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Discussion on: Can you become a successful software developer without a CS degree? My opinion

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miguelmj profile image
MiguelMJ

Take into account I didn't say that you can't access the knowledge by any other means. I said you can also buy the textbooks and learn from them. But this has two disadvantages difficult to overcome:

  • There's a lot of content and a lot of sources that complement each other, so the amount of time to review "the canon" would be disproportionate, and more if you try to keep it updated.
  • You can't prove theoretical knowledge like you do with practical knowledge. As a software developer, I can learn to program, work in projects to showcase, contribute to open source, etc. But the only way to make my theoretical knowledge recognizable is by passing examinations on the topic (and thus getting a degree).

So to answer your question, I'd say that what Universities provide is:

  • Curated content made by the University from the textbooks contents.
  • (In some cases, access to the research done by the professors).
  • Access to examinations that prove your theoretical knowledge.

Don't get me wrong, I won't say that the University system is definitive and perfect. There is a lot of things that the University should change, because they don't always do their work well, but that's another topic and something that the next generations have to sort out. Right now, this is what we have.

I hope I don't sound rude, it's not my intention. Thank you for making this conversation possible!

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anfibiacreativa profile image
Natalia Venditto Author • Edited

You are not being rude at all. You are expressing your opinion, and that's perfectly fine!

So I agree to this, because that was one of my points:
" There's a lot of content and a lot of sources that complement each other, so the amount of time to review "the canon" would be disproportionate, and more if you try to keep it updated.

And I say:
"... have access to a tutor or professor, to dissipate their doubts and help them apply the newly learned concepts
... do not need to spend personal time finding the right learning resources, since they're provided"

Which is another way to put it.

I am not very sure I agree with this part,

"You can't prove theoretical knowledge like you do with practical knowledge. As a software developer, I can learn to program, work in projects to showcase, contribute to open source, etc. But the only way to make my theoretical knowledge recognizable is by passing examinations on the topic (and thus getting a degree)."

because out of not having a CS degree, my way of demonstrating that I have knowledge, is practical and from experience. So I can reference many clients and projects that are in production, etc.

Of course, that is very difficult for other applications of computer science, since it will be extremely difficult to put a satellite in orbit without entry to a project, tools, the satellite, the thousands (millions!) of euros of fuel to launch it... So it is highly unlikely to get past the gate without a CS degree, and only via professional experience, there.

But maybe let's agree to this: web development is a part of software engineering, which is a part of computer sciences. Ergo, you absolutely can become a software developer without a degree, and if you put enough effort and dedication, you can be very successful.

For anything else, taking another path that is not the University, will be extremely hard.

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miguelmj profile image
MiguelMJ

Thanks, Natalia.
"because out of not having a CS degree, my way of demonstrating that I have knowledge, is practical and from experience. So I can reference many clients and projects that are in production, etc."
This is totally valid with software development. But not about theoretical knowledge that has no direct applications on the market and has interest only for research (this happens with a lot of mathematical knowledge). This is what I meant before with the difference between software development and computer science.

But, as you say, for software development that is not required. A degree doesn't magically improve your code quality, only experience and dedication. I totally agree with that. University might be the better path for a scientific career, but it is far from the best option to become a successful developer.

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anfibiacreativa profile image
Natalia Venditto Author

Thank you for the amazing conversation! I wish the internet was like this, all the time. 🤝

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miguelmj profile image
MiguelMJ

It's been really cool and nice. ¡Gracias!

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