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Hi, Drewbie. Your comments touched a nerve. Unfortunately, having a degree is increasingly becoming the magic key. The dilemma is that many of us are highly qualified, experienced, competent programmers, yet that lack of degree keeps us from getting in the front door. Many of us were busy learning how to program, while others were getting their degrees, so to speak.

I think this is part of the cycle for new technologies. Early on, there are no degrees, because no one's done it before. At that stage, the need for people to learn the technology is critical, so mere paper qualifications aren't important. As the technology matures, there are more teachers, more students, and eventually more degrees.

Management types seem to be comforted by the paper qualifications. It's safer for their jobs. If they are faced with two candidates, one with a degree (but who can't program), and the other who may be a god, but has no degree, a manager will probably opt for the degree. It's simply safer for him. If the god doesn't work out, he has no defense. He hired the guy, and now the guy's gone. But if he takes the degree, he's not at risk.

It has been my experience that a degree doesn't have much to do with programming ability either way. Some great programmers have degrees; many do not. And there are plenty of crappy programmers out there, with and without paper.

I don't see a good solution for this, for those of us (such as myself) who have no degree. It is getting harder to find jobs in corporations, as they move to requiring more paper. I am seeing smaller, hungrier companies willing to take a risk with someone without a degree. Unfortunately, these companies often can't pay much. They are taking risks because they're already marginal. Not much job security.

As to moving yourself to the "front of the pack", I'm not exactly sure what you meant by that. I've always tried to make sure I'm at my best, and to let my skills speak for themselves. To me (and it sounds like to you, as well) getting in the door is the hard part. Once I get a chance to show what I can offer, I feel I have a good shot at a job. Certainly not a shoo-in. There are better programmers than I am; but at least a fair chance at it.


In reply to Re: Climbing the corporate ladder by baruch
in thread Climbing the corporate ladder by drewbie

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