Being a web developer often times feels like I live in backwards land.
I went to UTD for 1.5 semesters. I ended up with $2,000 in student loans (paid off!). I make a stupid amount of money, work from home in my pajamas, and have great benefits. I also do contract work on the side that pushes my income even higher. To top it all off, I love what I do and can't imagine myself doing anything else.
Compare that with friends from high school that went to state college for 4 years, have $50,000 in student loan debt and ended up getting a job that pays less than $50k, with long hours and uncertain stability.
Thankfully not having a college degree has not affected me in a negative way.
The degrees are important when it's difficult to demonstrate skill. When you can't put together a portfolio of work, you need external signals, and pedigree is a commonly accepted signal (to a great extent, due to the fact that those with a strong pedigree are usually the ones hiring and they promulgate that type of thinking)
Web development is one area where its possible to construct a portfolio and have others evaluate your work, which makes the degree a less relevant part of the evaluation process.
> With sites like github this is true for any tech job.
Not any tech job. In some specialties there's still a lot to be said for formal education, and I wouldn't anticipate it being easy to land a job doing something like NLP without at least a Bachelor's degree any time soon.
For stuff like Web development where it's mostly about knowing your tools rather than understanding theory, though, yes definitely. Even if we're going to assume some formal training will be expected, I still think most folks in the tech space are poorly served by the prejudice for 4-year degrees. An associate's degree or certificate would be far less expensive and onerous. I suspect it would also be able to do a better job of preparing folks for their careers, by virtue of being freer to focus on practical skills without also having to serve the educational needs of students who are bound for postgraduate programs.
You have to hit the lottery with parents who will go along with this program. :) My parents would have looked at me like I sprouted another arm.
Like they did when I was about to drop out of school and start at the community college in the mid-90s so that I could get an IT degree and move to silicon valley. In retrospect, it wouldn't have been a bad idea -- they were teaching COBOL and Fortran after all. :)
A good Portfolio is really key. I've pivoted from being a web developer to a mobile developer (iOS & Droid).
I only got hired for this job because I had 3 apps in the app-store. I was passed over for many jobs that I was qualified for, but being a programmer most businesses want a cog that already knows everything (which is definitely a misnomer). I have a university degree in 'Music Theory & Composition', not CS, which I think has hurt me when HR people looked at my resume. Also I was passed over for a job because I didn't list HTML as a language I know. Sometimes you're limited just by the ignorant people looking at your resume.
I live in Utah, and here I've noticed the same trends. A bachelors degree for Science/Math is not enough to land a "good" job. Where good is defined by me as over 50k and promotion opportunities. Employers weed out based on possession of a bachelors degree.
However, the market for software engineers is much more merit based right now. Many good engineering jobs that pay 6 figures require "a bachelors degree in a technical field or equivalent experience".
I'll be the first one to argue that attending a university is a good idea for someone who want to call him/herself a developer, but lack of a degree is not a showstopper to a great job. The reality though is that if/when the market for engineers slows down, employers will probably begin to apply the same filters. Even if a degree isn't required today, it might be a necessity in 5 years for someone starting out.
According to a rigorous survey (n = 2 or 3, maybe), this cultural shift might already be underway.
Namely, I know some developers who do not hold degrees themselves that have recently started listing a Bachelor's in computer science as a requirement for consideration on new job postings. It's not, obviously, because they think people who haven't been through college can't do the job. It's because they're already seeing so many applicants that the filter's being applied anyway, and they merely decided to start being up-front about it.