So I would say that diversifying and investing in the future is a good idea.
Cooking or baking is another option. Some great chefs out there never graduated from college or culinary school.
Running a business also doesn’t require a college degree. My wife owns a café and never graduated from college.
Celebrity chefs can make a lot of money, but I’m pretty sure just about everyone else is just barely scraping by.
Chefs and head cooks earn a median amount of around $50,000 a year https://www.bls.gov/ooh/food-preparation-and-serving/chefs-a...
So I'm not so sure about your point.
But that's less than 50% of lawyers, and it's voluntary.
I did the research on this when I thought I wanted to go into law myself.
What might be relevant for the discussion here is that lawyer salaries have been unimodal 25 years ago but have changed over the course of time. It has been argued here on HN  and elsewhere  that developer salaries are bound to suffer the same fate.
I’ve heard from many friends that have extreme difficulty finding someone to e.g. redo their roof or tile their floor as most professionals can just afford to wait for large, extremely lucrative jobs instead due to the high demand overhang. Single gigs can be in the ballpark of 50 to 100 thousand €, with hourly rates in excess of 100 € not being uncommon. Easily beats the going rate for developers here (which is around 80 € / hour).
That would be a really interesting project to work on. Some Tesla engineers that work on self-driving cars could probably do very well if they started their own company doing this for tugboats, or just the shipping industry in general.
Now that I think about it, autonomous self-flying airplanes should be coming pretty soon. Found this article about it: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/16/business/airplanes-unmann...
We're going to look back on this period of time and shudder at the thought of humans in the cockpit, or humans working as air traffic controllers.
You are right to worry ( https://stackoverflow.com/jobs?q=bscs ). It will be more of a problem when you're in your late 40's, maybe married with kids, and laid off in a tight economy, without a degree. I mean, if you ever see it in job ads, or have it mentioned in interviews, then it is a thing.
Consider signing up for a local college with a decent CS program (public or private) and taking one course a semester at night or on weekends. Then the default becomes you graduate eventually. Also, the fact that you are going and making progress helps as well. It also helps your programming - reflecting on mutual exclusion and critical sections for a semester will not hurt you any in your job.
I'm not even sure how to approach criticizing this, because I'm sure you mean well, but if someone aims to make a living in these two things, they better get ready for a lifelong dose of failure.
There are ways to become successful as a writer, but you need to be either very lucky, or cheat. See  for an example of the latter.
But I don't believe tech is going away. You better work on getting this anxiety away, you were probably thinking "oh shit, things are going down because there are too much clowns getting funding and giving web dev projects that makes no money for them and go bankrupt". I did that frequently, maybe you also did, I'm just trying to view things from your perspective.
The other side of the story is that for every 100 clowns, there is 1 that succeeds and controls a whole industry. Programming will be well paid for a while. Most of the people can't/won't even learn how to program or be willing to do it to earn a living, no matter how good it pays.
Consider actually learning other platform, such as systems engineering/mobile etc. That will definitely help you out with that.
Even if you would help people writing VBA functions in Excel you could make money. There are a lot of old people making 6-7 figures that can't open a PDF. Remember that. The economic and the system as today, isn't going away. There will always be banks, politicians and entrepreneurs creating jobs and keeping people busy.
As long as you are willing to work, you will do just fine.
But I don't believe tech is going away.
In that case, companies with solid products at good prices still went bankrupt, as the customers-of-their-customers had trouble and demand for their products dried up; and as investors were spooked out of the entire sector. The damage wasn't limited to the likes of pets.com!
Sure, you might need to work under some bad conditions or take a pay cut, but that is just life. For who has great experience shit shovelling their whole life, this is nothing. For those who doesn't and can't take a crisis, they wouldn't be able to take it in any field of work.
I think there will be always well-paid work for people who are analytical, maybe you need to start over on another field, but it isn't that bad. Idk really, anything could happen, but as soon as I look around, I'm usually the most employable person ever, can speak a few languages, can do a lot of stuff, IT, development, I welcome new opportunities and things, can deal with money well and has my whole life studied finance.
I think for a lot of people on our field it is like this. I actually would appreciate if we would have a crisis, because that would be definitely the time I would be able to take part in those businesses that grow on those times and end up being huge. At the present there is a lot of shitty companies with huge valuations and providing nothing, crisis are good because they really shake the status quo and those who think outside of the box get out of it much better than if everything was perfect.
Sewer Diver 130000 EUR
Federal Minister 124046 EUR
Flight Controller 78000 EUR
Offshore Mechanic 58500 EUR
Elevator Technican 52000 EUR
Driving Instructor 47500 EUR
Garbageman 42000 EUR
So if you're good at software, then do that. There's little chance for the demand for software developers to go down; it's one of the safest career paths there is. There is of course a chance that the software market will change and that demand for Ruby or Ember will drop. But if you can learn those, you can also learn to develop in Python and Vue or something.
Keep learning, keep diversifying.
Of course it's possible you have other talents. Maybe you're a good comic artist, cook, salesman, manager or something else entirely. Work on those skills when you can, and build up a portfolio so you can prove to people that you're good at these things too. There are plenty of fields where talent is far more important than a degree. A degree is merely a way to develop that talent and prove you've done that.
If you don't have a college degree, you just need to find other ways to show potential employers you're intelligent and hardworking, regardless of industry.
To think about this from any other perspective is to unnecessarily pigeonhole yourself.
I don't have a degree, but I still got the first job I ever applied to (as a full-time BI dev, not internship). I was lucky that they had an entrance "exam" that I could use to prove my capability.
The entrance "exam" looked like this: they asked me what programming languages I knew. I answered Python, C, awk. They said ok, then here are 3 simple tasks, do these in either Clojure or Elixir, get back to us when you are ready. I submitted my answers in 72 hours, talked my way through them on the interview and basically that was it.
The whole point of this was (I guess) to measure how quickly can I learn new things (functional languages need a different mindset than imperative languages).
Now I'm focusing on doing side projects that I can put on my webpage and resume, right next to the work experience.
Because your output is more measurable than in most other roles, credentials matter far less.
Software engineering is the most equalizing field in modern society. I mean, anyone with interest and reasonable intelligence can get good at it; they just need a used laptop and a decent internet connection. Add a good amount of CS understanding, and general creativity, one stands to make it big in this field. Compare that with trying to build the next generation automobile by self studying mechanical engineering, or creating a drug to cure your least favorite disease by learning bio chemistry through a MOOC.
Software engineering is the new humanities, albeit a lucrative one, in that you need just a bit of push in the beginning after which it is all up to you to explore and get good at.
Usually the added hassle of the business logistics (paperwork, additional business taxes on top of your payroll, etc) and everyone under the sun trying to lowball you. Not everyone has the intuition and patience necessary to handle all this extra work. There's also the added time commitments.
Your education increases the chance of you getting into a particular field, but doesn't guarantee it. If you are capable of exploiting opportunities - there is no field that you can't get into.
>Lambda School trains people online to be software engineers at no up-front cost. Instead of paying tuition, students can agree to pay a percentage of their income after they're employed, and only if they're making more than $50k per year.
If you don't find a job, or don't reach that level of income, you'll never pay a cent.
it has been discussed here before too: https://hn.algolia.com/?query=lambda%20school&sort=byPopular...
Coding is obviously super relevant now, and I personally believe for still a while, to remain employed. Yet, if you look at WEF prediction, it is soft skills – with obviously technical knowledge (that you already have) – that will matter in the long run.
So what does it means for you? The future of work is not about learning one tool (programming language for instance) and be done for a career. We can actually extend this to a type of job. The key is to be able re-train and re-tool. College education, and in general, lecture/instructor-based education, is generally training us the wrong way: we feed students with knowledge that is the answer for the exam in 2 weeks. In real life, we make money or are paid by solving problems (exams) but it's up to us to find the answer (the lecture). So it's completely backward.
Progressive Education, a movement that was created at the end of the 18th century is super relevant for our time. It's advocating for students to learn something by doing, to focus on problem-solving and critical thinking, soft skills and become a life-long learner. I am so in love with this methodology that I created a software engineering school using it, and it's working amazingly!
Since you seem to be self-taught, you probably already have this ability to self-learn, that's HUGE! My advice to you would be: try to learn something completely new, on your own. See how it goes. It might be painful, if so that is normal, keep going. I see that with our students who, especially when they start, are frustrated by the fact that we, as a school, are pushing them to find the knowledge by themselves instead of giving the answer by just raising their hand. The key here is not only to learn a new craft, but also and very importantly, to develop the ability to self-learn.
Develop your soft skills: collaboration, coaching, empathy, writing, negotiation, public speaking. Those are key to grow in seniority in the software track, but really, it is for any career.
Finally, I believe that tech isn't going anywhere, it's widely used by retail, finance, transportation, media, healthcare... Considering that you cannot remain employed as a software developer, no matter which position you end up working in, having tech knowledge will make a huge difference or be just essential.
2) A degree tells a potential employer you have knowledge in a field and the persistence to stick with a project/goal for 4-6 years. The latter possibly being more important than the former.
3) Focus on persistence and experience in particular technology or projects is definitely a good boost.