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General Discussion

Does a job as a web developer require a degree?

I'm really interested in becoming a web developer, but that would mean a career change.

I wanted to know if getting a job as a web developer would require a degree of some sort?

10 Answers

From what I have been told at college & talking to people in the field, it really depends.

If you are looking to join a company as a web developer at a higher level then in most cases you would need a degree, or a fairly large portfolio.

If you are wanting to freelance then there is no real need for a degree, as long as you can get the job done you should be good to go. Although for freelance you also need a portfolio.

So the answer is depending on what you want to do.

High level in a company - Yes

Starting your own company or freelance - Probably not

If you check out the jobs here at Treehouse, they don't specify that you would need a degree.

http://teamtreehouse.com/jobs

Hope this helped!

Alan Johnson
Alan Johnson
7,625 Points

In general we don't require a degree at Treehouse. In fact, we usually ignore anything you mention about your educational background when we're interviewing you. Our take is that great experience is the best thing that anyone can bring with them to a job interview. Great experience doesn't have to be for-pay experience, though - an open source project or a cool personal site is super valuable and an awesome way to get into the door.

Other companies vary a lot. There are certainly many companies that want to see that diploma, but my experience is that you can generally get around that if you've got the skills you need.

I'd like to add to this.

I didn't have a portfolio (because I'm not a Web Designer) and most of the work I did had the designer's name on the website, so it is very difficult to show what I did when I started out.

As a developer it's quite hard to showcase your work if you don't also have a design flair to go with it.

However, teaming up with designers can be a great way to get work, if you're competent, and a great way to start building out a list of sites you can showcase.

There's no need for a degree, but if you want to be able to move past making small websites, it will be beneficial to take courses (online or otherwise) in more advanced topics, such as security, database administration, linux or apache administration or front-end concerns like WAI or ARIA and 503 Compliance.

Otherwise to get noticed include learning how to navigate front-end optimisation techniques, caching and testing practices, such as unit-testing or test-driven-design.

A lot of what you can offer is ingenuity, effort, communication ability, willingness to keep learning and problem solve and the ability to be efficient with your time and resources. Degrees rarely cover the practical aspects of Professional Web Development or Design, but real-life can often steer you down a course that's narrow in scope.

In both cases, it's up to you to broaden your horizons and it's often a character quality rather than degree qualification that can get you that job. What you did with what you had will show an employer a lot more than a qualification alone.

Alan Johnson
Alan Johnson
7,625 Points

Great points, @Andrew!

Now when do I get my job at TreeHouse ;) ? lol </kidding>

James Barnett
James Barnett
39,199 Points

@Andrew-

Now when do I get my job at TreeHouse

Treehouse is actually currently looking for video teachers, if you've got a web-related skill to teach you should seriously consider making a 3-5 minute audition video where you teach a specific topic and send it in.

James Barnett
James Barnett
39,199 Points

@Yamil - It depends on what you mean by "job".

A lot of people get paid to build websites as freelancers.

One of the key things to convincing a customer to pay you to build a site, is usually examples of websites that other people paid you to build and references from those people to show you know what you are doing.

John Locke
John Locke
15,479 Points

@Yamil I would really focus on learning what you can from places like Treehouse or other tutorial places, and building something you can show. Eventually, you might want to have a repository on GitHub as well. Employers are going to look at what you've built, what you can do, and what you know. Knowledge and experience are vastly more important than a degree at this point.

Here's an interesting side-note.

If you're working 18 hours a day on client projects, you have no time to invent your own public projects that you don't mind sharing on github.

That's the situation I'm in and so I have nothing to show in those kinds of places. Client projects are always NDAd and private, giving you very little to show for your efforts.

How do you get around those issues to show your skills?