Should You Teach Yourself Programming Or Get A Degree In 2018?

If you do not know me personally then you might not know this but for 5 years I was a professor at multiple Universities/Schools.

I have taught in large Universities and in small trade schools, everything from Network Engineering to Software Development. Those who do know this about me are always curious if they should continue self teaching themselves programming or pursue a formal programming degree from an accredited institution.

When it comes to web development and programming I believe that self teaching yourself and diving in to web development is a better use of time than spending time pursuing a degree. Years ago the only way to really learn development was to actually go to a University however with all the information on programming at your fingertips online there is really no reason to pursue a degree anymore.

But can I still get hired?

The answer is YES! You can definitely get hired without a degree as a software/web developer. Most companies don’t really care if you have a degree and would rather see actual work you have done than seeing a piece of paper saying you have studied programming theory. Most companies see a degree as a plus but mostly because it shows commitment and that you followed through with one of your goals. But is it required to work for companies such as Google or Microsoft? No not at all.

So how can I teach myself programming?

There are two primary ways you can teach yourself programming.

You can read a book on what ever programming langues you choose to learn the basics or you can take an online course.

Which method do you recommend?

Honestly this is personal choice, some people learn better by reading and other learn better by visual and audio lecture. I personally recommend taking an online course, most of them are free on youtube with others selling for as little as $10 USD on www.Udemy.com. I dont like to recommend books because the software development industry moves fast and books cant keep up. By the time a book is published the information is already old and may no longer apply.

Which programming language should I start with?

The truth is now a days all programming langues are very powerful. So regardless of the language you choose, you will be able to create awesome apps. The language you choose should be based on what you plan on making. If you are planning on developing mobile apps for Android then you may want to focus on Java or Kotlin. Most developers go into the field because developing software is fun, but we still need to make a living. With that said another factor in what programming language you choose to learn first may be based on job market opportunities. For example if you are planning on working with small websites for local companies then you may want to learn PHP (PHP can also be used for large scale applications) as PHP powers many popular and widely used Content Management Systems (CMS) such as WordPress or Drupal. If you are planning on working with larger companies such as banks then Java or C# might be the way to go. You may also want to check what the demand in your area is, if you plan on making money with your new PHP skills but companies in your area are hiring Python developers then you may not be able to find much work in your area.