Entry-level programmer sharpening her technical skills so she can get a coding job without a degree

How to Get a Coding Job Without a Degree: 2024 Guide

Is it really possible to land high-paying coding jobs without a degree? The short answer is an emphatic yes. While most other lucrative fields require long-term training, the computer programming skillset changes so rapidly that traditional forms of education struggle to stay up to date. The upshot is that even with no degree, entry-level coding jobs are yours for the taking. 

All that being said, you shouldn’t expect programming jobs without degree requirements to just fall in your lap. The weaker emphasis on college degrees in the white-collar job market has entailed a higher emphasis on your skills. In order to maximize how much you can make without a degree, you’ll need to prove that you’ve got the goods. In this article, we break down what you need to do to be competitive for coding jobs without a degree.

Can You Get a Coding Job Without a Degree? 

Yes, you can get a coding job without a degree as long as you can show that you have the skills and experience listed in the job posting. Employers in most industries interpret a bachelor’s degree as a signal that a candidate has made a serious investment in their professional future. In information technology, however, there are more open positions than qualified workers

Rather than leave open roles unfilled, bosses look for other evidence of job-ready skills. If you want to apply for a programming job without a degree, a less time-consuming type of formal training, such as a coding bootcamp, can fill the education space on your resume. Bootcamps will also help you polish your portfolio, another key to impressing potential employers. 

How Much Can You Make Coding Without a Degree?

You can make just as much coding without a degree as you can with a degree, competing for all the same coding jobs that college graduates pursue. Irrespective of education level, the average entry-level junior software engineer earns $65,686 per year, according to PayScale. Some of the earners in this average are coding bootcamp graduates and self-taught programmers. 

Keep in mind that if you don’t have a college degree, you may have to work your way toward full-time jobs by spending time on the freelance circuit, where the average coder earns about $31 per hour, according to ZipRecruiter.  While it’s true that bachelor’s degrees are worth more than high school diplomas on average, the high cost of college will eat into your coding salary

How to Get a Coding Job Without a Degree in 8 Easy Steps

You don’t need a four-year degree to get a programming job. That said, there’s still the matter of acquiring and then demonstrating that you have the necessary skills, which will take time. Follow these eight steps to make yourself competitive for jobs in coding without a degree. 

  1. Start Learning Popular Programming Languages

Some of the most common programming languages are JavaScript, Python, Java, C++, and C#, according to the TIOBE Index. Since programming languages are foundational to any coding skillset, your programming career must start here. As soon as you learn your first, it will be easier to learn another language and give yourself even more marketable skills.

  1. Choose a Coding Career Pathway

The type of coding career you want will determine the programming languages you should learn. If you want to get into web development, you should focus on JavaScript. A career as a backend developer can start with Java or Ruby on Rails. Learning a more versatile language, such as Python or C++, will allow you to start learning now and choose a career path later. 

  1. Join a Coding Bootcamp to Get Hands-On Experience

Being without a degree does make coding jobs harder to get, which is why you should pursue some kind of formal training. The main advantages of coding bootcamps vs. computer science degrees are that they’re less expensive and much faster. They’re also career-oriented, meaning you’ll learn the ropes of the programming profession through practical, hands-on projects. 

  1. Contribute to Open Source Projects to Hone Your Coding Skills

After your coding bootcamp, getting a job will be much easier. The application process for an entry-level programming job, however, can still be quite intensive, so you’ll want to continue leveling up your skills after you leave your training program. On online coding communities like GitHub, you can work on public projects and work your contributions into your portfolio. 

  1. Polish Your Programming Portfolio

It cannot be overstated, especially if you have no degree, that coding jobs are won on the strength of your projects. Take all the advice you can get about how to strengthen your programming portfolio. Your bootcamp will help you use your portfolio to show off your most marketable skills. Whatever projects you can complete on your own time are icing on the cake. 

  1. Gain Practical Experience With Freelance Programming Gigs

When you’re subject to the whims of a tech employer, your bootcamp training and extracurricular coding projects may not count toward the work experience requirement. To solve this problem, check out the freelance market for programming gigs. Once you’ve had experience taking real clients, you’ll be qualified for an even wider range of coding jobs. 

  1. Add Apprenticeships, Internships, or Certifications to Your Resume

You can further improve your candidacy by taking on sub-entry-level positions and getting certified in specific areas. The best coding certifications, for example, are one more way to validate your skillset for programming jobs if you have a degree. And a tech apprenticeship or internship on your resume can serve as further evidence of both training and work experience.

  1. Apply for Coding Jobs That Match Your Skills and Experience

Your job application should now have more than enough material to make up for the absence of a degree. Once you get to the interview stage, make sure to prepare for all of the employer’s coding and software development interview questions. The soft skills training that your coding bootcamp should have covered will come in handy here. 

Here Are 5 Coding Jobs You Can Get Without a Degree

Because programmers are in such high demand, many employers post coding jobs without a degree requirement. When searching for job opportunities, pay attention to the minimum education requirements. For entry-level coding jobs in each of the five tech fields below, you will find employers that accept “equivalent experience” as an alternative to a bachelor’s degree. 

Job Entry-Level Salary Best Non-Degree Training Option
Machine Learning Engineer $96,946 Machine Learning Engineering & AI Bootcamp by Springboard
Software Engineer $80,414 Software Engineering Bootcamp by General Assembly
Computer Programmer $63,687 Software Development Bootcamp by Coding Dojo
Web Developer $52,224 Full Stack Web Development Bootcamp by CareerFoundry
Software Tester $48,548 Software QA Bootcamp by Devmountain

Machine Learning Engineer | Entry-Level Salary: $96,946

  • Overall Average Salary: $103,500
  • Projected Job Growth, 2022-2032: 35%

A machine learning engineer is an artificial intelligence expert who can manipulate data with machine learning algorithms. This data science role involves building programs that can perform analytical tasks similar to the way humans would, only much faster. You can get this coding job without a degree by attending one of the best machine learning bootcamps.

Software Engineer | Entry-Level Salary: $80,414

  • Overall Average Salary: $127,260
  • Projected Job Growth, 2022-2032: 26%

Software engineers design, build, and deploy applications for a wide range of devices and operating systems. Your chance at landing any given software engineering job is a function of what programming languages, frameworks, and processes you know. A software engineering bootcamp is a great way to get the necessary experience and know-how for these jobs.

Computer Programmer | Entry-Level Salary: $63,687

  • Overall Average Salary: $93,000
  • Projected Job Growth, 2022-2032: -10%

Whereas software engineers look at the big-picture design and functionality of computer programs, computer programmers do a lot of the actual coding. A computer programming role is an ideal entry-level coding job even if you have no degree because the necessary programming skills are best acquired by working on projects, not by attending classes. 

Web Developer | Entry-Level Salary: $52,224

  • Overall Average Salary: $78,580
  • Projected Job Growth, 2022-2032: 17%

Websites are the engine of commerce in the 21st century, and there are more web developer jobs available than there are degree holders to fill them. You can launch a coding career without a degree by building a robust portfolio of websites through freelancing gigs. And if you don’t have the time to teach yourself JavaScript, you can try one of the top JavaScript bootcamps

Software Tester | Entry-Level Salary: $48,548

  • Overall Average Salary: $99,620
  • Projected Job Growth, 2022-2032: 20%

Software testing is a quality assurance role that forms a vital part of the software development life cycle. Software testers need to grasp the basics of programming so they can detect bugs and implement fixes before the final product is launched. Many careers in programming start here, and prospective employers often care more about skills than where you went to college. 

If I Go to College, What Is the Best Degree for Coding?

In a tech job market where skills are more important than evidence that you went to college, there are clear pathways to land coding jobs without a degree. Even though employers are becoming increasingly open-minded, some companies simply will not hire you if you did not graduate from a four-year school. 

If you wish to leave no stone unturned in your pursuit of a coding job, some degrees are better than others. The best degree for coding is a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, which will teach you a lot about the theory behind programming. Just know that a degree is no guarantee of a career in tech. In this forward-looking industry, the skills themselves are what matter most.

Coding Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree FAQ

Can I get a programming job with an associate degree?

While an associate degree could be enough to land you a programming job, an associate degree doesn’t add much more value to your resume than a high school diploma. If you don’t have time to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, associate degrees are not the only alternative. You might also consider coding bootcamps and vocational schools.

How long does it take to learn to code?

It takes about three to six months of full-time studying to learn to code. If you’re learning to code in your spare time, you should expect it to take twice as long. Most people who try to teach themselves or take online coding classes end up giving up. To truly commit yourself to learning to code, a coding bootcamp can give you the skills you need in just a few weeks or months. 

What is the best way to learn programming?

The best way to learn programming is through hands-on experience and real-world projects. It is one thing to understand the theory behind computer code, but it is another thing entirely to be able to work with the tools, programs, and workflows that make up the day-to-day life of the coder. If you want to immerse yourself in the world of programming, try a coding bootcamp.

How do I put education on my resume if I don’t have a degree?

If you don’t have a college degree, the education section on your resume should be placed toward the bottom of the document. In that space, you should list any training you’ve completed that’s relevant to the job you’re applying for, such as coding bootcamps or online courses. The most prominent items on your resume should be your work experience and skills. 

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