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I make more than the average US programmer, don't have a degree, and don't have any student loans to pay off.

Most places that "require" a CS degree don't actually, and I wouldn't want to work for any company that is so stuck up in BS bureaucratic policy that it can't evaluate an employee on their merits. I find the lack of degree makes a good filter for avoiding companies with BS internal policies that would be frustrating to deal with on a daily basis. I want to work with humans who take reality into consideration not just arbitrary rules.

With that said, lacking a degree can hamper you in the beginning because you need some way to show that you actually know enough to be worth hiring. I solved that problem by simply working for myself in the beginning. As you've already got a job I say screw the degree, and put the saved tuition fees towards doing something amazing with your life.

It's amazing how much more value your work history can bring than a degree. As a high-school dropout (due to boredom from not being stimulated and learning anything new) it concerned me quite a bit that I wasn't getting the same opportunities or salary as others in my field. I now know that very few places actually care about that degree - and those that do are shooting themselves in the foot imho. As for salary - I had to tell quite a few of my friends that they were getting severely underpaid when I thought I would be the one in that position.

I have to say, I'm pretty happy to see others who have gone this route and lived to tell about it. My family was fairly poor, so we moved around a lot. Education was not really on the top of the list in terms of priorities; my last student record counted 16 different elementary, secondary schools that I had attended.

As a getaway from my personal issues, I would write code and design on local library's or friend's computers. Eventually I was able to buy my own computer and – to make a long story short – was hired full time as a web developer. This wasn't the plan, mind you. I didn't complete highschool, but because of my 3 years of experience I qualified for college. I ended up making the choice of not going and continuing my full time employment. It didn't make sense to me to leave my job, then go to school only to later try and get a job that I already had. Since I was passionate about my work, learning and evolving my knowledge was never an issue.

I don't think this approach works for everyone, mind you. You have to have a sincere love for the work. That being said, college gives you access to like-minded peers, social engagements and a level of submersion that I think is helpful for most people.

Today I own a successful web & digital company, so I have the privilege of being able to look at a resume and not judge the applicant by the CS degree, but more on work experience and passion.

As I stated on another comment, one of the main barriers to entry for me is the money to pay tuition while I am studying, with no guaranteed return, the question then is where to go from here, I don't want to let myself stagnate academically, so I want to at least do something to self improve and I feel that learning yet another language can only teach me so much, I've been toying with the though of an ICS course or something similar but none of the courses they offer are really any good.

(Disclaimer: I have already tried the Coursera courses and thought they were great but didn't really enjoy the format, I would however recommend the Dan Boneh Cryptography class, it taught me more than any other!)

I wish the world was that simple.

It really depend where you are. Here in France companies wont even look at you if you don't have 3 years of experience. It's ridiculous.

And the salary it not even competitive.

>Here in France companies wont even look at you if you don't have 3 years of experience. It's ridiculous.

This is true in most places. I would suggest looking at things you've done outside of professional work that would differentiate you and show you really enjoy what you're applying to do.

It used to be getting a degree would satisfy this. Now the majority of people have degrees so you should look to do other things to differentiate you.

I did found a job in a startup.

I am actually their first employee but again the employee valuation is way different from the offers I got in Cali when I was living there.

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