How far will you make it without a degree

[)roi(]

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- No one mentioned how long, or how quickly they were able to do so
- No one without a degree mentioned what motivation they would need in order to obtain a degree relevant to the field of Computer Sciences, Informatics or Mathmatics.
I completed my degrees only in the latter part of my life; primarily as a way to focus on areas of mathematic (FP related) that were of interest to me; and formalising it made it easier to allot time for it.
... meaning for the majority of my time I did not have a degree and it never hindered me in any way; neither locally or internationally, and hence my approach is not measure a person solely on the degrees they brandish.

Reality is if degrees were all that mattered to ensure success then South Africa and America wouldn't have so many degreed people flipping burgers.

|)roi(| - you are untaggable.
I take it that has something to do with the name.
 

cheesus

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You can also get pretty far by being a self-employed web developer, nothing stopping anyone from building websites for money. It is highly unlikely that your credentials would even be discussed, so many more self-taught programmers than any other sort. It is more likely that you are going to be asked for a portfolio and that is what you will be judged upon.
 

Botha22

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Degree / academic / qualifications inflation is real. Jobs that did not require a degree 10 years ago now do, simply because of too many candidates for limited vacancies.

If you can, get your degree. Add your experience and certifications to the mix, and you have given yourself a fair chance to compete and succeed.
 

terencej

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I'm sure there'll be some comments about an oke with a degree who f'ed things up, and needed to be fixed by an oke with a cert...
Here's one of them...I actually know people with BSC's that cannot grasp basic programming principles and work as developers.
I am of meaning that you either have a knack for software engineering or don't. You can have all the paper with degrees printed on them in the world and still not be able to put anything you read into practice.
 

cguy

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Here's one of them...I actually know people with BSC's that cannot grasp basic programming principles and work as developers.
I am of meaning that you either have a knack for software engineering or don't. You can have all the paper with degrees printed on them in the world and still not be able to put anything you read into practice.
I know such people too - not where I’ve ever worked though. Thing is, no company or person worth their salt believes that a degree is a sufficiency condition, so it really doesn’t matter at all that such people exist. These people should really be weeded out in the interview process - if not, the company has poor hiring standards and should be avoided at all costs. So if these people are your colleagues, you should really consider a job move. :)

What does matter is whether or not a degree affects expectation, and it most certainly does. Interview testing appropriate for the level should of course still be done, but a company can filter the candidates early, based on both degree and/or quality and quantity of experience, in order to more efficiently find the right candidate for a given position.
 
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terencej

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I know such people too - not where I’ve ever worked though. Thing is, no company or person worth their salt believes that a degree is a sufficiency condition, so it really doesn’t matter at all that such people exist. These people should really be weeded out in the interview process - if not, the company has poor hiring standards and should be avoided at all costs. So if these people are your colleagues, you should really consider a job move. :)

What does matter is whether or not a degree affects expectation, and it most certainly does. Interview testing appropriate for the level should of course still be done, but a company can filter the candidates early, based on both degree and/or quality and quantity of experience, in order to more efficiently find the right candidate for a given position.
Some previous companies I worked at. Luckily my current place of employment seems to have this weeding out process down to the T.
 

Dirtdiver

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I see the value in education, its a must for my children even when I have alot to give them, one of the clauses is they need to get a tertiary education. It will teach them alot about life and help them build their networks. But even with a degree, we can only go that far and we cant become the boss, unless you have own business. So even with a degree we still all part of the 9-5. Imagine we need a degree for that.

I went to my class reunion last year and couple of my friends who just got by in school, are doing the best financially from all of us. Guys with the degrees, are either still studying to become a Jedi master lol and i noticed they are ones with no kids also. I know I'm just generalizing but the world seems to work differently or maybe just in SA. I for one right now, believe in a different form of education that just notching up degrees.

So i guess you can go as far as you want, with or without a degree, just depends where YOU want to go.
 

cguy

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I see the value in education, its a must for my children even when I have alot to give them, one of the clauses is they need to get a tertiary education. It will teach them alot about life and help them build their networks. But even with a degree, we can only go that far and we cant become the boss, unless you have own business. So even with a degree we still all part of the 9-5. Imagine we need a degree for that.

I went to my class reunion last year and couple of my friends who just got by in school, are doing the best financially from all of us. Guys with the degrees, are either still studying to become a Jedi master lol and i noticed they are ones with no kids also. I know I'm just generalizing but the world seems to work differently or maybe just in SA. I for one right now, believe in a different form of education that just notching up degrees.

So i guess you can go as far as you want, with or without a degree, just depends where YOU want to go.
I am fairly sure that having a degree would greatly increases your likelihood of success as a business owner. Especially in engineering, tech, finance, biotech, etc.
 
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ronald911

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I am fairly sure that having a degree would greatly increases your likelihood of success as a business owner. Especially in engineering, tech, finance, biotech, etc.
True... but then what about the business owners who for example have a degree in something random like Music, Politics or Philosophy and then own large Tech businesses?

A "physical" field where you actually need the qualification, eg Medicine, Civil Engineering, etc - sure you probably need the qualification legally.

But with Tech on the internet, a degree (even CompSci) doesn't mean anything.

Anyone can teach themselves how to code these days - which essentially is what Tech is all about.
 

cguy

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True... but then what about the business owners who for example have a degree in something random like Music, Politics or Philosophy and then own large Tech businesses?

A "physical" field where you actually need the qualification, eg Medicine, Civil Engineering, etc - sure you probably need the qualification legally.

But with Tech on the internet, a degree (even CompSci) doesn't mean anything.

Anyone can teach themselves how to code these days - which essentially is what Tech is all about.
A degree in just about anything is valuable. It teaches one to think critically, teaches discipline, and usually delves into how at least some “system” works, be it literary theory, philosophy, or politics.

Most tech business owners have degrees in CS, engineering, physics or maths though. Those who didn’t graduate often studied for a few years at very good universities, and many of the famous ones were also lucky enough to be born in the right place in the 60’s. :)

For tech, one usually needs an edge, being more educated on advanced technology (a lot more than just code) itself is an advantage. Being able to reason using mathematics and statistics is even more valuable. These aren’t things that should be overlooked by an entrepreneur. Also, being able to code is probably a very small part of tech entrepreneurship, except perhaps in the startup phase.
 
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CT_Biker

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For tech, one usually needs an edge, being more educated on advanced technology (a lot more than just code) itself is an advantage. Being able to reason using mathematics and statistics is even more valuable. These aren’t things that should be overlooked by an entrepreneur. Also, being able to code is probably a very small part of tech entrepreneurship, except perhaps in the startup phase.
That which I have bolded is a great sentiment to argue. Which I am slightly hesitant to agree with based off the fact that most undergrads -it is annoying that you hammer on the exact same sentiments , if you account the fact that a CS will lose close to half, if not half of its enrolled students by the first semester you are going to lose the potential for more creators at your disposal and in the available job pool.

Those who make it to their undergraduate graduation will most likely never re-enter academia as a post-grad student due to various reasons, but mostly because these recent graduates have chosen to go and work.

They leave university with the grounding and broad-based theoretical "training"/"skill". based on my observation, a CS student in university does not receive formal training on programming best practices - so let us argue that "simply coding" is not even taught in the same vain that mathematics is, and as a matter of fact, neither is high-level problem solving to be brutally frank. And yes, you are going to counter my argument with the fact that 3 years of university level algebra will quip said graduate with the ability to solve software related problems - which it doesn't.

Now with regards to you mentioning the fact that "one usually needs an edge", if the said undergraduate re-enters academia and proceeds onto their honors, they nominate their elective and simply focus on that specific area and complete their honors degree - they would have obtained the edge they need, however, you are merely amassing more theoretical knowledge with little practice in a practical environment.

As a graduate Computer Scientist, where is one supposed "find their niche" if not while working in a practical environment or at a university, and you need to consider there comes a point where being over educated with zero experience makes you difficult to employ, and you have to consider that some people who study computer science are horrible programmers.

You have completely left out an entire section of the working world where a programmer needs to have decent soft-skills, and above all they need to be able to apply their skills in the given context of their working environment - some may call this "critical thinking", but it is in fact comprehension which is forms part of critical thinking.

Your rhetoric does not fully encompass the actual environment of other posters points of view, and further more nor do you actually make mention of the development process right from ideation all the way to real-time implementation.

Either you are particularly jaded and cocooned in your way thinking or you enjoy minimizing the fact that within the world of programming, and software engineering that every developer worth their salt, is predominantly self-taught pursing their own interests in their spare time on their own.

Albeit, I am completely self taught - I did study English Literature.

As an aside, should you disagree or feel that I am wrong, know that I will happily find out if I am wrong soon enough as I will be studying computer science next year, feel free to write off this entire wall of text too.
 

cguy

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You can be very long winded from time to which makes it particularly easy to misplace the meaning behind what you are saying and sometimes it can be taken of context or missed completely.
And...

That which I have bolded is a great sentiment to argue. Which I am slightly hesitant to agree with based off the fact that most undergrads -it is annoying that you hammer on the exact same sentiments , if you account the fact that a CS will lose close to half, if not half of its enrolled students by the first semester you are going to lose the potential for more creators at your disposal and in the available job pool.

Those who make it to their undergraduate graduation will most likely never re-enter academia as a post-grad student due to various reasons, but mostly because these recent graduates have chosen to go and work.

They leave university with the grounding and broad-based theoretical "training"/"skill". based on my observation, a CS student in university does not receive formal training on programming best practices - so let us argue that "simply coding" is not even taught in the same vain that mathematics is, and as a matter of fact, neither is high-level problem solving to be brutally frank. And yes, you are going to counter my argument with the fact that 3 years of university level algebra will quip said graduate with the ability to solve software related problems - which it doesn't.

Now with regards to you mentioning the fact that "one usually needs an edge", if the said undergraduate re-enters academia and proceeds onto their honors, they nominate their elective and simply focus on that specific area and complete their honors degree - they would have obtained the edge they need, however, you are merely amassing more theoretical knowledge with little practice in a practical environment.

As a graduate Computer Scientist, where is one supposed "find their niche" if not while working in a practical environment or at a university, and you need to consider there comes a point where being over educated with zero experience makes you difficult to employ, and you have to consider that some people who study computer science are horrible programmers.

You have completely left out an entire section of the working world where a programmer needs to have decent soft-skills, and above all they need to be able to apply their skills in the given context of their working environment - some may call this "critical thinking", but it is in fact comprehension which is forms part of critical thinking.

Your rhetoric does not fully encompass the actual environment of other posters points of view, and further more nor do you actually make mention of the development process right from ideation all the way to real-time implementation.

Either you are particularly jaded and cocooned in your way thinking or you enjoy minimizing the fact that within the world of programming, and software engineering that every developer worth their salt, is predominantly self-taught pursing their own interests in their spare time on their own.

Albeit, I am completely self taught - I did study English Literature.

As an aside, should you disagree or feel that I am wrong, know that I will happily find out if I am wrong soon enough as I will be studying computer science next year, feel free to write off this entire wall of text too.
:)

Pretty much all of what you have written above is a result of misunderstanding the concepts of sufficiency, necessity, expectancy, certainty and probability, and how they apply to a logical discourse. When I make a claim of expectancy, it's not a claim of sufficiency, nor is it a claim of necessity - you make this mistake in your reading and your writing all the time.

I would also refrain from stating generalized "facts" about the “world of programming”, until you've had a larger view it.
 
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^^vampire^^

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A degree will allow you an easier path to doing do more advanced, typically more interesting, and more lucrative work. From a "paper" perspective, it will allow you easier entrance to many jobs, and will make it easier to emigrate, as has already been mentioned. It also teaches you the fundamentals for the type of advanced work mentioned above. The actually "learning" here is something you could do by yourself, but is essentially pretty hard to do by yourself - a degree is structured to provide efficient learning of this material.

Career wise, you aren't specifically limited without a degree, however, all things being equal, your expected (in the statistical sense) level of success will be lower without one. Note that in IT, this can still be pretty good. People shouting "you too can be a statistical outlier", are underplaying the low statistical likelihood of this actually happening, and quite frankly, also have a rather modest idea of what an outlier here actually is. The biggest misunderstandings of this debate typically arise from people conflating possibility and probability.

For me personally, my degree opened up plenty of opportunities in SA, and eventually overseas. I am pretty sure I would have been reasonably successful without one (at the end of matric, I had already been coding for 10 years), but I wouldn't have been close to where I am today.

There are indeed many senior employees at Google and Apple without degrees, which means "you don't need a degree", but it also screams "you should really really have one if you want to work on our core software/hardware". Throwing out Apple retail from consideration, the vast majority of Apple, and the vast majority of Google software engineers have degrees - many advanced degrees.

This is just selection bias: The people you know and work with tend not to have degrees because you don't. This is a natural follow on from working at a company which does the kind of work where degrees aren't required/advantageous.

No offense, but your definition of all the way isn't particularly ambitious. Also, with all the BS you've written about experiencing in your work life, I am really surprised you would recommend this path to anyone.
I think this sums up every part of the argument pretty well.

To borrow from my own experience when I did my first qualification I already knew all the work being taught so that would easily lead me to believe I could have done well as a software developer without it. That being said I didn't have to go down that route so I just don't know but as cguy states I most likely would have come short by struggling to land a job, no matter how good I actually was.

Cue well over 10 years laters and I have 3 qualifications and although my previous work experience helped me gain more from those extra 2 qualification than if I did them all consecutively, it was only one or two subjects I got great pleasure and real learning from rather than the majority of others. That being said I do reasonably well career and pay wise (I could potentially push for $50k per year increase but my perks are pretty good currently), and I'm contacted all the time by companies and recruiters (I've turned down an Amazon job 4 times which would probably be some peoples versions of making it). I believe this is very much attributed to having my qualifications which opens up the channels of communications which I believe others don't get. Of course you have to be able to prove your worth and deliver but without those doors being opened initally you lose out on massive opportunities that can propel you forward.

I must say I have come across a handful of people that had no qualifications and were very good but thinking of it now it's just that - a handful (maybe 3 or 4). I have no doubt that there are tons of people that are great developers and don't have qualifications but if I look at the percentage of those that had qualifications to those that don't I think those that didn't would be maybe 1% (or less) of all the developers I've interacted with. The other notable thing was that these guys weren't just great but rather exceptional really. One was bored staying in Jhb and so said he was moving to Cpt and so they offered him a full time work from home position, the other guy wanted to try something different and so the CEO (this is a global financial/insurance company netting billions of dollars every year) came down personally and offered him in no uncertain terms a blank cheque to write his own salary to which he refused. I can guarantee you I was being offered none of that.

One other thing, I also thought I would never go into management (and I'm still mostly dev focused), and fair enough some do want to just dev forever, but there is something interesting about management. Some would believe it's just paper pushing etc but once you have had time to analyse it and see what is really involved (especially to do it well) it may pique your interest. It's not for everyone but if you get to the point where you need a new challenge (especially a different type to programming) then it becomes interesting in the tactics of managing workflow, people, finances, business relationships etc and you actually find that delving into this world can open doors for you too. Taking a bit of a step back now I feel that developers (myself included) have a very myopic view of the world and it helps to immerse yourself in other aspects of the world and business.
 

jsheed_sa

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No offense, but your definition of all the way isn't particularly ambitious. Also, with all the BS you've written about experiencing in your work life, I am really surprised you would recommend this path to anyone.
:ROFL: :ROFL: :ROFL: :ROFL: :ROFL: :ROFL: :ROFL:
 

cguy

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https://rejected.us/ - somewhat relatable where people get turned down for various reasons. Degreed or otherwise.
Possibly a good idea for a new thread. I have previously been rejected after interviewing at 1 tech company, and 2 finance companies in my career.
 
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