How to get a programming/developer job without a degree

Stephen89

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I'm going to be applying for programming, developer jobs in a months time, I know a few people who've got into well paid programming jobs without a degree and I've heard many stories on the internet of how uni students dropped out to get programming jobs. There is a guy who failed his degree and had some programming experience that went into a well paid developer job straight after failing his degree after uni.

1) Pick a programming language, C#, C++, Java, Python or for web development you can choose Ruby etc. Learn by following lessons on Treehouse, Code Academy, Tutorials Point, W3 schools, Udemy, Pluralsight, YouTube.

2) Develop a complex project, you only need one complex project, this could be developing an algorithm, a flight simulator, chess game, 3d image scanning software, video game.

3) Create a portfolio of other projects, this could be web applications or mini- games you have made or anything else such as payroll software, aim to make around 20, everything you do is transferable.

4) Contribute on open source projects on GitHub.

That's all you need to do then start applying junior programmer/developer jobs on jobsites over the internet, you can work from home from remote working, freelance websites or you could start your own business.

Good luck!
 
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LiveFreeX

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This is only possible in America, pretty much everyone else out there will need a comp sci degree. My solution for a friend that has no degree was to buy a small office building (like a cheap one) with an attached apartment and start his own software company/computer business inside. Get a couple of A+/N+ certs and hang em on the wall, then you are half way there. The only way around HR is to start your own gig. Of course he didn't take my advice cause he's a lazy **** that just wants to complain about life... The minecraft dude did 90% of that game on his own, it is do-able.

These dinks managed to steal 250k to build a game a couple years ago with 0 programming education... and its still not finished.

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=389876248

So, if they can do it, there's no reason you can't. Kicksmarter, what a fckin joke that place is.
 
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synergy1

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I am pursuing this path myself, and you can read my thread in this forum about the specific experience. Here is what I have learned so far about the process:

  1. It is not easy to get the skills needed. There is a reason why developers get paid well. It requires an attention to detail, and a broad skillset. You said it right in your post though, and that is to build something that interests you and share it on github. However, it will take more than a few months to build the requisite skillset to be employable. you'll need to learn , at a minimum Object oriented programming, best practices, front and/or backend programming, and some database stuff. This will give you the minimum you need to build something.
  2. Push through when it seems impossible. Take programming the backend, for example, using the Django framework. Its a pain in the ass to learn how to understand how to render requests into useful responses, tie in the model and make it look good. Now, if you want to do it right, you can to incorporate testing along the way which is impossible to start out doing ( but is a best practice). You'll need to code, than refactor as you go along to make what you write better.
  3. Get out there and publish some of your work. I have an interest in finance, so have done a few projects in finance. I coded my own website and point people to my blog posts and code so they can see for themselves what kind of code I produce. Anyone can list off a ton of keywords like, html5, css3, angularJS, or python, but will happily cut and paste a ton of functions without using objects or meta classes to make their job easier and their programs more reliable.
  4. Learn a database. I delved into noSQL which is nice to stuff that doesn't need a structure, and SQL which is better for numerical/time series data, and transactions. I'd learn the raw queries, as well as how to use a framework like Django and use an Object Relational mapper to abstract away the annoying Database queries and get something working in short order.
  5. Get good at deployments. These are a headache. Write a script to pull your github project, launch your app, and even relaunch if it goes down. This is a challenge. Its even worse if you are using Amazon Web services, and are programming only in the linux shell!
  6. Don't reinvent the wheel. Stackoverflow has questions pertaining to what you want to get done. And odds are you can ask a question and get an answer to your problem. Often if you have worked at it, it is something simple or stupid. The best way to learn best practices is to take an existing project and start to dissect it. Read up on concepts you don't get, and build them for your own purpose.
  7. Realize you *can* do it. You might have to pivot a bit, but keep strong towards your objective and keep working at it. Break down the code into manageable pieces, understand how data is passed around, and keep plugging away until you get the desired result. It sounds painfully obvious , but while you are in the thick of 100 lines of code that isn't going you way, you'll be thankful that you stuck through knowing that when its all said and done that there *is* ALWAYS a solution to your problems.
Here is a list of what I have taken a look at:

  • The Front end - JavaScript, jQuery, AngularJS, html, css. These will give you unlimited freedom to make a fully functional website without persistence (a database). You can use Javascript/jQuery to make your website have cool effects. Angular allows for advanced single page development by making modular components. html and css are obviouly the bread and butter for making something that looks nice!
  • The Back end - I use python to serve my content using the Django Framework. Other popular choices are NodeJS which is an asynchronous engine built in javascript. As you said, Ruby, and rails also seems cool. The gist is to learn how to use URLs to serve whatever content you need to.
  • Databases - MongoDB was a good nsql db to get started with. Since I was writing financial apps, I switched over to SQL and used mysql to house a ton of financial data.
  • scripting language - I love python. The libraries are powerful allowing you to essentially write pseudo code. I wrote a few simple scripts to collect data using APIs and store the data into my DB to use later. Need analysis? No problem, python has a library for that.
  • Test driven development - Not what I would *start* out with, but how I plan to devop with later. You basically write functional (application wide) tests, and unit ( modular) tests which you run. These are the equivalent to a spec. If you break something by adding something new, you can identify what you broke and where it broke.
This is a very rough blueprint of what I have done, along with putting all of this onto job sites. People are reaching out to me offering jobs, or discussions about working on projects. From what I hear, many companies have to outsource their development which adds complexity and slows getting their product to market.

Anyway good luck. I'd love to hear how your experience plays out.
 

macallik

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I just want to add that there are more structured approaches outside of developing a complex project to prove your worth. For example, many MOOCs now offer programming specializations. Feel free to Google the reviews of the specializations to see which ones are right for you. Udacity offers nanodegrees for example, and they list some high-profile companies that have hired some of the nanodegree graduates.
 

Stephen89

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Thanks Snergy1, I hope your projects are going well.

I've been getting interview offers for work in Sql, Php, JavaScript.

I'm confident I will get into a Java, Python role in the next 2-3 months.

I've been using this project https://github.com/jamesmawm/High-Frequency-Trading-Model-with-IB

As my personal project for Python. You can borrow some of the code or even modify the project to modify some of the asset classes to your own choosing.

For anyone else seeking a junior Python programmer role, I would modify this project with some of the asset classes such as buy 10 of the biggest NYSE at the beginning of the month and sell at the end of the month over some timeframe.
 
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Bible_Belt

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Computer talk is Chinese to me, but I've known of Interactive Brokers for a long time. If you ever have questions about trading stocks, I have been out of the business a while, but I can help you with general questions. If you are working on a trading system, I'm sure I could help a lot with that.
 

Stephen89

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There are courses on Treehouse such as PHP, JavaScript, Java, etc which completing these course can lead you into a junior programming, developer role.

Also there is techdegree's in Python web dev, Java web dev, Android, JavaScript on treehouse which you will complete 12 quality projects which can land you a junior programmer, developer role from $200 a month for only 12 months.
 

synergy1

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I have been steadily applying to jobs and getting some initial interest. However one thing thats holding me back is real world experience. Personal projects are fine, but it seems employers want professional time. So I guess my advice to others like myself would be to try and work into a lower paying role and get the experience. This is exactly what I am attempting to do.

Good luck!
 
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sazc

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omg, it's like being at work, without actually being there, lol. I just went to a 4 year college, got a degree. about $25k but I did my undergrad at a community college and lived with my grandma. it was fun.
 

Stephen89

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I've had an interview offer as a Java developer, however, I messed up the initial aptitude test, otherwise I would've got in for an interview.

You only need 5/6 solid projects to get into junior programmer, developer interviews, backed up with skills in: JavaScript, Angular.js, Node.js, React.js. SQL, NoSQL, TDD, OOP, Linux, Software Development skills etc). I've done all this and companies have been interested in me. If you want to get into Java, develop 2-3 solid Android apps since these based on Java.

As for commercial experience, develop your own software, which could be an POS/EPOS system, shopping cart catalog, e-ticketing system, warehouse management(you can google, youtube examples of this), anything you can think of. You can also develop a mobile app and upload this onto the store to get some real credibility.

Also other project ideas: simulation of a video game(tennis match), mobile apps, web api's, warehouse management system.

You can also use Treehouse's JavaScript, Java, C# projects as your own projects.
 
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speed dawg

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Nobody is going to hire you without a degree. Get real.

Unless you are so incredibly talented that they cannot do without you, which is that case, makes YOU incredibly rare, and likely not a blueprint that normal people can follow.
 

sazc

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Nobody is going to hire you without a degree. Get real.

Unless you are so incredibly talented that they cannot do without you, which is that case, makes YOU incredibly rare, and likely not a blueprint that normal people can follow.
You think? I always assumed that depended on the location. Maybe im wrong.
 

Stephen89

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Nobody is going to hire you without a degree. Get real.

Unless you are so incredibly talented that they cannot do without you, which is that case, makes YOU incredibly rare, and likely not a blueprint that normal people can follow.
That's incorrect.

All you need is a couple of high quality projects(video games, apps, some software) and knowing TDD, web technologies, databases, version control and you are in.

70% of the programming jobs here don't need a degree.

There are so many forums I've read, treehouse success stories, Reddit, blogs, quora, etc where these people are programmers, developers. Even people who have degrees but not in Computer Science too developed their own projects and are now programmer, developers.

http://learnwithjeff.com/blog/2012/08/21/how-to-get-a-job-as-a-developer-in-less-than-six-months/

https://www.quora.com/Can-you-get-a-good-software-developer-job-without-a-degree

I had a Java developer interview offer and beforehand I had interest for JavaScript, Php roles which I declined. That's a sure fire indicator I'll get a job without a degree.

Developing android apps will stand out when applying for Java roles.
 
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Stephen89

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I should have put this in my last post, however I cannot edit my last pot:

Udacity is great for learning and knowing how to develop apps, websites, software step by step and you can use their projects as your own projects which carry a lot of weight.

Same for Treehouse's Java, C#, Python, PHP, JavaScript, web dev projects.

After 1 experience, you can get into freelance programming, develop a few projects and then you can become a full time freelance programmer, be your own boss, not dependent on location and move countries.
 
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Stephen89

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I'm applying for my second batch of Java applications next week, this time I've added another project based on developing a cloud applications and I'm also applying for Python, C# roles.

There are a number of websites which you can learn and use their projects as your own projects:treehouse, Udacity, pluralsight.
 

synergy1

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I have been steadily applying to jobs and getting some initial interest. However one thing thats holding me back is real world experience. Personal projects are fine, but it seems employers want professional time. So I guess my advice to others like myself would be to try and work into a lower paying role and get the experience. This is exactly what I am attempting to do.

Good luck!
I ran into this same problem. The coursework is a good way to get the groundwork/ basics, but will not even come close to preparing you the way working on a project will. And even after doing a significant project (I built a large portion of an ecommerce platform on my own), you still need *experience* to get past that last hurdle.

We are in the same boat - I got a lower paying/ entry level job to get into the field. If you have any questions, let me know. They asked technical questions and I fielded them well. It IS possible being green and landing a job.

Good luck man.
 

Stephen89

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Thanks Snergy1!

I've been headhunted for a Python position which they build cyber security software (I'm still thinking about it) and I've also been headhunted for Java roles.

All they wanted to know if I was proficient in the programming language.

I agree, shoot for the entry level, lower paid positions if you have no commercial experience, listing your skills is paramount (PostegreSQL, Puppet, TDD etc).

Also for other people who are interested: you can use Treehouse's, Pluralsight, Udacity web development, software projects as your own projects in C#, Python and Java to put in your portfolio.
 

synergy1

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Sounds like you are making progress. Keep it up.

Another idea I wanted to throw out there is to find a piece of open source software and customize it. Check out how they use all the patterns and you'd be surprised how much you can learn that way after picking up the basics. I learned a lot about Django after having to integrate the oscar framework into a eCommerce platform I am building. The next time I plan to learn a new language, I plan on jumping in on whatever stack is being developed for another project and diving right in.
 
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