Do You Need A Degree To Be A Developer? Maybe Not.

10 Apr

From a young age we are told that school is one of the most important aspects of life. We are told that we won’t be hired for a good job if we don’t study hard, go to college, and get a degree. For certain careers this is certainly true; think doctors and lawyers. Most people would probably think the same about becoming a developer. To become a developer you would likely focus on courses in mathematics and computer science among others. However, a recent survey may dispel this belief.

Stack Overflow conducted what it calls the “most comprehensive developer survey ever conducted” to find out how developers came to learn their skills. The survey includes respondents from all over the world, although Stack Overflow did suggest that developers who don’t take like taking English surveys might be underrepresented. Stack Overflow surveyed over 26,000 respondents who identified themselves a few ways:

  • Full Stack: 6,800
  • Mobile: 1,900
  • Front-End: 1,200
  • Other: 12,000

The most common programming languages were Javascript, SQL, PHP, Java, and C#. Javascript was the most used language overall while Java was the number one server-side language.

While these statistics are certainly insightful, they are not the most eye-opening. The most surprising statistics were how these programmers learned these languages. Nearly half of the survey respondents (48%) did not have a degree in Computer Science or equivalent education while 33% never even took a computer science class at a University. This suggests that that half of developers are self-taught, whether it be through books, informal classes, or on the job training.

Another shocking statistic is the experience of developers. Only a quarter (25%) of developers that responded had experience of 10+ years. This suggests that while developers are growing in number, the trend is a more recent one. Of course, some of this may be due to how recent the language is such as Swift or Node.js.

Ultimately what this survey suggests is that programming is not a career in which a degree trumps all. Experience doesn’t seem to be a huge factor either. What it really comes down to is ability and knowledge. Some would argue that ability and knowledge comes from formal teaching and training, but others may rival this trend to self-taught musicians or other similar realms.

What this really means is that programming is a growing trend around the world. In the United States it is suggested that many IT jobs, many in programming, go unfilled due to the lack of good programmers. This should soon be rectified as more and more programmers become more experienced in a number of different languages.

When it comes to learning programming there are a ton of options out there. The traditional University or classroom route is fairly common. There are also less expensive options such as TreeHouse, CodeCademy, or Khan Academy. Of course, there is always yourself, the self-teacher which as we found out is a great way to learn. Whatever the avenue, it seems developers are no longer coming at a premium, and that’s a great thing for technology and businesses worldwide.