Does a Computer Programmer Really Need a College Degree by Craig Middleton

Does a Computer Programmer Really Need a College Degree by Craig Middleton notes that most programmers have a degree in something, but that thanks to the pandemic, we have a lot of new professional programers who used resources like coding camps to gain the skills necessary to land good programming jobs without a programming degree.


  • You have undoubtedly noticed the expansion of the internet of things (IoT) into every aspect of your life. You can turn on your porch lights, turn up the thermostat, and preheat the oven while you are still in your office—assuming you are working from an office these days. The time is approaching when physicians in one part of the world can robotically perform surgery on another continent. An ever-increasing complexity and the integration of multiple systems seem to be the order of the coming digital age. One of the careers that is exploding in numerical growth as well as specialization is computer programming. This causes a question to arise: do computer programmers need to have heightened advanced training before they leap into developing apps and software? Specifically, should programmers be required to have a college degree in programming?

What Kind of Issues Must a Programmers Deal With?

  • In order to answer that question, you first must have a grasp of what sort of technical challenges as well as real-world concerns programmers face when creating code for a workable, dependable program. While the complexity of programming grows because of the many added options coders must deal with, the basic underlying syntax tree, that is, the shortcut diagram of potential possibilities, still looks the same as it did in the old days before microcomputers and the internet became much larger. This implies that programming, while more complex, is unchanged in its essential nature.

What Education Do Most Programmers Have?

  • What does this mean as far as the educational credentials required for the folks writing the programs? The bottom line, as of almost 80 years since computer programming became a thing, is that most professional programmers (those who get paid to do it) do have college bachelor’s degrees. That does not mean their degrees are necessarily in computer science. Neither does it mean that future programmers want a four-year degree in anything. The reality is that a boom in coding “boot camps” is ongoing. Potential programmers want to learn the various coding languages as quickly as possible. As it currently stands, most professional programmers have a degree in something, while newcomers want to know how to code but tend not to be interested in a degree.

What Does the Future Hold for Programming as a Career?

  • Forbes reported in a recent article that enrollment in coding camps increased by almost 50% over a two-year period and that was before the pandemic demonstrated you can stay at home and have a productive, well-paid career. Thus, there is currently a flood of new potential programmers, who will not have college degrees, and concurrently there is a great need for programmers. According to the article, there will be a winnowing process that follows because programming requires some distinct abilities:
    Extreme attention to perfect detail
    Ability to think abstractly
    Ability to think logically
    The bottom line is that programmers are growing in number at least temporarily and newer ones are less concerned about having a college degree.

What is the Ideal Education for a Programmer?

  • You should start with the recognition that a programmer or coder is not a software engineer. This simply means that you are not creating computer language as you go. Instead, you are using tools others have already developed. Also, begin with the notion that you have carefully considered your own personality and believe you would enjoy a career as a programmer. One school of thought is that you should definitely have some background in computer science, at least an associate’s degree and that you should learn a variety of different computer languages. Different languages are required depending upon whether you are writing smartphone apps, website structures, or software to run on the internet.

Dr Doug’s Advice

  • In my view you are better off learning programming online at your own pace rather than in high school or college classes that are typically one-size-fits-all. People with a knack for programming can learn languages fast on their own. The same is true for learning software products like Photoshop and Final Cut Pro. A quick search for “free online programming courses” should get you started. Many start out free and then change for additional instruction. That seems fair to me. You should also investigate which language to learn first. From what I’ve seen, Python looks like a good way to go. After that, learn whichever languages seem to be the best for the kind of programming you or your new book wants you to do. Good luck.

Craig Middleton

  • Craig is a New York City-based retired business consultant, who is an expert in education and cultural trends. He has a Masters of Business Administration and a Masters in Education from St. Johns and loves sharing his knowledge on the side through his writing. If you have any questions or comments you can direct them to Craig at
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