This post was updated in October 2017 with new information.
What students major in during college is not the be-all and end-all of their career, although pressure from parents, guidance counselors, and media outlets may lead them to believe otherwise. This is especially the case for students seeking careers in software or web development. The growing number of self taught developers and programmers is prevalent not only in Google searches, but also in our latest survey.
Data from our Developer Hiring Landscape survey shows that 32% of developers don't consider their formal education important to their career success. Digging deeper into these numbers, we see that 42% of developers have earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (or a related field), 21% have earned a Master’s Degree in Computer Science (or a related field), and just 2.5% have earned a PhD in Computer Science (or a related field).
So how exactly are these developers learning how to code? Over 41% of developers we surveyed said they have received on-the-job-training, a trend that we hope continues to grow as organizations work harder to recruit and onboard developer talent. Younger developers tend to take online classes (20%), while older developers are far more likely to have enrolled in a coding bootcamp (4%) or professional certification program (5%).
The population of full-stack developers is growing (from 30% to 35% over the past two years), perhaps stressing the importance for developers to offer a wider range of skill sets to satisfy the demands of the marketplace. Additionally, it could be the case that developers are learning new skills as they develop their careers for their own personal projects.
Interested in Hiring Self-Taught Developers? Here's What to Do
Employers who insist on demanding extensive academic qualifications from their candidates are, quite frankly, missing out. Insisting that a developer candidate attended an Ivy League or completed a PhD in Computer Science cuts your applicant pool in half. Instead, employers should look for candidates that are hard-working, show that they have taken initiative (a great example of this is asking them about side projects they’ve done outside of work), and technical skills needed to get the job done.