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General Discussion

Ian Z
Ian Z
14,584 Points

Everyone says you can get a web dev career w/o a degree, but im kinda scared not to go to college

The whole you can be a web/software dev without a degree thing seems too good to be true. So in theory i practice a bunch on my own, get 55,000 points on treehouse etc and keep building my own sites and web apps.
Then i create some amazing sites/projects and show them to the employer at the job interview? I tell my family this and they are horrified at me, calling me delusional and ignorant. I showed my parents treehouse ads and blog posts about not needing a degree and they absolutely hate it, saying websites like treehouse only tell people what they want to hear. I dont know what to do, i wish there were some solid statistics. I tried college for a semester, and didnt learn anything. Then over Winter break i did treehouse and learned more in a few weeks than that entire semester. Plus learning on my own is way more exciting

Ian Z
Ian Z
14,584 Points

Also, whats to stop a 11 or 12 year old from taking the initiative to learn web development. Couldnt they be making just as much money and competing for jobs with adults after a year or two of hard practice? it just seems weird

Codin - Codesmite
Codin - Codesmite
8,600 Points

Nothing is stopping someone that age from taking the initiative to do such a thing. From the age of 13 I learnt basic programming and graphics design, I was freelancing graphics design work to friends / family and by word of mouth before I even left school.

9 Answers

Hey Ian Z !

for what your parents are saying, it's normal, they are affraid and concerned about your futur and your career, dont blame them if they didnt below or born in a generation like ours, where all that makes sense, they have the right to be afraid and yell at you or whatever.

if you wanna go to college, you can actually, a degree would be a +, if you dont feel like to, then it remains true that you can get a job without it, try to keep it goign with your parents, conversation is the better language on earth, take it easy with them.,

if this can help , here are some true stories about people who had it all with the help of treehouse : http://teamtreehouse.com/stories

Cheers Ian

Codin - Codesmite
Codin - Codesmite
8,600 Points

I do not have any degrees and left school at 16, I am now 26. In the last 10 years I have worked in proffesonal IT as project leads in fortune 100 companies doing all sorts of roles ranging from disaster recovery, support, programming and all sorts.

What netted me all of these roles was my experience and knowledge, not a piece of paper saying I passed the basic requirements for a degree.

I am currently working in marketing and webdesign, I am working on my own proffesional portfolio and doing freelance work for clients and starting my own superniche design blog website to do affaliate marketing through.

I have no degrees or certifications in anything that I have done profesionaly.

I am currently planning on taking Zend PHP Developer exam and Zend Framework 1/2 exams for certification so my CV stands out for PHP developer roles that I am looking to move into.

Proffesional Experience / Portfolio > Certification in most IT related roles. It can't hurt to have both though as they compliment each other nicely.

But think of it this way out of these two people who would you most likely hire to create a website for you:

Person 1: Has a portfolio with over 20 proffesional websites currently in use by proffesional companies. No certifications or qualifications but has shown in their portfolio they are fully capable of using and implementing the marketing techniques and techinical skills required for your job.

Person 2: Has a portfolio of websites not used by anyone and just examples as they have just left college. Computer Science Degree, Marketing Degree, Colour Theory Degree, Web Design Degree.

Now myself I would pick Person 1 everytime and I have found companies will tend to hire me over the top of people with qualifications because my experience shows that I have done the work proffesionaly for someone else in the past so there is nothing stopping me workng for them doing the same thing and getting the ball rolling as soon as I start. Where as with a College Graduate without proffesional experience there is a likely chance they will require training on the job as they aren't used to using what they learnt in a text book in a real working environment.

Example: You need to restart server in live environment to perform windows updates.

College graduate with Windows Server Support degree would look at it from a text book point of view that they just need to restart the server to peform the patch as this is what they have learnt needs to be done to complete the task.

Someone without a degree that has had 1 years work experience in the roll previously will know it is not that simple as in a real working environment you are going to need to evaluate who uses the server, who is going to be affected by the server restarting, can the server be restarted, do you have change order permission to restart the server from the affected busineses, is there a set approved disaster recovery plan in place for if the server fails to start back up after the restart occurs etc etc.

Ideally the perfect candidate is person 3 that is not mentioned and that person has both certification and work experience like someone who has done an apprenticeship.

Ideally you can become Person 3 by either starting as Person 1 or 2, but I have always believed in the IT industry Person 1 stands much more of a chance of landing a job in the first place.

tl;dr: Your parents are neither wrong or right, it is mostly down to the individuals preference but I believe in my opinion and experience it is much easier to net a job in the IT industry with portfolio / experience rather then just a degree.

If you are serious about it though you should check out these 3 websites they have priceless real working information regarding webdesign, freelancing and web based businesses in general (Graphics Design Blender is my favourite).

http://www.graphicdesignblender.com/ http://www.1stwebdesigner.com/blog/ http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/

I would also think it depends what the job market is like where you live . At the moment where I am its a rather tough market to break into. So working on practice things like your portfolio is rather important and to fill this with meaningful content that you may have done for others as a favor

Konrad Pilch
Konrad Pilch
2,435 Points

You can allways start you own business . Ill write a bit more in a time coz im at college ;d

My two cents is... write to future employers. Ask them the questions that you need answered, and hear what they have to say. I do think its best to go to college, but the bottom line is, what do employers want. I would simply ask them and then you will know. It never hurts to ask.

Kaetlyn McCafferty
Kaetlyn McCafferty
12,193 Points

Here's another example to add to the list:

My husband, 26 years old, started learning code in his spare time about a year and a half ago. He's done online courses here on treehouse, codecademy, khan academy, etcetera, created a github profile and started contributing to things on that, built up a little portfolio, and took part in some online forums.

Well, one day, after looking at the portfolio he'd put together and the stuff he'd learned so far, after a year and a half of learning, he decided he was ready to start looking for work. This is exactly what happened: that afternoon, he updated his linkedIn to include new skills (PHP, JS, MySQL, etc), linked his GitHub account to it, uploaded a CV he put together earlier that day....and by the evening he had FOUR interviews lined up from various companies across the country. He didn't contact anyone - they all came to him.

Two days later he has landed his FIRST EVER JOB (not first ever job in web, but first EVER job PERIOD) making about $30/hour working remote updating a database and merging some servers together for a big company in Utah. He wakes up, gets coffee from downstairs, and commutes about ten feet to his desk and does what he loves, for a good wage.

Forget the degree, he had nothing (absolutely no prior work experience, no serious contacts, etc), just a bit of hard, self-driven work, a portfolio to prove knowledge and skills, and a bit of belief in himself. And this is just the beginning for him.

It absolutely can be done.

Vincent Jo
Vincent Jo
2,619 Points

Hi Kaetlyn,

I'm interested in learning more about your boyfriend's job. I would really like to work from home, and what your bf has got going on sounds really cool. Can you tell me a little more about what specific skill landed him that job? Would be great to know. Thanks.

Kaetlyn this would make a great success story on the Treehouse blog

Konrad Pilch
Konrad Pilch
2,435 Points

Hi ,

Ill tell you my story and my point of view.

Do you need go to college? what happen if you dont go ? will you be able to earn enough now to live college?

Im at college and im 18 in may. I missed 45% of college now and yesterday i had meeting of why my attendance is soo poor etc.. i told them i dont want to do the course and im not learning anything. They said i dont care. If i want to stay , i have to addend all lessons otherwise i would get kicked out which means i will have to pay for next year in any college. I cant afford that because i have braces which i will need pay for and well, my parents are the same.. finish college.. so i will not get support form them really and i will need go to a job in city.. so i just hope i can earn before may from my freelance. I make static webistes .

At college, the teachers have the degree, but most of them doesnt know the subjext so they cant teach it.. i could teach it but thye cant, but they haave a degree..

I learned a lot form treehouse . If you go to college or uni, it will just be like a prestige. If you went to Oxford University or Hayvard Uni (US best Uni and in the word), then i believe , the system they teach there, willl benefit anyone . Plus it will be great for prestige .

I would say, have a goal . YOu need to be sepcific. You dont need to look for a job , you can start your won business .

What im doing now, im learning PHP so i can move fast inside and then start my own little business. I want go to an agency to learn skill etc.. you will be a Junior web developer or app and they will teach you a lot.

What do you want to do ? does they teach that at college? You know that if you put hard work, no matter what, you will stand out from the rest of the crowd? success is made , luck is just and oportunity that you were preparing for . You can make good habbits, read books every day in the morning for 1h on web word, in your field to gain knowldege. e.g if you would sell, be in stocks, you will pick up book in that and read 1h every day form best sellers .

Its reallly up from you. You have believe in your self. If you say so , it will be. If you say your going to make a million pound website, you will. If you said its impossibile, than its going to be impossibile.

It takes time, and its hard work. But at the end , i think its easy because you just learning and miatakes are your friend. If you double them, then your going to succeed at faster rate.

I would say to make money online, either you come up with something that has a hit in cople of week or it takes at least cople of months to earn a living from it. Of course you can freelance which will help and make projects for 3k which will last, in my case, for like 3 months or more, i believe 5motnhs i think. So this 5 months of intense learning at home , rater then college you know ^^ pro :D

I want to get a job in an agency and drop out form college this summer. Then pay for a private coach that will teach me maths, physics, maybe english , science and programming if im goignt o have enough money.

That way i will boost my knowledge and everything and hopefuly in 2-3 years ill be ready to apply to Oxford.

You have to believe in your self. Who is going to beleiv in your self if not you? Hear what they say, take that , think about it , and decide what it means . e.g if somebody says that your ugly, you wont say i am , you look and you see , and then if you take it , then you shoudnt . Be positive and take no as not now or later. No is a bost , the best thing is if somebody tells you that you cant do it and you do it lol .

Like in my case, i dont care what people and my family say but im going to be a millionaire soon. They say no, you have to be special kid, you have to be genius eetc.. nope.. i mentioned above.

I believe in my self and im positive alll the time. I dont take No as an answer . No simply means not now or later . Like my family says no, then i know i will not be a milliionaire tomorrow but soon . I will know when im going to get close since i can track my own skill and knowledge .

HOpe this helps!

Konrad Pilch
Konrad Pilch
2,435 Points

Oh to add, with hard work you can get in minimum as 4 months a job from a agency/company. There were a guy from TTH that after 4 months of learning HTML/CSS and JS, he had enough skill . Like they say in the ad, as little as 6 months, that should be enough to get started. Maybe after a year , making a full stack developer with JS and PHP like facebook .

christopher walsh
christopher walsh
10,763 Points

don't spend a lifetime of unpayable student debt because you were to afraid to spend two years building skills and a portfolio to see what jobs a portfolio will get you!

think of a $20,000 or $30,000 salary from your portfolio vs. a $40,000 or $50,000 salary plus $100,000 student debt increasing by interest rates!

you keep what you get from a low or mid paying portfolio job. with a degree job, your salary is higher but your loans eat it away, so economically your always poor.

spend one or two years seeing how far you can get first. cause once you go to college, your life belongs to your student debt.

Ian Z
Ian Z
14,584 Points

devs dont really make as little as 20 to 30k do they? thats like Mcdonalds wages. Most people without degrees say they started off at 60 to 80k and then worked their way to six figures

like http://money.cnn.com/2013/05/21/news/economy/web-developer-job/

christopher walsh
christopher walsh
10,763 Points

"Most people without degrees say they started off at 60 to 80k and then worked their way to six figures"

then why are you making this post?

Ian Z
Ian Z
14,584 Points

because it seemed like bs

Codin - Codesmite
Codin - Codesmite
8,600 Points

email screenshot

This is a screenshot of my email inbox from last week showing all the developer roles I was sent mostly PHP developer and Zend Framework jobs, couple of laravel.

Only one of these requires a computer science degree and it only pays £35,000. The rest are ranging from £40,000 to £100,000 or more and none of them ask for a college degree, mostly they are looking for PHP Zend Framework certification which you can self learn and do the exam for about £100 - £140 with an online coupon which you can get all over the place. They key thing between all of them is LAMP(Linux apache mysql/mongodb php) experience, PHP and Zend Framework experience. None of them are intrested in a computer science degree at all.

I have a friend the moment in college doing a computer science degree, he has no clue about programming and his course is forcing him to use visual basic which none of their class plans to use, and honestly in my opinion there is barely any visual basic jobs out there, mostly Java, C++, C# etc.

My dad also used to teach computer science at university part time and he said that all of his students would fail in the real world once they leave and its purely because the curriculum he was being forced to teach them just wasnt relevant to anything they would need in an actual development role.

I'd also like to point out I'm not currently actively searching for a new role, all those e-mails are just recruiters hoping I am looking, probably finding me on LinkedIn, if I was actively looking for a role I would have hundreds of similiar developer job roles, there is no short supply of roles for developers we are literally gold dust in every industry the moment.

Ian Z
Ian Z
14,584 Points

Thanks, that is so cool!

Konrad Pilch
Konrad Pilch
2,435 Points

You can allways start of a freelancer and find a job and thinking to start about your own .

As you can make websites from 200-500 poudns and projects for 1.5k that will be enough to live in a room and learn more skill iproving on your self and then just level up . Think out side the box aswell .

Set goals . If you want to make a living , then thats okay. if you want more, than think outside the box.