Coding Jobs Without a Degree: A Primer
In today’s market, a college degree seems to be the prerequisite for any high-paying job. The chances of landing a career without college in web development may seem grim no matter how much demand there is for web developers.
We’re here to tell you that there are ways to get your foot in the door without spending thousands of dollars on a college education. In this post we’ll teach you how to launch a web development career without college.
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You’ll need to think about what kind of web development career is your ultimate goal. Do you want to work for a startup? At a tech giant? Or do you want to make a living as a freelance web developer? Even launch your own startup company? There are many possibilities with unique pathways to success.
Thinking about your goal will give you insight into what skills and knowledge you’ll need to learn along the way. Do some research about the career paths in which you’re interested, and compare what you’ll have to do to get there. Freelance web development requires a much different approach than an entry-level position at a tech company.
You’ll also want to consider the financial aspects of your web development career. Your career will need to financially support your lifestyle. What kind of salary will you need from your career? Entry-level web developer positions can pay around $60,000 a year, but the freelance market can be volatile. Launching your own business can be even more challenging. Weigh the costs of your education against your projected salary and judge for yourself if your career is a viable one.
Once you’ve considered the factors and established your ultimate goal, you can begin to plan out the steps to achieve it.
Learning what you need
One of the most important things you’ll need to decide is your learning strategy. You won’t be in college taking courses every semester, so you’ll have to find alternative ways to learn the skills you need to excel at your web development career.
You’ll need to learn web development, and not just the basics. You don’t need to become a web development expert, but you do want to gain a skillset equivalent to a college degree — at least as judged by potential employers.
There are many online programs that offer beginner to advanced level online courses that teach you skills in multiple programming languages. Their prices range from free individual courses to paid certification programs with course packages, like LearnToProgram’s Certified Web Development Professional track.
The benefit of a certification program is your ability to prove that you’ve completed a certain level of education and training in a particular skill area. Certification programs offer a high standard of education and often feature course bundles that consolidate your learning material.
Don’t overwork yourself by trying to master web development in 6 months, but set out a realistic plan to complete courses in a certain timeframe. Give yourself time to really understand the material in your courses and work on projects for your portfolio.
There is more to a web development career without college than just programming skills. Your career path might require you to work with clients or coworkers, manage a business, market products, and develop creative solutions. These skills are often gained best from experience. Leave space in your plan for building them through networking, working on projects with other people, contributing to open source projects, and so on.
As you work through your education, your career goals might change. Adjust your plan as much as possible to accommodate the change. By the end, you’ll be ready to get your career off the ground.
Launching your career
You should start building your career as soon as possible. Start networking early on and make connections with your peers through discussion forums, meetups, and hackathons. As your web development skills grow, you can gain valuable experience from working on projects with other developers. Maintain a strong online presence on GitHub, LinkedIn, and even StackOverflow. Your connections will be critical to your success as a web developer without a degree.
During your education, build up a strong portfolio. Without a college degree, you’ll have to really show that you know your stuff — and sometimes this means going above and beyond to prove yourself. Showcase your website and other projects that you’ve completed. Work on projects for other people to gain experience with clients.
Once you finish your education plan — although you should never stop learning — you can officially launch your career. If you’re freelancing or launching your own business, start creating content and marketing yourself. If you’re applying for a position at a tech company, you’ll have to grapple with HR filters that reject applicants that don’t have a college degree. For companies that don’t have this filter, you’ll need to prove your web development expertise on your resume, in your portfolio, and at the interview.
Don’t give up until you land your first job. Professional experience is crucial to your success as a web developer, and will open up many doors for you. Keep working until you’ve achieved your goal, and once that’s done, you can set new goals for yourself. After building your career from the ground up, there is nothing you can’t do.
At the end of the day, if you’ve really committed yourself to learning web development and working towards your goal, there is little doubt that you’ll achieve it. Your drive to succeed by your own standards is what sets you apart from other developers who go through college without experiencing the challenges of building their career from scratch. The road may be rocky, and you’ll feel like giving up at times, but if you press on, there is nothing you won’t be able to achieve. Web development is an excellent option for those looking for a career without college.