re: Choosing a job title (for people who code) VIEW POST


For me, I'm less interested in the title than the job, but I've never been entirely comfortable with calling myself an "engineer" without the education/certification requirements that someone such as a "civil engineer" or "electrical engineer" would typically have. Therefore, even though my current job title is Software Engineer, as a self-taught programmer with no relevant degree or certification, I call myself a Software Developer, unless I'm specifically referring to my job title for some reason. As always, IMHO, and your mileage may vary.


That's a reasonable viewpoint and one I've heard a few times. It seems like most people see the difference between developer and engineer as trivial. The market value is similar, too. So I doubt you'll ever have reason to regret not calling yourself an engineer.

But putting all that aside, I don't think there's any need for you to devalue yourself permanently because you don't have a college degree; once you've got a few years of experience and done some heavy reading in your field, your knowledge gaps are no more significant than anyone's. I'm sure you've interacted with a few certified and degree-bearing developers who are totally clueless.

It can be an awkward thing to explain, though. Once at a family get-together, when I mentioned that I was working as a programmer, my aunt looked at me funny and said, "But you're just making that up, aren't you? You're not really a programmer?" She knew that I didn't have a CS degree, so I guess her natural assumption was that I was pulling a Frank Abagnale and bluffing my way into the field. No, I'm not making it up, I'm rather competent. But people tend to see Computer Science as something far more scholastic than it really is.


Don't worry, I've been in the IT industry in one capacity or another for decades now, though only in the last several years as a full-time software developer|engineer|programmer, so I'm coping just fine. I even have a college degree -- but it's a bachelor of fine arts in music education, so go figure. :)

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