The findings of a Stack Overflow survey in 2023 revealed that almost 75% of developers have completed tertiary education, typically in computer-related disciplines such as Engineering, Science or Software Development.
Previously, a crucial requirement for companies seeking software engineers was a Bachelor’s degree or higher. These days, developers come from diverse backgrounds; some have completed a coding bootcamp, while others have acquired coding skills through self-learning.
Is it necessary to mandate a formal degree when hiring an experienced software developer who will play a significant role in driving our business growth?
The Importance of Pursuing Higher Education
Individuals who hold a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Computer Science, Software Engineering, or a relevant area, are well-equipped with the critical attributes needed to excel in their profession: expertise, knowledge, and dedication. These three aspects are essential for any successful programmer.
Enrolling in these programs enables students to gain theoretical knowledge as well as practical skills, allowing them to attain a comprehensive understanding and effectively address the difficulties arising from constantly evolving technology.
Most degree programmes offer a diverse range of courses that not only cover the core subject matter but also incorporate components from other fields such as writing and social sciences. These courses provide students with crucial skills essential for a successful life, including problem-solving, teamwork, creativity, and other higher-order cognitive abilities. This further helps students hone their competencies.
Potential Reasons to Forego a Formal Degree
In recent times, firms have been on the lookout for software engineers who possess proficiencies beyond what is traditionally obtained with an undergraduate degree. These aptitudes can be attained through self-directed learning or formal training.
There is an ongoing debate in the IT arena about the necessity of formal education for individuals looking to enter a career in software development. A section of professionals contends that the theoretical knowledge acquired in these courses may not always translate easily into practical application. They suggest that there are alternative and more affordable routes for gaining the required practical expertise. This viewpoint is worth considering.
Moreover, numerous accomplished software engineers have degrees in fields that are unrelated to their line of work.
It is crucial to take into account the opposing viewpoint as well, which suggests that technological progress takes place at a breakneck pace. Although individuals who majored in computer science may be adept at adapting and acquiring new skills fast, they may have dedicated a significant amount of time developing skills that are no longer cutting-edge. As a result, when selecting a business leader, it may be judicious to consider someone who has proven their ability to acquire new skills quickly and independently, irrespective of their educational background.
There is a potential that businesses can reduce costs by hiring candidates without a college degree, as they may not need to provide the same level of remuneration offered to a degree holder.
Can a Coding Bootcamp Suffice?
As of late, coding bootcamps have gained popularity as a substitute for conventional universities and higher education institutions. Compared to undergraduate programmes, these courses are shorter in duration and offer more economical options for learners.
Businesses can consider bootcamps as a sensible investment option since statistics show that 74-90% of bootcamp graduates secure jobs in their field within six months.
Individuals who can complete a coding bootcamp within a short duration exhibit the capacity to swiftly comprehend intricate concepts. This showcases their motivation, independence, and eagerness to learn, making them attractive candidates. However, this also indicates that they may have lesser experience than other applicants, since there is a shorter track record of their adaptability to new technologies and fewer hours spent honing their practical abilities.
Advice for Hiring a Programmer
While a Bachelor’s degree may not be necessary for specific software development positions, what other credentials do you deem critical? Regardless, here are some critical skills to seek when evaluating a prospective employee.
Ability to Learn Independently
It is evident that software and technology are constantly evolving, and keeping up with the demands of the profession can be challenging. To evaluate a candidate’s ability to adjust and learn autonomously, a useful approach is to inquire about their awareness and response to the updates in the software development industry.
A coding test may be conducted by an in-house expert in software development to evaluate the candidate’s reaction to coding challenges.
Acquiring proficiency in a distinct software development area can be advantageous for a candidate. This signifies a comprehensive comprehension of the subject in question, as well as skill mastery in the field.
It is strongly advised that your organisation employs personnel with pertinent specialized expertise. Having a cybersecurity specialist on hand to safeguard your company, its systems, and employees from cybercrime is priceless.
Ability to Collaborate
Collaboration is crucial to software development. Even if the applicant is the sole software engineer in the team, they must have the capability to work effectively with other specialists to deliver a top-notch product. To evaluate their collaboration skills, you may want to inquire about instances in which they had to collaborate with others to achieve a common goal.
Having a Strong Investment Portfolio
A portfolio can be utilised to display a candidate’s abilities and exhibit their expertise, even if they lack a degree. This could be a significant aspect when evaluating their cultural and professional suitability for the organisation. By examining their portfolio, it is feasible to obtain an understanding of their technical abilities, regardless of whether the projects were performed independently or for a former employer.
Being a part of a development team does not always necessitate holding a higher education degree. Both sides of the debate have valid arguments. Typically, software engineers do possess a degree, although this criterion is no longer strictly enforced in several domains. Self-taught programmers are finding employment in large IT firms and startups with greater frequency.