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Do I need to go to Uni to get a job as a Junior C# coder?

I'm 26 and have been working in Games (Production) for 6 years and I am thinking of a change, I've had exposure to VB6, VBA, HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript over the past few years and did a web design NCFE at College, but other than that, nothing else!

I'm teaching myself C# at the moment with books and I was wondering 'how much' I need to learn and also how I can improve my chances of getting a programming job!

Am I a late started to learn coding? (I know many people who started at a very young age!)

Thanks for the help :)


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As a "Senior Developer" in the UK, without a degree (of any kind), you can guess my thoughts. –  Oded Dec 29 '10 at 20:27
@Oded similarly I'm a senior developer with a degree in something else, but I do suspect that it was easier to get into programming with no degree/ the wrong degree when we were starting out (I'm guessing last millennium?) –  jk. Nov 10 '11 at 10:03
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8 Answers 8

up vote 27 down vote accepted

Absolutely not.

Will it help? Of course. Is it required? No.

With your experience you shouldn't have too much of a problem getting a junior level position. As with all things, your potential employers need to know that you can get the job done. You may need to show them some of the work you've done (maybe an open source contribution? or something else you've created?), but you'll still be able to land a position if you can do the job.

Actually for many places here they are not allowed to hire you if you dont have a degree due to policy of their corp (or sometimes just that companys policy). Other places will filter resumes so if none is mention or unfinished are immediately discarded. So if you live in my area only 10% of the total jobs are available. The quality of those jobs are not clear –  acidzombie24 Nov 10 '11 at 6:41
Great Answer! I'd like to add that there're ways of getting a degree in Computer Science without ever stepping in a physical class room. Online Universities offer Undergraduate, Graduate and Doctoral programs all over the world. Athabasca University comes in mind for example. –  Roman Mik yesterday
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Although no degree is required to become a Junior Programmer, you will later realize that you're missing something, a knowledge that gives you an opportunity to become a Senior Programmer, and this is Computer Science. No, it doesn't mean that you have to go back to the uni, and study CS, but it will most definitely force you to open Cormen's Introduction to Algorithms, etc, which is the same as taking the courses in CS, but harder, since noone teaches you.

Personally I dropped my work in order to get my MsC in CS, and I don't regret.

P.S. I've got a better job now :)

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James Bach would tell you NOOOOOOO. He's written a book about this topic too The Voyage of a Buccaneer-Scholar. There's an interesting Hanselminutes interview here where he talks a bit how he accomplished everything without a degree.

Also, I can speak for myself as I am too, a non-degree Junior Programmer, but I do plan on going back to finish my degree later on.

+1 only for your future plans –  Sorantis Dec 30 '10 at 0:18
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I've known CMMi level 5 companies where people with professional degrees (sometimes masters) work along with people with 1 year of formal education on programming.

However, this people wont get to senior developer position until they get a professional degree. Also, their pay check will always be smaller than the paycheck that professionals gets for the same work.

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Don't be insecure about your abilities. You already have exposure to six languages and the initiative to teach yourself. Look at Jamie Zawinski. One of the most successful programmers ever, no degree and hardly any formal education. Sure, the world's different now, but you should concentrate on your skillset and you'll find somebody that wants to hire you if you show your motivated.

Jwz was very talented. Education Is relevant for those less talented. –  user1249 Dec 7 '11 at 7:47
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University is a place where you can meet other people with same interesting, different age and experience. University gives you opportunities to learn with them and gain experience together (you can always move somewhere near to any university ;)).

What are advantages of studying?

Free access to huge libraries, people are forced to learn and do some intellectual job, email address to your lecturer, who can give contact to other people/students, stuff and place to learn (like room of silence in library, computer room etc.).

Studying is not necessary, but it gives you opportunities, maybe not always for good job, but for great knowledge.

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Most software companies will care more about your knowledge than the degree. However, larger companies do use a degree as a filtering criteria, since they screen ten of thousands of resumes.

Having said this, as long as you know your stuff and are willing to continue learning, a lack of degree will not prevent you from having an excellent and fulfilling career as a software developer.

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Have you talked to a someone looking for a C# developer lately? There is enough demand at the moment that it is fairly easy to bypass the HR filters, even at larger corporations (with a few exceptions). Keep learning, build some projects, and fluff your resume as much as possible without lying. Your first job might be something boring at a bank, but put in a couple years there and the CS degree will not matter at all. At the end of the day, it is not about credentials or experience (those help), but about being able to confidently walk into a business and say something along the lines of "I am passionate about what I do, I have a track record of success, and I can make/save you money". If that is not what a prospective company is looking for, trust me, you are better off somewhere else.

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