A Computer Science Degree to Write Code

shoupn profile image Nick Shoup Originally published at fundamentalsofcode.com on ・3 min read

Do You Need a Computer Science Degree to Write Code Professionally?

No. And I will tell you why. If you can do the job, then it really depends upon your merit. Not what piece of paper you hold. Does that mean that a degree will hurt you? No, it most likely places you ahead of those without a degree in computer science, but I don't believe that is the only thing that will be used in the interview process when a company is looking to hire a candidate.

Take for example this article in Business Insider If Tim Cook is saying that is not what they are necessarily looking for when hiring a candidate, I don't believe this is a trend that is going to go away anytime soon. In fact, I believe that in many ways things like the resume and college degrees are going to mean much less than they do currently, let alone what they did 10, 15 or 20 years ago.

So What Do You Need To Write Code Professionally?

I personally hold two degrees. One in Environmental Science and the other is a certificate in Geographic Information Systems. I wouldn't consider either of those a degree that qualifies me to write code professionally. How did I get there then? I used my experience in my previous field and a lot of my spare time to find a niche to code in. I continued from there, to find ways to use Python to automate tasks at an internship that I took. This opportunity got me closer to my dream of being a software developer, and I was noticed by my hard work. I took one class in Python in my Geographic Information Systems certificate and another in C# which was pretty above my head at that point. These experiences gave me a taste of writing code, and I knew I wanted to continue.

So what do you need then? I want to outline a few things. These are skills that are not related to software and application development per se. In fact, I believe that these are going to be skills that will help you to succeed in just about any aspect of life.

Skills To Help You Succeed

Here are the things that I believe will help you in the long run to become a developer.

  • A Desire to learn new things - Without this, it makes learning to write code extremely difficult, let alone being pertinent.
  • An ability to find answers - In the age of the internet, there should be no excuse to not be able to find answers to your questions.
  • Able to Preserver - Things in software development will get hard, so how to deal with this is necessary. Otherwise, you'll stop before you've really begun.
  • Soft skills - I think these are really underestimated, remember you are attempting to get into a technical field, and the ability to communicate effectively and play well with others will help you in many cases, more than your technical skill.

Notice I didn't really bring up technical skills? I am not saying that those aren't important. I'm saying that those things are expected, and the above is how you get there and also leave an impact on those you work with.

Closing Thoughts

The desire to learn new things should be the first. A thirst for knowledge. Looking and finding answers to questions is also right up there because without the ability to find the right answer will leave you hampered.

Soft skills and perseverance will show those you work with your character. Who wants to work with a lazy asshole? I know I don't. If you keep these things in mind as you launch out on your coding endeavors you will find yourself much further along than you think. Think about it this way, if you run into a problem while working on something, how do you find your answer? What if the answer is not straightforward? What if you are working with someone on this, how do you approach the situation?

I've also written about the importance of you finding a niche in your software career2. You should also keep this in mind to help keep yourself from getting spread too thin, and also allow yourself to become more marketable.

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Nick Shoup


GIS Developer, outdoor enthusiast, cryptocurrency/blockchain enthusiast, father, and husband. I really just want to share my passion for coding with others.


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I agree in general.
You do not need a degree to write code.
You also do not need a mechanical engineering degree to be a maker. I wouldn't drive in a car designed by someone like this, though.

Here's the thing, you need academic knowledge to be in the deep end of the pool. Our luck is living in an age where you can build wonderful things without going there.

Here's a great site to teach yourself computer science.
Knowing what you don't know is as important as knowing what you do know.