Do you really need a degree to build a career in IT?

September 6, 2019
5 mins

According to PayScale, the current average salary for IT specialists is $56,333. And that’s only an average result.

In reality, they tend to make more. Deloitte pays an average salary of $122K to its IT specialists, and the top specialists make $211K. 

The difference is huge.

What creates that difference? It’s experience, talent, and hard work. Could it be the degree, too?

The IT degree is not necessarily a requirement for a job in the sector. You can land a great job if you have an impressive portfolio and you get attention with your resume.

You can learn a lot through practice and online resources. HackerEarth gives you an impressive knowledge base to start with.

Does this mean that you should ditch the idea of getting a formal education in Information Technology? Is it wiser to save all the money that you’d spend on school and focus on gaining practical skills instead? 

Let’s see.

The benefits of skipping the degree

Yes, there are actual benefits of not going to school for the sake of getting an IT education. Of course, universities will try to convince you otherwise.

Their goal is to attract as many applicants as possible. Being more competitive allows them to raise their prices even further. 

But you know better than that. 

    • Skipping the degree saves you a lot of money!

      On an average, a single year at a private school costs $32,410 for tuition and fees only. When you add all the other fees and living expenses, you can easily spend up to $50K. Four years of education at a private university will cost at least $200K.

      Public schools are more affordable. On average, you pay $9,410 for tuition and fees per year. 

      Since there’s an option to take IT courses, you can still gain relevant knowledge without spending that much money. 

    • School takes a lot of time…and nerves

      Before you reach the point of earning that degree, you’ll spend four years at school. That’s plenty of time that you could otherwise spend in actually working in the IT sector.

      Keep in mind that trends occur and evolve rapidly in the IT sector. What you learn during the first year at school may be irrelevant by the time you graduate. Well okay, each skill you gain is relevant in one way or another but even if you go to school, you must still devote time in actual practice.

      You’ll develop your own projects after school hours and probably do some freelance work to cover your living expenses. 

      How will you do that when you have so much studying to do and so many assignments to finish?

      For most students, the solution is to hire Best Essays for assignments that they don’t consider relevant to their career in IT.

      These include essays, research papers, and all sorts of projects for various courses. This means spending even more money, which you could save if you don’t go to school.

    • You don’t really need school to learn programming and get a job

      Most students decide to go to school because they don’t know anything about programming and they have no idea where to start.

      When you realize that you can take progressive courses and engage in practice through HackerEarth, what’s the point of school?

      You’re getting a relevant education for a fraction of the price and time. This platform also allows you to build a portfolio, which potential employers will appreciate. 

      What about potential employers? Won’t they require a degree? 

      No. 

      Google, Apple, IBM, Bank of America, and many other companies do not require job applicants to have degrees. When you apply for a job in some of those companies, they don’t ask about your degree.

      They definitely ask about your skills, which you don’t necessarily develop at school. They want you to showcase a portfolio that proves your knowledge and skills. Your degree doesn’t. 

The benefits of getting a degree in IT

If school is so bad, then why do so many people go there? Because it’s also good!

When you take the direction of formal education toward a career in IT, you’ll gain important advantages. Let’s see:

      • You might earn more money if you earn a degree

        Yes; a school degree costs a lot of money. But it may pay off. The stats are clear—degree holders make more money than those who don’t have formal education. 

        The degree may make you eligible to apply for higher positions on the career ladder, but in the IT industry that’s not an obligatory rule for all companies. 

      • School is great for networking

        Where did Larry Page and Sergey Brin meet? At Stanford University. Page was pursuing a Ph.D. in computer science and Brin was showing him around campus. 

        If these two great minds felt the need to pursue higher education, it has to mean something. 

        Don’t you think?

        This example proves that school is perfect for networking. You meet like-minded creatives who may become skilled professionals in the future. Who knows; maybe you and some of your friends will start the next big company from a garage. 

      • The degree gets you noticed during the job hunting process

        When you apply for a job and mention the degree in your resume, you have an edge over other candidates who may have the skills and an IT certificate but not a degree. If you have a degree, recruiters see you as someone who was serious enough to invest money, time, and a lot of effort in the program you completed. 

        As for the practical knowledge, you’ll still gain it throughout the school. And you’ll show it through your resume when you apply for a job. But this means that in addition to taking school courses, you need to take online courses and practice a lot. That’s more important than your GPA during the hiring process. 

      • You gain a variety of skills

        Yes, you’ll take up courses such as psychology, literature, art, and others that are not closely related to IT. But you know what? Everything will come together at one point. You’ll realize that knowledge and skills make you complete. You’ll find different ways to implement them all in your work as an IT specialist. 

Is the degree necessary?

No, a degree is not necessary for pursuing a career in the IT sector. 

In some cases, it may be counterproductive, even. There are many students who focus too much on school. Education demands their full attention.

Between classes, assignments, extracurricular, and social life, they have very little time to focus on practicing their skills.

So they lose pace with the latest trends in the IT sector and expect the professors to teach them everything they need to know. 

But in some situations a degree is very helpful. If you can balance between school responsibilities and your personal practice as a future IT pro, you’ll gain the best of both worlds.

You’ll take on freelancing gigs and you’ll be working on personal projects while studying at the same time.

By the time you get a degree, you’ll be a skilled and educated professional who’s ready to target the big salaries in the IT sector. 

Whatever decision you make, IT careers are all about the skills and practice; not about grades. 

 

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About the Author

Silvia Woolard
Silvia Woolard is a freelance writer and a passionate cinephile from Phoenix. She mostly writes in topics of education and popular psychology. Follow Silvia on her Twitter! @SilviaWoolard

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