In this article I am going to talk about how to learn computer programming and become an expert programmer without having formal college or computer science education. This will mean a lot to you if you have ever considered beginning a programming career only to realize that you just can not afford to invest the time or money it will cost you to get a formal computer science degree.
However, just bear in mind that you are not alone in wanting to start your computer programmer career by studying at home in your spare time. Actually a significant proportion of computer programmers are self taught. What everyone who has started a programming career outside the confines of college have in common is that they all focused on becoming as good as or even better than those who attended college. If they felt dis-advantaged in the beginning, they ignored that and focused on sharpening their technical skills until they became expert, highly skilled and competent programmers.
Do Employers Value A Computer Science Degree Over Raw Programming Talent?
Now, let's get one thing clear. Yes, there are several careers where your formal education or college degree will literally make or break your career. There are also several high paying careers where it's illegal to practice without going through a formal education and training system. However, computer programming is not like that at all. Computer programmers come from all works of life and all levels of education. There are computer programmers with PhDs and there are computer programmers with a high school diploma. There are computer programmers with backgrounds in arts, literature, music, law and even medicine. However, the one thing that programmers have in common is the ability to write program code using a programming language. This means that successful computer programmers have mastered the art of writing good quality code. So, whether you plan to study and become a computer programmer at home or get trained or enroll in a home study course or go to college, make it your goal to be the best software developer you can possibly be.
The answer to the question "do employers value computer science degrees over programming skills" is a NO. This is because it's quite possible to study programming at a good college and still not be a good software developer. So, when it comes to programming, your career is only as good as the code you write which levels the playing field for both computer science graduates and self-taught computer programmers.
Learning Computer Programming Is The Right Decision One of the best kept secrets in computer programming is that you can gain real-world programming experience without having even having a programming job. When I stumbled upon this secret more than 10 years ago, I realized that I could simply buy a computer or laptop, hook it up to the internet and learn any programming skill, language or technology and get a good job except if I wanted to work with mainframes, satellites and some expensive to buy enterprise software packages. I realized that even if I had to pay for some training packages, buy books or take programming courses, my total cost of training, total learning time and learning curve will be a fraction of what it will be if I opted for other high-paying careers including law, medicine and business management.
Yes, You Can Get A Computer Programming Job Without A College Degree
After more than 10 years, spent working several software development jobs, I have a lot of personal, intimate knowledge of how the industry works. I have worked with talented software programmers who got into programming with a high school education or dropped out of college to begin a programming career. So, I am always a bit surprised when someone that I am coaching or someone who runts into me on my blog at tells me they can not start their programming career because they do not have a college education or a computer science degree. If you are saying this to yourself, then you are just making excuses for not taking action. Let me tell you that from my experience as a software developer mentor, I have discovered that people make excuses to themselves because they are not ready to hold themselves accountable to results. So, they either complain about how old they are or how poor they are or they complain about the time it will take them to learn programming or complain that they cannot afford to go to college and study computer science or complain that programming textbooks are too expensive and they go on like that. Okay, I am telling you now that there is nothing stopping you from beginning your programming career if you really want to and it's not as hard as you think it is.
So, Where Does This Leave You? This leaves you without an excuse for not taking action. I am granting you the liberty to pursue your passion, your dream and your personal excellence to learn or master computer programming. As a software developer mentor, IT Career Coach and Contract Programmer, I have worked with people who overcame all sorts of personal situations, handicaps and obstacles to begin their software developer career. On my blog, I coach, mentor and train individuals who want to transition to a software developer career or become an expert computer programmer. From my personal experience and observation helping programmers from all over the world succeed in software development professions, your success in programming boils down to how skilled you are at software development and how much experience you have in solving real-world problems. If you gain a lot of practical programming skills and knowledge your software developer career will go into overdrive.
If you want to improve your programming skills and take your career to the next level, I recommend you read "the street smart guide to computer programmer careers" book which explains how to master computer programming in as little as 4 months. It will shave years off your learning curve by showing you how to learn programming fast, how to prepare your resume so you get noticed by hiring managers, how to prepare for and excel at technical job interviews so you get job offers more easily and how to consistently gain the kind of programming experience that keeps your career moving forward.
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