Does a Web Developer Need a Computer Science Degree?

Web design and Development as a service has grown over the years. Especially since access to tutorials on How To Code, has flourished. People have started to learn how to code either as a hobby or with the goal of starting a new business. What once seemed only doable by those who are college educated and in particular, who are either getting or have obtained a computer science degree, is now possible for just about everyone. But does this mean you don’t need a computer science degree?

The Value of a Computer Science Degree

Having a Computer Science Degree is obviously not going to hurt. A computer science degree demonstrates your knowledge and capabilities. Often, large companies require a job applicant to have a computer science degree or related degree in order to work at the company. Note: this is changing as some major companies like Google and others no longer have this requirement.

When you go to college, you’re being taught in an environment that is conducive to learning. You also have the benefit of being taught by a person who should have the skills you’re looking to learn. The structure of a college course and the learning path ensures that you learn not only the fundamentals but also that you don’t have many gaps in your knowledge. Gaps in knowledge can be a stumbling block in learning to code.

Learning in a college environment is also beneficial because you’ll be surrounded by other students you can chat with when you run into an issue. This is worth it’s weight in gold since it can be extremely challenging staying focused and positive when you run into a problem and no one around that can help.

So it sounds like a college degree and particularly a computer science degree is vital if you want to be a coder or web developer. Continue reading.

Why You Don’t Need a Computer Science Degree

After what I just mentioned above, it might seem like having a degree in computer science is absolutely a must for anyone who wants to be a coder or developer. But you actually don’t need a degree and here’s why.

The Freelance Web Developer

If your goal is to become a freelance web developer, then having a computer science degree isn’t vital. Designing and Developing a website is often done with this coding stack:

  • HTML – This is the markup language used by every website online. Consider it the skeleton of a website.
  • CSS – This is what gives HTML some styling. It makes what can be boring text based content, more visually appealing.
  • JavaScript – This provides some client side dynamic features which improve the user experience. You can also use JavaScript on the server side with NodeJS.
  • jQuery – This is a library used for JavaScript which makes your code work the same across browsers and reduces the amount of code you actually have to write.
  • PHP – This is a server side scripting language. It’s the most popular coding language for dynamic server side functionality and is used by around 80% of modern, dynamic websites. Here’s a video I created titled “Should you Learn PHP
  • MySQL – This is a database used by websites. Typically this is used with PHP.
  • Linux – While Windows might be the most popular Operating system for home computers, Linux dominates the web server market.
  • WordPress – This is a content management system which makes it easy for website owners to create content without having to know how to code. WordPress uses themes and plugins which are used for the front end design and back end functionality of a site. Themes and Plugins are coded by developers.

The coding languages, database and operating system I mentioned above are all extremely well documented and if you run a google search on each of them, you will have millions of results. I always recommend first checking out the documentation pages of each language since that will often be the most accurate and up to date information to learn from. Besides Google, you can always watch YouTube Videos that can give you a guided approach to learning how to code. For example, I’ve created several videos on How To Code a WordPress Theme and that has helped thousands of people get started in WordPress Development.

Besides Google and YouTube, you can always purchase books, take online learning courses from the ever growing list of online training sites or you can even attend a Coding BootCamp where you get immersed in coding. The BootCamp experience is ideal for those who want or need the structure and guidance offered from a school like environment.

Companies Don’t Always Require a Computer Science Degree

As I mentioned earlier, companies are changing their requirements due to the fact that people are becoming self taught coders and some who are self taught are even better than those who are taught in college. The flip side is also true.

So if you’re looking to get a job at a major company, it’s likely that they might hire you if you demonstrate that you have the skills needed and the capability and desire to learn.

Becoming a Self Taught Web Developer

As you can tell by now, having a computer science degree is no longer a requirement, although it can be very beneficial. If you want to be a coder, web developer, app developer etc, you need to learn how to code. This doesn’t mean it’s easy. Learning to code is likely to be one of the most difficult things you may ever try doing. It will be challenging and setting aside the time to learn is often the most difficult. This is where discipline comes in.

How Long will it take to Learn to Code

This is a topic for another post but the gist of it is it depends. Some people can learn things very quickly while others may take years just to get the basics. It also depends on how much time you put into learning how to code.

If you set aside just 1 hour a day to learn code and you don’t take any days off, that will equal 365 hours in one year. If you take the basic rule of 10,000 hours to master most things, it will take you a little over 27 years to become a master coder. Now I’m not saying you have to be a Master Coder in order to get work, matter of fact, most coders who are making a living aren’t masters yet. But I use the 10,000 rule for demonstration purposes.

Now let’s say you dedicate 3 hours per day without any days off. Now this translates to 1,095 hours a year which means you can theoretically become a master coder in less than 10 years. Now we can take this further by studying more hours per day but I think the sweet spot is about 4-5 hours a day.

4 To 5 Hours a Day of Learning To Code, Are You Joking?

You might be ready to slam your laptop shut, don’t. You might be laughing and saying this is ridiculous, and for some it might be. But let me ask you a question, how much time do you spend watching TV or on Social Media? The average person spends more than 5 hours a day on both activities combined.

It comes down to how badly you want it and are you disciplined enough to make it happen. I previously wrote an article on How To Learn To Code Faster and I also have a video for it as well. Learn To Code fast. Definitely check both of those out. Your study habits and resources used will be vital to ensuring you learn to code properly.

The Takeaway

While having a computer science degree is definitely helpful, it’s no longer an absolute must. You can be very successful as a self taught web developer as long as you put in the time and effort required.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read this article. Also, take a look at the video where I share more thoughts on this topic. Does a Web Developer Need a Computer Science Degree?. If you enjoyed it, please share it with others who might also benefit from reading or viewing it. Take care.

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