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Bachelor's Degree: An Unnecessary Path To a Tech Job 287

Posted by samzenpus
from the just-a-piece-of-paper dept.
dcblogs (1096431) writes "A study of New York City's tech workforce found that 44% of jobs in the city's 'tech ecosystem,' or 128,000 jobs, 'are accessible' to people without a Bachelor's degree. This eco-system includes both tech specific jobs and those jobs supported by tech. For instance, a technology specific job that doesn't require a Bachelor's degree might be a computer user support specialist, earning $28.80 an hour, according to this study. Tech industry jobs that do not require a four-year degree and may only need on-the-job training include customer services representatives, at $18.50 an hour, telecom line installer, $37.60 an hour, and sales representatives, $33.60 an hour. The study did not look at 'who is actually sitting in those jobs and whether people are under-employed,' said Kate Wittels, a director at HR&A Advisors, a real-estate and economic-development consulting firm, and report author.. Many people in the 'accessible' non-degree jobs may indeed have degrees. For instance. About 75% of the 25 employees who work at New York Computer Help in Manhattan have a Bachelor's degree. Of those with Bachelor's degrees, about half have IT-related degrees."
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Bachelor's Degree: An Unnecessary Path To a Tech Job

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  • So basically... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by beelsebob (529313) on Monday April 14, 2014 @09:18AM (#46747063)

    If you want to earn 1/3 as much as an engineer, and barely enough to survive in NYC, then don't get a degree. Otherwise, go and fucking learn something.

    • Re:So basically... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 14, 2014 @09:38AM (#46747291)

      If you want to earn 1/3 as much as an engineer, and barely enough to survive in NYC, then don't get a degree.

      *sigh*

      If someone is looking at college as something that will help them get a job or make more money, then they shouldn't fucking be in college to begin with. Education is meant to better your understanding of the world and everything around you. We need *fewer* people going to college and university, because a lot of them have a "I just want to get a job/make money!" mentality, and that makes colleges and universities lower standards in an effort to get money from the people who want degrees.

      Otherwise, go and fucking learn something.

      You can learn plenty without spending tons of money, especially in the information age. As someone who has a degree, it's absolutely appalling that hordes of people who shouldn't be in college or university are causing standards to drop. This 'Everybody's gotta go to college!' mentality needs to die, and fast.

      • Re:So basically... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by St├ęphane V (3594053) on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:06AM (#46747575) Homepage
        Absolutely true. It makes sense if you want to go in college or university is should be for academic reasons only and not for getting a higher pay. But lets be honest here, people who go to university have a higher chance of getting a higher pay because of their efforts and work they've done to get their diploma at the end. Would you accept working with someone who has the same pay as you do but he don't have a university diploma but has the same knowledge that you do... To be honest and truthful, I don't think a lot of people would accept that.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Would you accept working with someone who has the same pay as you do but he don't have a university diploma but has the same knowledge that you do... To be honest and truthful, I don't think a lot of people would accept that.

          Why? Would the idea that your non-degree earning colleague managed to learn just as much as you without wasting 4 years of their life and tens of thousands of dollars? Do you feel the need to tell yourself you're smart and special because you attended college, and working with someone

        • by digsbo (1292334)
          In my experience, it has more to do with your ability to bargain versus your similarly skilled peers. In my case, I was able to put a VP over a barrel, and get a bigger raise than peers w/ MS degrees when I only had my high school diploma. And, I'll admit, most of them were much better developers than I am. I was able to do this because I had a specific tactical advantage, and pressed very hard, well into the area where losing my job was a possibility. It worked out for me that time. Risk tolerance is proba
      • by Drethon (1445051)
        I did my Bachelor's degree just for the piece of paper to start a career. Since then I found most of the real learning happens after college, both on the job and on my own time. I then went back for a Master's degree to separate myself from the average engineer. However I think the most important thing I learned from going back to school is I didn't need to go back. I keep looking at taking classes since I last graduated and keep deciding I can learn those topics on my own just fine.
      • Re:So basically... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday April 14, 2014 @11:08AM (#46748173) Homepage

        Well I think the elephant in the room is that we need a lesser focus on "higher education" and a greater focus on "trade schools". In fact, that's what's happening already, in a half-assed way, when people have the mentality "I just want to get a job/make money!" They're thinking of our colleges and universities as trade schools, and those schools are, to some extent, setting themselves up to be trade schools.

        The only real problem that I see with all of this is that we can't make up our minds what we want. Lots of people want to go to schools that will teach them a trade that will make money, but call it a "trade school" and those same people think that it's beneath them, that it's low-class. They don't like learning a broad spectrum of generalized and abstract concepts, but they've been taught that either you go to college, or you should work the cash register at a fast-food restaurant-- there's no middle ground. There are professions like plumbing, which make decent money but people think are for stupid low-class people, and then professions like IT support which are considered more "professional" though it often amounts to similar work-- you're a mr. fix-it working with computers rather than pipes.

        It's in coherent.

        Meanwhile, colleges are actually more focused on research dollars, sports teams, and frat parties than providing either a "higher education" or a "trade education", all of which confuses these issues even more. I'm of the opinion that these things impede each other, and we need to begin to separate them back out. Young people who have no interest in studying anything and only want to party should go to cities and communities where they can get drunk and messy, instead of coupling that experience with "education". We should have minor league sports teams which have no college association, and let promising young athletes get jobs in those leagues instead of taking sham courses in big universities. We should look at how we fund and handle research and see if so much of it should be taking place in universities. We develop respectable trade schools for young people to learn a trade (or for older people to retrain in a different trade) for instances where people are looking for practical employable skills rather than abstract knowledge.

        All of these things are achievable if only we could get our collective heads out of our asses. Unfortunately, I have very little faith in humanity being able to do that sort of thing.

      • by thoth (7907)

        This 'Everybody's gotta go to college!' mentality needs to die, and fast.

        Yes... but at the hiring authority of corporations first. Whatever credentials they demand, job seekers must provide.

    • Exactly!

      All the examples are relatively low-paying jobs, not the high-paying jobs that everyone says tech is great for.

    • by jcr (53032)

      If you want to earn 1/3 as much as an engineer, and barely enough to survive in NYC, then don't get a degree.

      Speak for yourself. I never got a degree, and I did fine in NYC back in my Wall Street days.

      -jcr

  • CSci degrees, at nearly every university in the US, are programming degrees. If you aspire to do tech support (or really much of anything other than programming) you are wasting your time with a CSci degree. Don't get me wrong, it is a very useful degree to have, but it is not generally a path towards doing computer support (nor should it be).

    Now, that said, a lot of support techs clearly would benefit from more formal schooling - but it could be done in a less cost and time consuming manner than a 4 year degree.
    • Having said that, one specialty in programming and Software Engineering would benefit greatly from CSci students having some experience with help desk work: User Interface Design.

      Everything I know about User Interface Design, I learned in my first two professional jobs where I had direct contact with end users.

      • Unless a programmer is working for a very large company, there's a good chance they're in pretty direct contact with their users.

        Throwing someone into contact with users doesn't help someone become good at UX. Just look at the multitude of Open Source projects -- most of them interact directly with users and still end up with pretty atrocious UX that is designed based on the programmer's workflow and how easy it is to implement.

        You did something wrong. You need to do step A, B, C, and you skipped over B!

        Every time I hear this from a developer, I cringe. Good UX is a choice. You can

    • by kthreadd (1558445)

      Most of them maybe, but the really good ones are not that. Computing science has very little to do with programming.

      • by Bacon Bits (926911) on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:22AM (#46747741)

        I agree. Using the term "Computer Science" for what most degree programs teach is purely the result of the growth of the industry. 70 years ago you couldn't get a Computer Science degree. 50 years ago, you could get a Computer Science degree without ever having used an actual computer. 30 years ago, the only degree in computing you could get was Computer Science, and it encompassed the whole of the field. 20 years ago, Computer Science began to mean "software" instead of Electrical Engineering's "hardware". 10 years ago, the field was so broad, so diverse, and encompassed so many disparate technologies that required significant specialization that you could get a specialization certificate on your CS degree. Today, you can get a 4 year Bachelor's in any number of fields including Information Technology (sysadmin, netadmin), Information Systems (DBA, Systems Analysis), Information Management (management for IT), Software Engineering (web design, application programming). Computer Science is again a theoretical area of research and development on the theory of computers. All these other fields born from this CS research once again free it to be what it once was: mathematicians and logicians playing with number machines.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      That's exactly the point of the article.

      Of course, the minimum necessary requirements are actually irrelevant in a competitive environment where there are a surplus of over-qualified people.

    • There exists people who "aspire to do tech support"?

      • by s.petry (762400)
        Are you trying to imply that everyone working in IT should be a programmer or business person? Maybe you were speaking in sarcasm and forgot a modifier to let people know?
  • Misleading title (Score:5, Informative)

    by cultiv8 (1660093) on Monday April 14, 2014 @09:23AM (#46747123) Homepage
    From page 43 of the actual report [hraadvisors.com] (and not a report of a report of the report):

    While across the ecosystem, 44% of jobs do not require a Bachelor’s degree, the majority of tech jobs in tech industries require some degree of education. With a Bachelor’s degree, and in some cases, an Associate’s degree, many opportunities exist within the New York City tech ecosystem.

  • Yeah right. Anyone who has a laptop, can read the web for code samples and post on forums?
  • Degree (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SJHillman (1966756) on Monday April 14, 2014 @09:33AM (#46747229)

    I got a Bachelors in Network Administration from a state school. It wasn't required for my current job, but it certainly helped get me noticed and hired. Beyond that, the main advantage of the degree was having hands-on experience with Cisco gear and server OSes in a simulated production environment. Of course, you could find a training course that does that for much cheaper and without the bullshit lib arts requirements. In the end, I'd say it was worth it because I was able to get it at a reputable state school and my ending loans were about 2/3rds of my first year's salary, which wasn't bad at all. I certainly wouldn't have paid private school tuition for it.

  • In our contemporary world, you can do two things at university: gain knowledge by studying and acquire prestige by graduating. Some people are there for the first, others for the second. For the people who are there for the second reason the degree is nothing more than a leg-up in the hiring process afterwards. This have created a large number of college educated people who, for the purposes of their jobs, don't need to be. The fact that there exist a large number of jobs that don't require a college degree

    • by rwhamann (598229)
      Why can't it be both? I needed the Bachelor's to get my commission in the Air Force, but I chose my classes to maximize utility. Organizational communications met a humanities/SS credit requirement, but also made me a better officer and manager than Early American Hobo Lit would have.
  • by TRRosen (720617) on Monday April 14, 2014 @09:34AM (#46747241)

    If only HR managers understood this or knew that computer science has nothing to do with computers. The entire computer industry was built by college dropouts and is ruled by technology that changes faster then a 4 year degree. Hire people that understand technology and can learn new tech on the run. Degrees are meaningless in tech and are becoming more so in all areas.

    • by Hodr (219920)

      Hire people that understand technology and can learn new tech on the run. Degrees are meaningless in tech and are becoming more so in all areas.

      So, how do you propose to do this if those people do not have a considerable body of experience?

      Will everyone have to work on some open source project while flipping burgers for years to prove their worth?

    • Re:If only (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:23AM (#46747759)

      That's like a driver saying auto mechanics has nothing to do with his job. You might not understand how computer science influences everything you're doing on your job which is probably why your search algorithm results always suck. Just because there are some glaring stellar examples of guys dropping out and making boatloads doesn't make that best path to success. The average IT guy is...average! He's not some 160 IQ natural born leader with a business sense. This Slashdot meme of crapping on formal education needs to stop. Yes, lots of people can drop out or never go to college and make a good living churning out web pages or iPhone apps, but that's not the best path to take.

      The best thing for anyone entering the field to do is get a 4 year degree and get the formal education you'll never get on your own. I say that as a guy in the industry for about 12 years who went *back* and finished my degree. I sat through that last 2 years in class almost every day thinking of coding/design errors I'd made in the past based on what I was taught.

    • by rwhamann (598229)
      Today's tech is still built upon the foundations of the same theories. Even though I've been programming since 8th grade and fiddling with stuff on my own, so much made more sense after I took AA, Data Structures, OS, CA, etc. Computer Science is still applicable.
    • If only HR managers understood this or knew that computer science has nothing to do with computers. The entire computer industry was built by college dropouts and is ruled by technology that changes faster then a 4 year degree. Hire people that understand technology and can learn new tech on the run. Degrees are meaningless in tech and are becoming more so in all areas.

      Degrees are not meaningless in Tech. They may be in some specific low end tech jobs, but that's a different question. The purpose of university is to teach you how to learn, communicate with others, and how to write. Granted, a large number of people in the tech world have enough natural curiosity to learn on their own without being taught. However, they miss the breadth of knowledge that a college graduate is exposed to (assuming that the college graduate was actually there to learn and not just party)

    • by ZeroPly (881915)
      No, the useless timewasters like Facebook were built by college dropouts. Vint Cerf has a PhD. Brian Kernighan has a PhD. Dennis Ritchie had a PhD. Bruce Schneier has an MS in computer science. The people who drop out tend to build toys for the consumers. The guys who stay in academia build foundations.
  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@l y n x . b c .ca> on Monday April 14, 2014 @09:35AM (#46747249) Journal

    But honestly, the degree at least helps you get your foot in the door long enough that they may at least be willing to talk to you.

    When you are competing with dozens of people for the same job, and if many of them have a degree and you do not, regardless of your actual skill or talent, in my experience it's unfortunately true that the employer probably won't look at your resume any longer than it takes to throw it in the round file.

    That said... I've also known people who have lied about their degree in order to get a job... and it hasn't ever worked out for them very well.

    It's time consuming, it's expensive, and it'll put you in debt for years to come as you work like an ass to pay it off... but as one who's travelled both roads, I can only say that it's worth it.

    • by mlts (1038732) on Monday April 14, 2014 @09:47AM (#46747385)

      In my experience, you won't get an HR person's attention unless you have the alphabet soup after your name. A bachelor's gets the resume out of the round file. A MCSE/CCIE/RHCE gets it scheduled. A CISSP or TS-SCI clearance gets it to the tech guys to be interviewed. In fact, when I got out of college, most interviews went like this:

      Interviewer: "Do you have a CISSP or TS-SCI? No? Next in line, please."

      It really didn't matter about experience... one could be clueless in IT but have a MCSE, and be further along than someone who had many years in the field, but didn't have the cert.

      • Quit looking for the government hand out job. I had a TS-SIOP. Know how many times I used it in the military? Zero. Know how many interviews I went on where they required it? Zero. How much money have I lost in process? Tens of thousands. How much happier am I not to be working with the drudges of society that is the technical people with a security clearance and supporting the military-industrial complex? Immeasurable.

        If you want a job at a place that values passing tests and towing the line,
        • by mlts (1038732)

          The ironic thing, most of the places were private companies without a government contract. They wanted the security clearance because someone else did the vetting for them.

          It isn't how I like to be, but just what narrow piece I saw after graduating college. Without the alphabet soup, you never had a chance of passing the first rounds.

  • That's not my experience in the "tech industry". Every job I've had - Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Florida, Tennessee - have required a BS at minimum. I work with people who don't have a degree, and they are in "tech" positions that pay less and have fewer advancement options.

    I guess "Tier One Help Desk" would meet the articles criteria, but who would want to do that job for the rest of your life?

    In fact, now that I think about it, TFA is 180 from my experience, not only is higher education critically importa

    • by TheCarp (96830)

      I know a number of people, including myself, who started at jobs like that with no degree and did not get stuck as tier one support all their life. Lots of tech jobs claim to require a degree but don't really.

      The thing is you have to just realize that "bachelors degree" really is shorthand for "Degree, or reasonable experience". If you don't have experience, they want to see a degree. If you have experience, the degree is often optional.

      Just off the top of my head I can think of about 4 people without degre

      • by Bigbutt (65939)

        Yea, no degree and I'm a Sr Unix Admin. I am investigating pursuing a degree, more for personal education than career advancement though. At this point, I can't see how a degree would improve my chances of keeping my job or getting a different one should this one fail :)

        [John]

  • by metalmaster (1005171) on Monday April 14, 2014 @09:36AM (#46747267)
    Many employers require a bachelors' degree or unattainable amounts of experience for even entry-level jobs doing menial tasks. I understand they dont want folks with the attention span of a gnat, but they should keep requirement realistic. I see job listings every day requiring 5 to 10 years of experience but only offer entry-leve or even minimuml wages.
    • Most of those are H1B bait. Some HR boffin is doing the diligence to set up another round of imported indentured servants.

  • Would you rather hire a support technician with an arm's length list of industry certifications or a 4 year degree? I know which one I'd choose (the former). It's not a position where universities lay out a comprehensive education program that can compete with industry. Same for DBAs, sysadmins and network engineers. Those are professional positions that require maybe at most an AA's worth of credits in the case of the network engineer to help them understand why they do what they do, but most of it is product knowledge-heavy work. Now if only more companies would realize that they need to ratchet up the difficulty on their certifications, certifications would get a better reputation.

  • It's just a badge... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kenja (541830) on Monday April 14, 2014 @09:38AM (#46747283)
    Look at it this way. The HR person will have two stacks of resumes. One for people with a degree and one for people without. Odds are the only time they'll delve into the non-degree pile is if they find no one in main stack to fill the position. This isn't to say you MUST have a degree to get a job. I lack one and have been employed for a long time. But I'm realizing that as my age gets up there, it will be desirable to get one for my next job.
    • Look at it this way. The HR person will have two stacks of resumes. One for people with a degree and one for people without. Odds are the only time they'll delve into the non-degree pile is if they find no one in main stack to fill the position. This isn't to say you MUST have a degree to get a job. I lack one and have been employed for a long time. But I'm realizing that as my age gets up there, it will be desirable to get one for my next job.

      I actually saw a job posting for a network engineer that was giving preference to people with a Master's degree.

  • /. Your killing me (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Aside from the fact that I saw this load of crap on reddit awhile ago, this summary is painful to read again. The "is accessible" just made me want to cringe. Any job is accessible without a degree when there is no legal requirement for the practitioner to have a degree. You might as well post that 44% of the 128,000 jobs are prime candidates for H1B. I can spin these figures too.

  • ... to be a computer programmer or sys admin or DBA. Many short-sighted companies may not hire you, but why do you want to work for a company that cares more about a piece of paper than the abilities of it's staff. Be willing to start at the bottom so you can spend 4 years having someone else train you. It's a hell of a lot cheaper than paying for it yourself.

    After several years as in those fields, you won't need a degree to become an engineer or architect. Anything you might have learned 10 years earlier

    • Nowadays this would be hard for the millennial generation where some folks work pro bono for some hope of getting a position later on. There is more competition for the real tech industry now. Why take a chance on the person with no degree when you have so many with degrees to pick from? Most companies don't recuperate their losses on hiring someone until after he or she has worked for them for at least two years.
  • The Consequence (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pokerdad (1124121) on Monday April 14, 2014 @09:46AM (#46747375)
    When I worked in IT I used to laugh at anyone who had spent more time or money schooling than I did but still ended up in the same lousy positions. That was until, after some years in the industry, I came to realize that their education gave them a much better chance at advancement. A lot of the people I used to laugh at are doing well in IT 10 or more years later, while I left for greener pastures back in 2009.
  • by HeckRuler (1369601) on Monday April 14, 2014 @09:47AM (#46747387)

    What jobs are they looking at here?

    computer user support specialist
    customer services representatives
    telecom line installer
    sales representatives
    (With new york city wages)

    So what you're saying is that people working in the shit-end of the industry don't need the same credentials as the people working the high-paying end of the industry?

    Golly gosh-darn!
    It's like manager at the local McDonalds doesn't need to have the same pedigree as the CEO of McDonalds corporate.

    And maybe... just maybe... that night-shift manager has just about the same chances of rising to CEO of McDonalds as the help-desk wage-slave has of becoming the lead software architect.

    • Director of Information Security, six-figure income, no degree. Not exactly the "shit-end of the industry". I've known IT managers and directors (and one CSO) who can make the same claim.

      Maybe... just maybe... there are career ladders in IT and IS that don't lead to staring at a monitor for hours on end writing algorithms that the users will break.

    • As someone who hires and manages tech support workers (and has done so for a few different companies), I can say that the point being made isn't as trite as all of that. When I look at a resume or interview someone, I don't ultimately pay very much attention to the education. The reason why is that most degrees are virtually useless for the work.

      I've known and hired people who have degrees related to computers/engineering, and others who have no degree or have a degree in something completely irrelevant

      • You can tell when someone has done any kind of help desk work, because when confronted by "X isn't working" the first thing they do is inquire as to whether they've rebooted since X was installed. Everything from Active Directory changes to a Windows update can cause junk to break, and rebooting takes five minutes at most.

        I did help desk work for three years and I still forget this lesson sometimes since I switched to software dev. DID YOU REBOOT should be stapled on everyone's wall in every office on th
        • There's some truth to that, though a lot of things don't actually require a reboot-- even when they say they do. One of the secrets is that sometimes, asking someone to reboot is just a customer support tactic. For example, if I have 5 things to do in the next hour, and only time to do four of them, I might ask one of them to wait until they have time to save all of their work, reboot the computer, and check to see if they're still having problems. I might not expect that rebooting will fix the problem,

  • Reading through the comments did no one else see that in the article the company that was focused on only recruited people with 15 years industry experience?! I suppose the owner wants people to work for 15 years without pay as an intern before getting a position at his company? Looks like there are just too many people for every decent job.

  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:10AM (#46747621) Homepage
    And I can honestly say that for most tech jobs, we are more akin to a plumber or an electrician, than anything else.

    Yes, if your company makes it's money making and selling software or hardware, SOME of the high end jobs are different. Similarly, the guys that make toilets have some high end jobs that are not blue collar workers.

    But most of us don't write the big code. Instead we install, maintain and fix stuff that some idiot took a big dump in.

    We are plumbers, not Management. Hell, we even hate the 'suits'.

    For the majority of jobs, we don't need a BA. Honestly, my BA was in political science, not computer science. Yes, I took post-graduate classes, yes I taught myself. But NOTHING I learned from teachers at my university is essential to my job.

  • by globaljustin (574257) <justinglobal@@@gmail...com> on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:14AM (#46747663) Homepage Journal

    this is a problem ****across academic disciplines**** and not in any way related to tech specifically.

    dropping out of college is a reductive concept...and using people like Jobs or Gates as examples is patently foolish

    if you realize your college **program** sucks, transfer to one that doesnt

    if you realize your career goals cannot be reached through a degree, then drop out

    if you want to have a **career** in tech, get a degree in tech

    these stupid studies are so reductive & leave out so many salient factors...disregard!

  • Tech industry jobs that do not require a four-year degree and may only need on-the-job training include customer services representatives, at $18.50 an hour, telecom line installer, $37.60 an hour, and sales representatives, $33.60 an hour.

    There seems to be some confusion here. What exactly constitutes a "tech industry job"? I wouldn't consider any of the above three positions to be that. Customer service (as opposed to technical support) is a low-paid non-technical job that usually involves reading off

  • I know 20 million people live there, but the other 280 million in the US look at this:

    telecom line installer, $37.60

    and think WTF have spent the past 10 years doing??? It took me 10 years, a degree, tons of hours of work, to get my salary up to that level and I am sure I could have been running some RG-58 pretty efficiently for the past 10 years.

    • by JDG1980 (2438906)

      It took me 10 years, a degree, tons of hours of work, to get my salary up to that level and I am sure I could have been running some RG-58 pretty efficiently for the past 10 years.

      Do you want to be digging trenches, fishing wires through walls, and squeezing yourself into tiny crawlspaces and/or attics full of sharp points, mold, and vermin?

      Electricians get paid good money, too, and for the same reason – it's a difficult trade job that requires both physical dexterity and a reasonable level of intel

    • Double.

      You have to pretty much double your salary to be equivlent to working in NY. The cost of living is twice as much.

      So $37/hr is more like $18.5/hr here in the midwest. Which is still pretty damn good pay for the sort of work involved, but not what I'm making as an engineer.

  • Except some companies, like HP, flat out will not hire unless you have a degree.

    It is standard HR practice to use whether you have completed college as a criteria for hiring.

  • by garyebickford (222422) <gar37bic.gmail@com> on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:42AM (#46747959)

    In my long experience as a coder, systems architect, and manager of teams, I have found that for most programming jobs a college degree in CS just isn't necessary. In my early days, few programmers or 'software engineers' even had CS degrees - we had history majors, music majors, a few math majors, etc. Music majors tend to do quite well as they are attracted to patterns and elegance.

    Especially today, web programming is rarely concerned with developing deep algorithms, rather with assembling a set of tools. So a mechanical mind may do quite nicely, and a strong desire to make sure things are correct given all possible inputs - like an accountant, a good programmer won't be satisfied unless every 'penny' is accounted for.

    When hiring, I often found the CS majors as having an inflated sense of their own abilities, and a general lack of knowledge of how programming is generally done in the real world - hacking on some other schmuck's broken legacy code that nobody can figure out. And a kid who started programming in high school and just kept working at it may have five years of real experience before they get their first job, and does it because he/she can't _stop_ doing it.

    The company I work for now has a chief programmer who started writing games in high school, never went to college. He's pretty good, though he needs more real world experience to see how to prevent problems - that's the hardest thing, knowing enough and gettin the habits to avoid the bugs in the first place, which is only possible AFAIK in just experience.

    Once they are in the job, then I would definitely encourage, even require, continuing education - go ahead and take some classes, read the books, try things out. Then they will be learning the algorithms, the techniques, in the context of what they already know.

    • by billius (1188143)

      When hiring, I often found the CS majors as having an inflated sense of their own abilities, and a general lack of knowledge of how programming is generally done in the real world - hacking on some other schmuck's broken legacy code that nobody can figure out. And a kid who started programming in high school and just kept working at it may have five years of real experience before they get their first job, and does it because he/she can't _stop_ doing it.

      I'm really sick of how this seems to come up every time every time people debate the merits of a CS degree. Does it occur to nobody that maybe, just maybe, a fair chunk of the students who chose CS in college are also the kids who started programming in high school (or even earlier!) and have a fair amount of practical experience before they ever get hired because they work on their own projects? And that maybe their CS degree helped open their eyes to new ideas and furthered their learning? I don't unde

  • by Capt.Albatross (1301561) on Monday April 14, 2014 @11:22AM (#46748325)

    The phrase "tech job" is often used without distinguishing between engineering-like jobs and technicians' jobs. This study goes further still, including "jobs supported by technology" - given how technological out society has become, that could be a very broad group.

  • During booms like now, experience is most important. But during slow times employers will add more requirements, a degree being a bigee. believe or not the CS industryis cyclic and it has had down periods.
  • When I think of a "tech job", I don't typically imagine a first line tech support that reads from a script or someone that installs network lines after having in-house training and just doing repeated step-by-step instructions.

    Of course you don't need a bachelors for a job that has little critical thinking requirements. If you want a secure job that pays well, is salary, and has good benefits, you may want a bachelors degree.

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