5 Replies - 802 Views - Last Post: 17 March 2014 - 02:41 PM

#1 Rhino1111  Icon User is offline

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Which is more important - Work experience or credentials?

Posted 14 March 2014 - 08:45 PM

Say you are "self taught", and haven't received a degree from a post-secondary program. But you have plenty of working projects and code to show to a potential employer. You have an extensive knowledge in the required fields for the job(so you'd likely be able to answer all the interview questions with competent answers).

Do you think the lack of a post-secondary degree would hurt your chances of being chosen over somebody with a degree but less actual work experience / no work experience?

Would a lack of degree make it difficult to even be called back for an interview, even if you specify you have work experience in the field and actual working projects to show them(similar to what you'd be developing for them.)


I know these questions are really subjective, but I'm curious about other peoples experiences in these/similar situations.

I've recently hit a brick wall with my decision of whether or not to attain a post-secondary education in computer science. Everybody who's taken this route, Says that their degree is a joke (stupid classes, course only teaches them basics of like 3 languages instead of making them extremely fluent in 1, etc.) They all feel as though they wasted money taking these classes. (In fact, I've self taught myself better in the past 6 months than some of the people actually taking comp sci courses). I really don't want to throw away all the K's I have saved up, and feel like I've wasted my money at the end of it. I also feel like I can "self teach" myself everything these courses offer, but for WAAAAY cheaper. (I mean really, a $50 book is pretty much the equivalent of a course you'd take on the subject.)

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Replies To: Which is more important - Work experience or credentials?

#2 Apokio  Icon User is offline

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Re: Which is more important - Work experience or credentials?

Posted 15 March 2014 - 02:17 AM

I know plenty of people who code full time without degrees. Some had lots of personal to show and some just landed jobs. If you go into getting a degree thinking it will be a waste of time then you will make it a waste of time. If you go into an interview without a degree and have confidence in your skills it will show and make a impression. It is really up to you. You are the only one who will know what will work for you.
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#3 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: Which is more important - Work experience or credentials?

Posted 15 March 2014 - 07:59 PM

The people who got the degree will have one advantage over you, and that's that they have a ticket into the interview. Like it or not, the degree does open some doors, and lots of CS programs will work to put you into internships and then hand you over to professional career counsellors, who can help a lot in getting you that first job. So if you're going to forge ahead on your own, you should make sure you have some plan for dealing with the fact that you have neither of those things.

If you ask me, the question of whether a CS degree is "worth the money" is far too simplistic to be worth asking. No two schools have the same programs and the same professors, and no two students will respond the same way to the same program, so if you ask a dozen people who attended various schools or learned it all from books, you're going to gather exactly no information. One thing to be careful of is the tendency to overestimate your own skill level. This is a huge problem, and the smarter you are, the more likely you are to fall into it. So if you think you can learn everything you need to learn on your own - how do you know? How would you test that hypothesis? Basically, if you decide to be self-taught, at some point you're going to want to have a red flag to tell you "hey, this isn't working, try something else" or you're going to waste a lot of time and end up in school anyway. What are you going to use for that red flag?

Another thing to keep in mind is that, in my experience, people who say they didn't learn anything from a class are usually right - but it's almost never because the class had nothing to teach them. So you might want to be a little wary of people who give you that report.
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#4 axel1994  Icon User is offline

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Re: Which is more important - Work experience or credentials?

Posted 16 March 2014 - 03:15 AM

I'm a computer science student myself.

Further Computer science is not just programming.
Computer science is the science of formalized computation. In essence, it's math (in fact, many CS programs started off as applied mathematics programs). Maybe the people that reported to you expected it to be more programming?

People often see portfolio's and degrees as a or-or situation which is incorrect.

This post has been edited by axel1994: 16 March 2014 - 03:26 AM

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#5 astonecipher  Icon User is offline

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Re: Which is more important - Work experience or credentials?

Posted 17 March 2014 - 01:51 PM

I know people in both camps. One received his comp sci degree when it was a brand new subject being offered at universities. The other was self taught. Both have companies clamouring to hire them. Granted the one with the degree countinues to take classes and further his education to stay current, but at the same time the one without the degree would gain nothing getting one, he is already on the highend of the pay scale after being in the role for 20 years.

Having a degree may open doors as far as the interview goes, but the knowledge and other attributes are what get the position.
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#6 AdamSpeight2008  Icon User is offline

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Re: Which is more important - Work experience or credentials?

Posted 17 March 2014 - 02:41 PM

Experience wins everytime. Show me what you've done, coded, built, produced including your failures as well as your successes.
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