Years ago, starting a career in software engineering required a degree in computer science. These days — thanks to the development of programming languages, availability of open-source materials, and the professional level of bootcamps and studying alternatives — the path has become a winding road.
Nevertheless, during your job search, you will encounter requirements of a “higher degree in a relevant field”, which in this case is computer science. What does it mean? Is a degree inevitable for starting a career in software engineering? What if you already have a bachelor's or master's degree in a non-relevant field - will it prevent you from getting a well-paid job in IT?
It's reasonable to have these concerns before beginning your bootcamp courses, and you should be certain that your experience and certification will be sufficient to launch a career in tech! Let's look into the topic.
Which jobs require a computer science degree?
Different tech professions require a diverse set of skills. Senior positions are filled with candidates with impressive portfolios matching the company’s profile, while entry and mid-level jobs are more flexible. The requirements also get higher and more specific as the organization grows in size.
In some job offers you will see that only applicants with a computer science degree will be considered. As a rule, this stands with positions that involve people management, IT engineering, and cybersecurity infrastructure.
However, there are jobs that do not require a degree. These are roles in software/web/mobile development, in which the major requirement is to be able to write clean and efficient code. Employers may focus on highlighting specific soft skills in the job offers to get a cultural match, but a degree in computer science is not a must for software developers.
Many companies will hire applicants with various backgrounds, as long as they have some sort of work experience (including bootcamps). Companies are looking for transferable skills, especially for entry-mid level roles. As long as you have a basic understanding of the technology, they want to see that you are coachable, ready to learn, and willing to contribute to the team. Christina Guida, TripleTen Career Coach
Do you need computer science to become a software developer or engineer?
First, let’s distinguish software engineering from software development.
Software engineering is a broader field where not only coding is involved. You will need to have an overall understanding of how applications work: the role of databases, software integrations, and data entry and processing. Your role resembles the role of an architect, where you need to consider all parts of your building to get a satisfying result.
Software development generally involves a lot of coding, writing programs, and applications. Most of the time, you will have clear requirements and specifications coming from the architectural and product teams. Your main task will be to dive into the problem and solve it with best practices. Often, your ability to find solutions on Google will add to your success.
And still, you don’t necessarily need to dedicate four years of your life and sufficient tuition funds to understand all that. Many successful software engineers obtained the needed qualifications through self-study, coding bootcamps, online courses, or on-the-job training. The co-creator of Apple, Steve Jobs, is one of the best examples of a technical person who disrupted the industry with no formal education in computer science.
How to get around a technical interview
Some job seekers think a computer science degree is essential for a technical interview, which are often built on a series of theoretical and practical questions to determine your skills in programming.
A degree in computer science or a similar discipline can provide you with a good foundation in programming. It might also show potential employers that you have a solid educational background and are committed to the industry. However, professional bootcamps like TripleTen help you master the fundamentals of software engineering and successfully pass a technical interview. Refreshing the fundamentals of your programming language, some preparation, and practice will be just enough to pass a technical interview.
What will you know upon graduating from college vs bootcamp? Let’s compare:
Bachelor in Computer Science
- Building and maintaining software and web applications in the respective language (often Java or C++).
- Understanding application design both on an architectural and a UX level.
- Basics of calculus, data mining, algorithms, and operational systems.
- Science: the ability to pursue an academic career.
TripleTen Software Engineering Bootcamp Graduate
- Understanding application design both on an architectural and a UX level. Working with Figma, Miro, and visuals software.
- Fundamentals of algorithms needed to pass a technical interview.
- Career preparation and acceleration.*
*The career acceleration course is available for U.S. residents.