You don't need a degree

This article was originally posted on The Pastry Box

When I was 17, I was applying for University places. I don't remember deciding to do this, I did it because everyone else was doing it, because we were told that to get a good job, we needed one. At 18, I started a degree in Psychology, I was going to be a clinical therapist. Three years later and I was exhausted, so decided to take a year out to do something different before going back to get my Masters.

That never happened. I worked for two years and by 2014 I had no idea what I wanted to do, but it wasn't that. So, I started to teach myself web development. One epic montage of hitting a computer in my pyjamas and this year I accepted a full-time position as a "software engineer".

Before I got that job, I doubted my abilities. I wanted to give up because there was no way anyone would hire me without a "degree in computer science or related field". I held off applying for any job for a long time because even the internships wanted qualifications I didn't have.

It took me a long time to realise that in the web and many other professions, a degree is not necessary. As a person in web, you need to show that you have the knowledge and the skill to build things. That does not need a degree.

Why do many job applications list a degree as a need? I did some intensive research (wrote a tweet) and people wrote back to say that it gets rid of the people who aren't serious about the job. Others said it was a "nice to have" rather than a strict rule.

To both of those points I say: take it off of your job spec. You can't measure "seriousness" about the role someone is applying for by whether they have a degree. It's nonsensical. Would you choose the person with a degree who sees this as just another job, rather than a self-taught new starter who has enthusiasm leaking out of their eyeballs?

Having a degree as a "nice to have" on your job spec might seem better, but it's better to get rid of it. When looking for internships, I ended up avoiding any job that mentioned a degree. If I'm up against someone who is just as good, but they have that 'nice to have' degree, are they going to get it over me? I know I work hard, I know I'd be right for the job, but could a piece of paper cost me that opportunity?

I'd encourage any employer to remove qualifications from job specifications, unless you're hiring an actual rocket scientist. By opening your eyes to the amazing amount of talented people out there, you're going to be much better off.

I have worked with quite a few people in a few short months. Some had CS degrees, some didn't. There was no difference in 'skill' that was caused by a lack of a degree. We all push numbers and letters around until they make sense.

I sit at my desk every day and talk sternly to a computer to make it do things. You can do that too with practice. Go get a degree if you want one, but you don't and shouldn't need one for other people to see you as hireable.