To be a Developer: CS Degree, Boot Camp, Self Taught?

To be a Developer: CS Degree, Boot Camp, Self Taught?

Should I bother getting my Computer Science degree if I want a career in development and programming?

Let’s explore this topic and learn about my philosophy as I went through the journey of starting in programming before earning my computer science degree and my opinion.

My Journey

While I was in my senior year of high school I applied for a paid IT Internship with the district’s IT Department. During this internship I was exposed to my first ever programming language, which you can read more about here . At this point I had a mentor who helped show me some of the basics but the majority of my learning was self-taught.

Six months after I concluded my internship with the school district, I registered and applied for college through DeVry Online. I enrolled in a bachelor degree program where I majored in Web Application Design and Administration. During my course of study I was exposed to Web Development, Web Application Development, C# and Java programming. We used tools such as Dream Weaver and Visual Studio to create school projects. While enrolled I had a job as a IT technician supporting pharmacy point of sale software. In this position I found use of my programming skills to create small tools and utilities to be more efficient and eventually used C# to write an application for decoding barcodes on drivers licenses to fill in the Name, Address, and Drivers License information in our point of sale software when controlled prescriptions were picked up. I also wrote an on screen keyboard that was used on these touchscreen point of sale systems to make the businesses more efficient at entering information.

By the time I finished by Bachelor’s degree, I had a pretty good understanding of development and the processes. I had a portfolio of projects I had made using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript; I had projects I made with C#; and I had projects I made with Java. I used my skills in a new position as a IT Technician to grow our managed services business and create automation scripts for maintaining computers and servers.

I returned to University four years after finishing my Bachelor’s degree to pursue my Masters in Computer Science where I focused on IT Management so I could expand into a leadership role. I always planned to seek a higher education. My philosophy was to be appealing to employers as a candidate having both a CS Degree and several years of professional experience.

Computer Science Degree

Computer Science degrees are available from almost all accredited colleges and universities all across the world. There are several specialty areas in computer science from Development to Cyber Security and everything in between. Universities will teach you skills in more than just computer science, the key to universities is that they teach you how to learn. Universities break down subjects into small bite sizes pieces starting at zero knowledge and quickly advancing to intermediate level knowledge in 8-12 weeks.

My Bachelor’s degree was definitely more instructor led than my Master’s degree which required a lot of self teaching and individual research to learn and explore subject matter.

My Bachelor’s Degree exposed me to new languages, and programming concepts such as Use Cases for creating code. I also took standard classes such as humanities, economics, and math.

My Master’s Degree exposed me to new fundamentals in IT and leadership. I also learned technical documentation and became a certified associate project manager (CAPM). These skills proved extremely helpful in my career as a IT Manager and as a Developer.

A good candidate for the CS degree path is someone wanting to be a well rounded candidate for a career with both an education and useful job skills.


You can register for a bootcamp and start coding almost instantly these days. Boot camps offer you a diverse group of people, all interested in learning a specific programming language, framework, or library. Boot camps are nice because they expose you to a community and you work on real projects that you can put in your portfolio when you apply for development jobs. To be successful you need to immediately apply your skills after the bootcamp and keep developing projects. A good candidate for a bootcamp is someone who is fairly need to coding and wanting to get a deep experience without dedicating a multi-year education right away. The downside is that you may miss learning important real world job knowledge and skills that you would typically receive from a CS degree.

Self Taught Developer

Being a self taught developer takes a strong determination to learn and can be accomplished at a pretty quick rate. You can learn to be a developer in 6 months or less by setting aside a little bit of time every single day, or about 20 hours per week to study, learn, and practice what you’ve learned. The self taught developer has a strong passion for learning and a passion for programming. A good candidate for a self taught developer is someone wanting to branch into the field and control their learning path for content and duration. The downside to a self-taught developer is that you may miss real world knowledge of working in the development field that you may only find from a CS degree or bootcamp when working with a group.

My Suggestion

Having worked in the IT Industry for 15 years I still recommend a CS degree for everyone wanting to enter the computer science fields, at least a bachelor’s degree from a local college or university.

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