Acquiring a college degree is a good idea, but it’s not crucial if you want to land a job in programming. Today, students have alternative education pathways to navigate the tech scene and get programming jobs without a degree. You can choose to attend a bootcamp program, trade school, vocational training, or self-taught classes.
There are lots of programming jobs without degree requirements out there. It’s only a matter of time before you get the offers you want with a high annual base salary. If you aren’t sure where to start, you should read tips for software engineers who don’t have degrees. Research interview questions on platforms like Interview Cake and find opportunities to network with peers and friends of friends.
This guide will cover how to get a programming job without a degree. You will learn the definition of programming, the skills required for each job, educational pathways, and salaries for programming jobs without a degree. You will also find a list of companies looking to hire programming professionals. Find out how to get a programming job without a degree in this comprehensive guide.
What Is Programming?
Programming is the process of giving a computer a set of instructions to carry out particular tasks. This set of instructions is referred to as code, and code is written by programmers. To write code, programmers need to learn the most popular programming languages, tools, and techniques.
Using a code editor or an Integrated Development Environment (IDE), programmers develop a source code. Other programmers are able to access and read the code in the IDE. The source code is then translated into machine language, which is interpreted by the computers. This process is referred to as compiling. Top compiling programming languages are C and C++.
What Do Programming Jobs Pay?
According to PayScale, the average salary for software programming jobs is $80,705. This means you can earn at least $30 per hour in a programming career. The highest earning programmers can make almost double this number. Like most careers, there are cities that pay higher annual salaries than others.
PayScale reports that the cities that have the highest salaries for programmers are New York, Seattle, and San Francisco. These cities pay talented programmers a salary that is up to 50 percent higher than average. If you want to increase your salary potential, you should consider gaining more work experience and skills or a higher education level.
What Skills Do You Need to Land a Programming Job?
The skills you need to land a programming job without a degree include programming, math, and data algorithms. Every developer job is different, but most types of programmers will need at least these skills. Read below to learn more about the programming jobs skills needed to get a programming job without a degree.
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Data Structures and Algorithms
Understanding data structures and algorithms is an essential skill that helps in problem-solving and coding. It is key that you understand how data organization works and how it is used in solving real problems. Developing knowledge in data structures and algorithms and other related programming jobs skills needed will help you spend less time when coding as a software developer.
Hiring companies are quick to employ professionals with some knowledge in code management and storage. It is important to be proficient in version control, which includes being comfortable using Git, Github, and Mercurial. You will be able to get an entry-level programming job without a degree if you have this skill, and it might pay a high median salary, too.
Integrated Development Environment
It is important that you gain familiarity with the Integrated Development Environment (IDE). This is where you will write, test, debug, and share your code. There are multiple Integrated Development Environments that serve different purposes for programmers. PyCharm, Spyder, Visual Studio, Jupyter, Eclipse, and NetBeans are some of the top IDEs today for programmer job skills.
Most programming job skills require a basic understanding of algebra and arithmetic functions. This is because programming is intertwined with binary mathematics and linear algebra. You will also find different instances where calculus is used in machine learning. This is the case when it comes to aspects such as Gradient Descent algorithms.
What Education Do You Need to Get a Programming Job?
The education you need to land a programming job varies from one prospective employer to another, and it could include a bootcamp certificate, certifications, or a degree. Top-paying programming jobs often require a four-year computer science degree or an equivalent. There are many vacant positions that list bachelor’s degree programs as a requirement to get shortlisted for the position.
Due to the high demand for programming professionals, companies also accept graduates from alternative educational programs, including the completion of online courses. You can find programming jobs open to professionals who have completed bootcamp programs, courses at community colleges, or vocational training.
These alternative education pathways feature competitive programs with the aim of reducing the skill gap in the software industry. As well, the education you need to get a job as a programmer working remotely could include online bootcamps and software engineering courses. Programmer entry-level education is usually flexible.
Why College Is Not for Everyone
College is not for everyone, mostly because of the hefty fees involved. This traditional route of education tends to charge high tuition fees for STEM subjects. This is why many students look for alternative forms of education to supplement their knowledge in the field and find programming jobs without a degree.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average annual tuition and fees for undergraduate students can get up to $37,600. Due to the high tuition rate, students tend to fall into debt after graduation. Many students spend years clearing their tuition debt. If the students fail to acquire alternative payment methods, they may be set back financially due to debt.
Arguably, obtaining work experience is better than spending four years in college. A four-year degree in programming doesn’t always teach in-demand knowledge or skills. With the rapid development of the industry, there is very little room for colleges to constantly revise their curriculum. Therefore, it’s sometimes better to join a coding apprenticeship program to gain real-world experience.
Many well-paying programming jobs don’t require college degrees. With the increase in educational providers and online learning platforms, college degrees have many alternatives. Many companies today hire professionals from bootcamps, vocational training centers, or trade schools. These are excellent platforms that offer intensive training in programming to help you get a programming job without a degree.
Can a Coding Bootcamp Help Me Get a Programming Job?
Yes, an online coding bootcamp can help you get a programming job. Coding bootcamps curate career-oriented programs to help students acquire in-demand coding knowledge and practice. They take into account the current needs of the industry and design the curriculum to help reduce the high demand for programmers. Most, if not all, graduates get jobs after programming bootcamps.
In addition to having a competitive curriculum, coding bootcamps hire professionals already working in the field with varied educational and work experience. To supplement the in-class knowledge, bootcamps hire career coaches and mentors who offer guidance toward your education and career to help you get a job after your programming bootcamp.
The career services you will receive from bootcamp programs are advantageous for beginners in the field. These services range from resume building, cover letter writing, job interview preparation, application building, and profile building. They are essential for bootcamp graduates to get ready to fill out job applications and jumpstart their careers in programming.
Often, to ease the job search process in programming, professionals receive extensive job search support from their respective bootcamps. There are also bootcamps that provide job guarantees to help people find jobs after programming bootcamps. These platforms allow students to pay for their tuition after landing a job in their field. By attending the programs, you will get exposure to companies that hire bootcamp graduates.
How to Get a Programming Job With a GED
You can get a programming job without a degree and only a GED if you follow the steps below. They include learning to code and building a portfolio for potential employers to see during the interview process. No matter what type of programmer you are, getting a programming job without a degree is easy, as long as you follow the right path.
Your introduction to programming should start with you learning the basics of programming and some common programming languages. Decide if you want to learn an object-oriented programming language, a functional programming language, a procedural programming language, a logic programming language, or a scripting programming language.
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Build a Project
Once you are confident in your coding skills, you build a programming project. Working on a coding project will help you solidify your skills in programming. You will acquire real-world experience in programming software by coding a program from scratch. Building a programming portfolio is also an excellent way to showcase to potential clients your abilities as a software developer.
Expand Your Portfolio
Once you build your first coding project, you can start putting your programming portfolio together. You won’t be able to get a programming job without a degree if you don’t have a strong portfolio that shows off the programming tools you know.
The key to getting programming jobs without a degree is being able to demonstrate what you know to prospective employers. A coding portfolio is the best way to do this. You can build an online portfolio to boost your online presence. Some examples of programming portfolio projects include software applications like a habit tracking app or news aggregator.
Create a Solid LinkedIn Profile
Junior developers and senior developers alike need a good LinkedIn profile to get jobs in 2022. This is especially true if you want to get programming jobs without a degree. A LinkedIn profile can show off your professional experience and software engineering courses you’ve taken. You can post a portfolio project, search for software developer job postings, and find additional resources in your professional networks.
Connecting with other users on LinkedIn is also a great way to learn how to get a programming job without a degree. Networking with professional developers can help you find out what software engineering skills and experience you need to succeed. Twitter, Slack, and Discord are also great places to connect with other programmers.
Look for a Freelance Job
Once you complete a series of personal projects, you should consider becoming a freelance programmer and applying for contractual jobs. This is an excellent way to take a deep dive into tech. As a freelance programmer, you will gain legitimate work experience and develop marketable skills to add to your portfolio. This is a good way to start making money and get a programming job without a degree.
Get an Internship to Expand Your Experience
If you want to learn how to get programming jobs without a degree, an internship is a good way to get your foot in the door. Computer science internships are offered by major companies like Google, Meta, and Microsoft to help people start a career in software development. This is usually after an educational program and before an entry-level job.
Programming interns can complete a variety of tasks. These can include reviewing lines of code and working collaboratively on software programs. An internship is key to getting a programming job without a degree because it allows you to get hands-on experience.
Find an Entry-Level Programming Job Position
Working as a freelancer will help you build a strong resume. This can easily help you land an entry-level position without a degree in programming. Try to apply for data entry, software tester, or tech support job positions to launch your career in programming. There are plenty of opportunities out there on popular sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor. You should also look at freelance platforms, which also have a wide range of jobs.
Specialize in Programming
It is important to focus your energy on a particular aspect of programming and find your programmer niche. For example, you can build APIs to help companies streamline their processes or systems. As a job seeker, there are multiple facets of programming that you can specialize in to increase your chances of employment and learn how to get a programming job without a degree.
The best certifications for programming can demonstrate your skills in a certain topic, which is key to getting a programming job without a degree. Certifications can help you get higher salary offers and better opportunities in the tech industry. They can certify your soft skills, coding skills, and other marketable skills.
High-Paying Programming Jobs Without a College Degree
The highest-paying programming jobs are usually senior positions, and everyone has to start somewhere. Entry-level programming jobs can still pay high salaries, help you meet like-minded people, and let you build skills in the industry. Read below to learn about the highest-paying programming jobs that you can get without a degree.
Best Programming Jobs that Don’t Require a Degree: A Closer Look
|Entry-Level Software Architect||$81,464||22%|
|Entry-Level Computer Software Engineer||$72,518||22%|
|Entry-Level Cyber Security Analyst||$65,293||33%|
|Entry-Level Network Engineer||$61,581||5%|
|Entry-Level Mobile App Developer||$61,097||13%|
|Entry-Level Systems Analyst||$58,393||7%|
|Junior Data Analyst||$52,028||25%|
|Entry-Level Web Developer||$51,097||13%|
|Entry-Level Graphic Designer||$47,851||3%|
|Help Desk Analyst||$46,339||9%|
|Entry-Level Digital Marketer||$43,011||10%|
|Entry-Level Computer Support Specialist||$42,322||9%|
Best Programming Jobs that Don’t Require a Degree: A Closer Look
Entry-Level Software Architect
Entry-level software architects design solutions, create project tasks, and evaluate the needs of a project under the supervision of a senior software architect. This position also involves checking bugs in code and ensuring security updates are conducted regularly. These professionals need software, coding, collaboration, and communication skills.
Entry-Level Computer Software Engineer
Entry-level computer software engineers write and test code while collaborating with software developers or an IT team. These engineers often work closely with project managers, graphic designers, system analysts, and marketing professionals. Many programming jobs without a degree fall into this category.
Entry-Level Cyber Security Analyst
An entry-level cyber security analyst works with a larger security team to help protect a company from digital threats. Most industry-leading companies hire cyber security analysts because they have lots of sensitive data. This is one of the best programming jobs without a degree because it can help you start a long career in cyber security.
Entry-Level Network Engineer
An entry-level network engineer is arguably the best job in IT without programming. Network engineers maintain network infrastructure and work with a team to help keep data safe. These professionals are closely related to network administrators and network architects. This job requires strong network engineering and resource management skills.
Entry-Level Mobile App Developer
Entry-level mobile app developers create programs that run on Apple or Android operating systems. Most entry-level professionals are conversant with the two operating systems, as well as Java, Angular, and Swift. These are the main programming languages and frameworks used in creating applications. This position involves conducting tests and debugging exercises.
Entry-Level Systems Analyst
The main job of a systems analyst is to improve employees’ user experiences with a company’s software systems. They advise business owners on the best programs for their company to use and implement software to ensure they work efficiently. Entry-level systems analysts may work as consultants or as full-time employees.
Junior Data Analyst
The entry-level position of a junior data analyst involves collecting relevant data and documenting information that can impact a business. They interpret statistics, write reports, and curate visual representations to showcase to stakeholders. The versatility of a data analyst position allows these professionals to work in tech, accounting, healthcare, or finance.
Entry-Level Web Developer
Entry-Level Graphic Designer
Entry-level graphic designers work on creating and editing visual mediums to communicate ideas, products, or services. Companies rely on graphic designers to manipulate colors, shapes, images, animations, or photography to positively impact brand awareness. Graphic designers work on posters, websites, logos, and any other marketing material.
Help Desk Analyst
Help desk analysts are responsible for maintaining smooth computer operations. They provide users and staff with technical support, test and install software and systems, keep records of computer issues, and collaborate with an IT team. This position requires a familiarity with Windows and Cisco, as well as various networks, operating systems, and programming languages.
Entry-Level Digital Marketer
Companies rely on entry-level digital marketers to increase brand awareness of their products or services online. Through these professionals, businesses can reach a wider audience and increase profitability. Often, junior digital marketers write email campaigns, research new online media opportunities, increase social media engagement, and monitor web analytics.
Entry-Level Computer Support Specialist
Entry-level computer support specialists are in charge of installing software, maintaining computer systems, and providing technical support to staff or clients. They also troubleshoot computers or networks. Often, companies rely on these professionals to train users in new software. This is one of the best jobs in IT without programming.
Companies That Offer Entry-Level Programming Jobs
If you want to start your career in programming, there are lots of companies that pay well without a degree. They offer internships and entry-level jobs that can help you build experience without formal education. Read below to learn more about the best-paying companies to work for without a degree.
- Microsoft. Microsoft is a leading company in the tech scene that provides entry-level programmer jobs. Microsoft has been recognized by Glassdoor in the past four years as one of the best places to work. The company features a high rating of 4.4/5 with 91 percent of employees recommending it to workers and 98 percent approving of the CEO.
- Google. With a focus on innovation, Google is known for prioritizing each of its employees’ ideas regardless of their job descriptions. The company tailors salaries, bonuses, and rewards to encourage its employees. With an internship and some experience in the tech industry, you can get a job at Google.
- General Motors. General Motors is another well-established company that offers opportunities to coding professionals from diverse backgrounds. Whether you are highly skilled or a tech novice, do not hesitate to seek a software engineering or data analytics job position at General Motors.
- Revature. Revature specializes in providing work to entry-level tech talent across the US. If you are a qualified tech candidate with the passion and motivation to positively impact this tech company, you should look into Revature’s job openings. It is one of the best companies that pay well without a degree.
- IBM. IBM is an excellent company to join as an entry-level tech professional without a degree. IBM provides its services to multiple Fortune 500 companies that will give you the exposure you need to rise through the ranks. IBM intends to upskill or reskill 30 million people by 2030, so it’s a company with numerous promotion opportunities.
Where to Find Programming Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree
If you want to get a programming job without a degree, you will usually find entry-level positions. These types of jobs will usually require some education or experience, like a bootcamp certificate or a portfolio of projects. Read the list of resources below to learn where to find entry-level programming jobs.
Indeed is a free employment website with a job board available across 60 countries, aggregating job positions within firms, associations, and other job boards. Through it, you can apply directly to a job position and even curate your resume. If you’re wondering where to find entry-level programmer jobs, you should start here.
Known for networking and career development, LinkedIn caters to multiple professionals and companies in tech and beyond. It’s an excellent platform for potential employers to list vacant job positions and for professionals to share their resumes. Today, the platform features over 774 million users stretching across 200 countries. It is a great place to learn how to get a programming job without a degree.
Glassdoor is another platform to find entry-level developer jobs without a degree. The platform is reputable for providing anonymous company reviews from former and current employees. It also extends its services by allowing users to disclose salaries and apply for open job positions. This is a great place to find programming jobs without a degree.
Consider a Programming Degree Later in Your Career
As much as a high school diploma and online certifications can open up opportunities in tech, you should consider pursuing a degree later in your programming career. There are many professionals in the field with strong educational backgrounds and experience in programming. This makes the industry competitive for a coder without a degree in programming.
Often, hiring companies list a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or an equivalent as an education requirement for entry-level positions. The degree programs quickly indicate to employers that professionals have the required knowledge and technical expertise to pass coding interviews and handle programming projects.
Bachelor’s degrees can also lead to a higher level of education and consequently better-paying positions in the software industry. You can pursue a master’s degree once you complete your undergraduate to increase your salary potential and employment outlook. You will find multiple job opportunities in programming seeking professionals with at least a master’s degree.
Generally, programmers with a degree in computer science tend to receive a higher salary than GED certificate holders. Hiring companies ensure they are well compensated for their skills and knowledge. However, getting a job without a degree is possible. Once you learn the best-known programming languages, you can pass technical interviews and get a job with a high annual salary.
Programming Jobs Without a Degree FAQ
How much do programmers without a degree make?
Programmers without a degree make $49,804 each year, according to ZipRecruiter. However, this median salary is subject to location, technical skills, company, and education level. For example, people with artificial intelligence experience or a solid foundation in a wide range of languages will find plenty of opportunities that pay higher than average.
What are alternative education pathways to a programming degree?
The alternative education pathways to a programming degree include coding bootcamps, online entry-level programming courses, vocational training programs, and trade school courses. You can also become a self-taught programmer by listening to programming podcasts, watching instructional videos, and reading programming books.
Can I land a well-paying programming job without a degree?
Yes, you can land a well-paying programming job without a degree. There are many hiring companies willing to hire professionals with different educational backgrounds. These companies, like Microsoft and IBM, seek programming professionals from places other than universities to close the existing skill gap and fill entry-level job openings.
Is programming a good career?
Yes, programming is a good career. You can become a web developer, software engineer, machine learning engineer, or UX designer. In addition, you will receive decent pay in any of these positions. With Internet access increasing worldwide, programming will remain a relevant and lucrative career path in the future, even if you don’t have a software engineering degree.
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