IT Hiring: Does a Software Developer Have To Go to College?

A group of college graduates take a selfie, illustrating the decision in IT hiring to look for a college graduate as a software developer.

IT hiring has become even more challenging with the current labor shortage. With the rising cost of traditional four-year university education, more and more people are turning to self-education to learn the skills they need for their desired careers. This is especially true in software development, where a college degree is not always necessary to succeed. So, should you hire a self-taught software developer? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.

The Pros a Self-Taught Software Developer in IT Hiring

Self-taught developers are often more driven and passionate than their traditionally educated counterparts.

There is a common misconception in IT hiring that self-taught developers are not as passionate or driven as those who have been through traditional education programs. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, many self-taught developers are more driven and passionate than their counterparts. They have had to overcome numerous challenges and obstacles to get where they are today. As a result, they are often more dedicated and committed to their work.

Additionally, self-taught developers tend to be more curious and inquisitive. They are constantly asking questions and seeking out new solutions. This allows them to stay ahead of the curve and maintain a strong knowledge base.

Self-taught developers tend to be better problem solvers.

Anyone who has ever attempted to learn a new programming language or build a complex web application knows that it takes a lot of time and effort. It’s true: there are plenty of resources available to help developers get started. However, there is no substitute for real-world experience. This is one of the many advantages of being a self-taught developer. Without the structure of formal education, self-taught developers are forced to find their own way, which often leads to a greater understanding of how things work.

This hands-on approach also makes self-taught developers better problem solvers. When confronted with a difficult coding challenge, they are more likely to experiment and try different solutions until they find one that works. In contrast, developers who have only learned from textbooks and lectures may be less likely to take risks and may struggle to find effective solutions.

Self-taught developers are typically more well-rounded.

This is because they are not limited to the curriculum of a single institution. They can learn from a variety of sources. These include online courses, meetups, and open-source projects. As a result, self-taught developers are often better equipped to solve problems and adapt to change. They are also more likely to be engaged in the community and have a network of peers to draw on for support.

While there is no one right way to become a developer, self-taught developers are proving that there is value in breaking the mold.

Self-taught developers are often more flexible and adaptable.

There are many advantages to receiving a formal education in software development. However, self-taught developers often have an edge in terms of flexibility and adaptability. Those who have gone through a traditional educational system often have a more rigid approach to problem-solving. As a result, they may be less open to new ideas.

In contrast, self-taught developers are used to learning on the fly and experimenting with different solutions. Consequently, they are often better able to adapt to new technologies and change course when necessary.

Self-taught developers tend to be more budget-conscious.

Without the benefit of scholarships or loans, self-taught developers must be mindful of their spending. As a result, they often develop creative solutions that are more cost-effective than those of their traditionally educated counterparts. For example, instead of attending an expensive coding BootCamp, a self-taught developer might opt for a less costly online course. Or instead of purchasing the latest and greatest tools, they might use open-source alternatives.

The Cons Self-Taught Developers in IT Hiring

Self-taught developers might not have as strong of a foundation in computer science.

Another potential downside of hiring a self-taught software developer is that they might not have formal training in computer science fundamentals. This means that they might not have a good understanding of algorithms, data structures, and other important concepts that are taught in college coursework. This lack of formal training might not be an issue for some businesses. Others might prefer developers with this type of background knowledge. 

Self-taught developers might not have as strong of a network.

Self-taught developers can often find support from online communities. However, they might not have the same level of access to mentors and other experienced developers as those who have gone through a traditional educational system. This can make it more difficult for self-taught developers to find answers to their questions or get feedback on their work.

Self-taught developers may have trouble working with teams of other developers.

One of the challenges that self-taught developers face is working with teams of other developers. They are not used to collaborative environments. As a result, they may have trouble understanding and responding to the expectations of team members.

In addition, they may find it difficult to keep up with the pace of work in a team setting or to integrate their own code with that of other developers. As a result, self-taught developers may need to spend some time learning how to work effectively in team settings before they can fully contribute to a project.

Self-taught developers might not be familiar with industry best practices.

Many self-taught developers are extremely capable coders. However, without a formal education in computer science, they might not be familiar with industry best practices. This can put them at a disadvantage when competing for jobs or working on projects with other developers. For example, a self-taught developer might be a whiz at coding. However, they might not know how to write efficient code or how to optimize algorithms. They also might not be familiar with design patterns or software development methodologies.

The Bottom Line About IT Hiring

Whether your IT hiring strategy includes a self-taught developer is ultimately a decision that depends on the needs of your business. If you are looking for a developer with strong computer science fundamentals, you might prefer to hire someone who has gone through a traditional educational system.

However, if you are more concerned with budget or finding a developer who can quickly find creative solutions, a self-taught developer might be a better option. In the end, the most important factor is to evaluate each candidate on their individual merits and to choose the person who is best suited for the job.

If you need help compiling your software development team, EC Group is here to help. Reach out to our team today.

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