It’s a question I see on social media and coding forums all too often. With so many options available, it’s understandable that prospective web developers might be confused. Universities, colleges, boot camps, online courses, self-learning? What option should you pick? Do you really need a degree to be a web developer?
The short answer
The good news is no! You don’t need a degree to make a career in web development. I do have a degree, but some of the best developers I’ve worked with during my time in the industry have had no qualifications. As long as you know how to do the work, of course. That’s where online course providers like Udemy shine. I learned how to build web apps using React on Udemy and that’s what landed me my current job.
I sometimes feel like we’re a bit spoiled considering how low the bar to entry is in our industry. Of course, there are upsides and downsides to everything. This low bar to entry often means that there’s heavy competition for open roles. Thankfully, however, in my experience, there’s no shortage of those for developers.
But wait, aren’t degrees expensive? If you don’t need a degree, why would anyone go out and get one?
How a degree might help
While a degree might not be strictly necessary, there’s no denying the fact that having one can be beneficial. No one would shell out the money for one if they were useless. Some companies are more stringent than others and might prefer to hire graduates. Some might even require a degree outright, but it all depends on the company.
Having the qualifications to back you up could help you when it comes to salary negotiations too.
What a degree won’t do for you
At the end of the day, a degree can’t do your job for you. I completed my degree around 8 years ago. The tools and technologies I use to build websites have changed drastically since then. Had I just rested on my laurels and not continued learning, my peers would easily have outshone me, degree or not.
Another must-have for professional web developers is a good portfolio. You need to flex your dev skills and show off some projects that you’ve worked on. In my opinion, for developers, a great portfolio is worth more than any degree.
Conclusion / TL;DR
Having a relevant degree as a web developer can be beneficial. It will give you more career options and could provide leverage for salary negotiations. However, it’s definitely not necessary for a successful career in web development. Some of the best developers I’ve worked with have had no qualifications.
For developers, I’d say it’s important to never stop learning, to constantly improve your skills, and to build a kick-ass portfolio.