Do You Need a Computer Science Degree to Be a Developer?

It’s the eternal debate. Is a degree really necessary nowadays?

The short answer: No.

The long one: It depends…

But let me explain.

First, what kind of developer do you want to be? A software developer, game developer, web, app, anything else?

There are many possibilities, but your journey can be quite similar either way.

I did actually study computer science. I got my bachelor’s and master’s degree and always wanted to become a game developer, for instance.

Then, in fact, I got a position in a game dev studio and after some experimenting with other industries, I’m now a back-end web developer. I love it, but I still like to make games by myself in my spare-time.

If I had to decide today, if I should go to the university again, I’m not sure if I would really do it.

The time after my graduation taught me one thing: There are so many more possibilities nowadays.

For starters, you could try to get an internship to get a glimpse at a certain job. Or if you’re already sure, you could apply for an apprenticeship.

Apart from that, there are many many boot camps where you can learn the craft of software development in a few months, instead of years.

If you're actually interested in a coding boot camp and need some options of financing, you might want to compare personal loans and find one that suits you best.

But let’s have look at the advantages of studying computer science.

You get an overall look. You may start with assembler, then learn C, C++, Java, maybe even C#. You also learn a lot of theory and math. You can also take other interesting courses like IT Security, Design Patterns, and so on to get deeper understandings.

But that’s nothing you couldn’t learn in another way.

For me, the computer science degree is mainly a ticket into the tech industry.

You’ve got a master’s degree? Great! You should already know this and that, but the most important fact is, that you are able to finish a project over several years! This one is crucial.

For several years, you were able to focus on this one thing, this one big project, and even finished it. A skill that everyone needs in that industry.

It shows that you have the patience and the persistence to focus on one project.

Big companies like Google, for instance, seem to absolutely want you to have a degree.

And not only any degree. You need perfect grades and you ideally studied at a famous university. But even then, they will test you with several coding interviews.

After graduation, it’s all about your experience and your references.

For me personally, it was a big advantage, that I published an indie game and made some online courses. People could actually have a look at my skills without the need to talk to me.

Fun fact, a company that invited me to an interview actually bought one of my courses and even finished it. That was a great feeling.

So having those public references can help tremendously. All the recruiters I have talked to, loved it, because, of course, that way it’s easier for them to convince potential employers for an interview!

And, c’mon, as an ambitious developer, you always have some unfinished side projects collecting dust on your hard disk. Finish them and show them to the world!

Just imagine: A side project you have done in school or during an internship at home becomes a huge success. The right employer who sees that doesn’t care about your degree. They already know that you’ve got what it takes!

So decide for yourself. A computer science degree is this ticket and maybe it also provides some security to a degree, if times look bad.

But it costs you several years and maybe also money upfront, unfortunately. But then again it can be some kind of investment into yourself and into your future.

Going another way might not be so secure, but you have the opportunity to get into the industry earlier and develop the skill you want without all that other stuff.

It really is up to you. Sorry!

One additional side note, though: If you want to become some kind of entrepreneur and build your own stuff, you don’t need any of this. Just do it.

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