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Acquiring a computer programming job without a degree


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Hey,

 

I'm currently enrolled in my local community college and the more classes I take the more depressed I become. At one point I was suicidal. I'm very uncomfortable in a school environment and quite frankly, I'm tired of school. I'm tired of book reports, homework, walking around with a bookbag, paying thousands for stupid classes, etc. I haven't learned anything new since I started college, which is the honest truth. Each year the school makes changes to the CS cirriculum which halts my graduation. With the way things are going now, it will be awhile before I obtain my associates degree.

 

People always tell me their stories about how they obtain well-paying computer programming jobs without even finishing college. That a programming portfolio is held in much higher regard than a college degree. I can see this being realistic since most kids who obtain a bachelor's degree in either computer science or information technology rarely code during their freetime (most of them are just in it for the money). And those game kids aren't really good programmers to begin with.

 

Throughout middle and high school I've been teaching myself and coding in c++, making various simple games and 3D applications. Game design is what I've always wanted to do, however, I wouldn't want to program games for a living since, compared to non-game software engineers, game developers work longer hours and get paid much less.

 

My plan is to make my portfolio which would include some 2D/3D games, 3D graphics demos, and some websites. Apply for either an entry-level web developer job (which is much, much easier than coding games) or a Quality Assurance spot (a.k.a game/application testing; crappy pay but atleast I gain some experience). After a couple of years, I'll probably get promoted to a mid-level programmer then I'll save money to start my own game development firm.

 

Anyway, are my plans realistic? The thought of college just makes me sick. With years of c++ programming under my belt, I can easily learn a new language (i.e.: c#, action script, java) that any job would require. I believe I'm ready for the work environment. Tired of carrying around books and doing stupid homework.

Edited by Alluminitti
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Your plans ARE unrealistic, there are already enough college grad programmers working at McDonalds as is.

The likelyhood of you getting a job without college is very low.

 

Too many people have gone through college/university for programming and other related courses, than are required thanks to the "IT" boom nearly a decade ago. And if you're unwilling to stick it out in school, no company is going to want you, you'll be unwilling to stick it out there as far as they're concerned.

 

My advice, find something else you enjoy that isn't overpopulated x100 and go to school for it, program as a hobby and hope it leads somewhere, do NOT rely on programming as a career in this day and age, you're honestly only setting yourself up for disappointment.

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I honestly don't like programming. I only choosed it as a hobby as a means of entry into the game development industry. The design of computer games, in particular, the aspect of gameplay appeals more to me than actually hacking in code all the day.

 

There are numerous local software firms hiring and most of their job postings have made no mention of a college degree. I don't think they give a crap as long as you have a portfolio and some work experience to back you up.

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A college degree does look impressive on a resume but as Cindr said there are too many out there already with a degree that can't find a job. So my advice to you is work on the portfolio and beef it up a bit. Learn another language besides c++ like java or action script then you should be able to get in somewhere. You might even try applying to jobs out there already that do not mention you need a degree and see what they require to hire you. Just don't give up and maybe one day you can own your own business. It is possible if I can do it anyone can.

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Learn Java really well. Learn a visual microsoft language, VC++ should be good. Also learn some kind of web database thing like php/mysql or xml/asp/sqlserver. Knowing ANSI SQL by heart is a big help. Right now I see a big field on making applications for mobile devices. About the college degree, even if you're good at programming with a big portafolio, the degree will help you get the job even if it's not requiered. If there are two people to pick from I would pick the college grad just because you would have more knowledge of other things besides plain programming.

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To me, your experience and attitude are far more important than a degree. But, most companies don't see it that way. They see that you have a degree, so they don't need to train you, and therefore you would start being productive immediately. In reality, it's never that easy for you or them.

 

I don't have a degree, and do programming and other computer stuff for a job. Of course, when I left school, there were no computers.

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yeah I think the old days of self taught programmers and IT guys is gone. back then the market was very small and it was easier to get into with out a degree, but in todays market there are so many talented people with degrees fighting for a small number of jobs, to try and compete with out a degree is foolish.

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Your portfolio would have to be FANTASTIC to make up for the lack of a degree. It's entirely possible, I think, to program without a degree but you have to be really really good. But you should apply anyway without the degree just in case you get lucky or something. The big, well known, or prestigious companies like id software (I think all their positions have some sort of degree as a Desired Skill since id is like the Harvard of gaming) can demand a college degree and get it but small game shops don't have that luxury.

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Interesting topic. But i don't get the main point.

 

- You won't do (scholar) education

- You don't like programming

- You look for programming job

- In the end, you like ever since "game design"

 

 

First off, some good answers here. A degree/paper is a plus. A degreed person doesn't have to be automatically good at it. A hobby kinda guy can be better or worse than the mentioned one - but putting this all in trashcan, a degree in your curiculum is something. Eventually, you don't have to graduate into something right now. But the earlier you start in something, you learn new guys, possibilities or even find a more detailled way what you exactly could do within your next years.

 

 

For the 'own developing firm'.. Well, after my 4 years doing this, I ran dry. The amount of competition is intense. 10 years ago, it would have been a great idea. Nobody wanted to pay big companies cause of the costs - so the little ones started popping out (like I did). In manner of software and self teaching possibilities nowadays you can't compare that anymore. There are COUNTless absolutelly talented guys, and many companies offering solid and affordable services. David vs Goliath style.

I'd have a more 'wide thought' on that if I were you. Of course, I can't judge your skills, what you exactly did past 5 years in that sector or how keen you are into them.

 

Did you have a thought yet about something more artistic (it sounds like you won't do codes, anyway)? Or an 'internship' (a pratical time within a company, happen to be 6 or 12 months)? And - I mostly recommend this - if you got a mate that can suggest a location of career counseling -> go and have a talk. It may cost nothing but can help. Don't feel ashamed to go there at any point. Those guys work there for questions and answers. Useful information may be one phone call away.

 

A don't want to go into further details, but those points would be what I can say about in short (as far as I understood it).

 

For the "one programmer earns much more than the other".. Hm, don't stumble over that. Depends 100% on where you work. But that can only be answered through contacts, employees or interviews.

 

 

One last thing I gotta mention: Like Drakeypoo wrote, call, do, make - but don't only 'plan'. If you want to have a portfolio that kicks ass - do. Working your way up can be one way. 5 more guys you'r gonna meet can know more guys, and that means possibilities.

And - if it's like you said possible to learn languages (like you mentioned a web dev) - well go for it.

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Your portfolio would have to be FANTASTIC to make up for the lack of a degree. It's entirely possible, I think, to program without a degree but you have to be really really good. But you should apply anyway without the degree just in case you get lucky or something. The big, well known, or prestigious companies like id software (I think all their positions have some sort of degree as a Desired Skill since id is like the Harvard of gaming) can demand a college degree and get it but small game shops don't have that luxury.

 

I have no intentions in working for a big company. I just want to get a moderately well-payinng programming job so I can move out. Alll of that stuff about making my own company will be in the distant future. I want to focus on the immediate goal at hand.

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