You Don't Need a CS Degree to Land a Web Development Job

April 13, 2022

Demand is high as many set their sights on a career in web development.

One of the most appealing aspects of learning web development is the incredible versatility of this sphere of programming. People just starting out can choose between front-end or back-end development—or even full-stack engineering! If you're interested in any field that touches on technology or design, learning to code is a terrific way to build foundational knowledge that will help you succeed in any occupation.

Whether you’re looking to start your career in web development or switching from a different type of work altogether, the question of education and experience has no doubt crossed your mind.

Do you really need a Computer Science (CS) degree to land a job in Web Development? Here’s my argument on why I think the answer is no (spoiler: I don’t have a CS degree).

Degrees Aren't as Important as They Once Were

I’ve interviewed over 150 candidates for entry and senior level web development positions and at the end of the day, the decision to extend an offer wasn’t dependent on their level of education.

The reality is that a formal degree isn't as important as it once was. Most employers aren't looking to fill a position because you have the piece of paper. Rather, they're looking for someone who can do the job and achieve results to benefit their business. Experience is becoming more important than education.

In fact, computer science degrees are not required for any of the work done at FAANG companies like Google. Only 15% of Google's employees worldwide have a CS degree, according to Laszlo Bock, the company's senior vice president for people operations.

You Can Learn to Code Online

If you're looking to break into web development, there are plenty of opportunities to enhance your skills and gain experience outside of college, including many free online resources. Code Academy, FreeCodeCamp, Khan Academy, Egghead and online course providers like Udemy and Pluralsight are only a few examples of the wide range of helpful resources available.

Being an online learner also allows you to learn at your own pace. Have a full-time job? No problem - study a little bit in the evening after you get home. Only have time to dedicate time on the weekends? Not to worry - there’s no pressure on cramming or meeting deadlines. The pace at which you learn is up to you and your unique situation.

If you have more money than time (or if you'd prefer to learn from a teacher), there are many different paid courses and bootcamps designed specifically for those learning how to code.

Web Development Bootcamps Provide More Real-world Experience

In my experience, graduates from bootcamps are often far more prepared than those with traditional computer science degrees. Bootcamp grads are able to hit the ground running and dive into projects because of the real-world experience and training they receive in the program.

In fact, many college curriculums are extremely outdated and fail to teach students the skills that they need to succeed in most real-world jobs.

Bootcamp graduates also often have more technical experience than those with a relevant degree, as compared to a college program where students spend a lot of time learning theoretical concepts and not necessarily applying them to real-life situations.

Bootcamps are designed to force students to spend time programming and solving problems that they would face in an actual development position.

It’s important to note, though, that coding bootcamps usually aren’t free. Like a traditional college degree, many bootcamps require some form of compensation for the training students undergo. However, it’s extremely uncommon for the expense to be anywhere as high as the daunting student debt that can pile up with with a four-year degree.

If you’re looking for a structured program to help you land your first web development position, consider looking into bootcamps such as Code Up, Flatiron School, Udacity and Coding Dojo.

What if I decide to get a Computer Science Degree?

I’m not saying that going to school and earning a 4-year degree isn’t worth it. On the contrary, if you decide that a degree is the best route for you to take, then it is worth it! You’ll learn valuable skills and you’ll still be able to land a job!

The argument I’m extending in this article is rather to provide an alternate viewpoint: that the job landscape has shifted and a degree is no longer required to land a programming job.

Granted, this is from my personal experience and I’m sure this may not be the case everywhere in the world. There will be some who disagree with me - and that’s fine! But I’ve seen countless individuals land jobs in tech with as little as 4 months of programming experience. Some create their own path and are self-taught. Others choose to be a little more structured and attend a bootcamp. There is no “right” way to get your foot in the door!

The job market is wide open for coding jobs

Landing a web development job in 2022 is more achievable than ever before; the demand for people with coding skills far exceeds the supply.

Companies across nearly every industry are eager to find someone with coding experience, but they're having trouble finding candidates who meet their standards. Many companies choose to hire junior programmers straight out of high school and train them on the job, or even bring on non-programmers and teach them how to code.

Now is the time for you to start programming and become a web developer - with so many online resources available, you can even do it without a college degree - I did, and I’ve found great success and fulfilment in this career!

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