Many computer science fields do not require a university degree; here’s why

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By Sam Wambugu

Contrary to popular belief, starting a career in one of the many branches of information technology or IT does not necessarily require a college degree. Additionally, many students who enroll in degree programs complain that they cannot make the connection between some of the courses they learn in college and the IT career they want.

In a changing IT market, employers around the world are turning to people with professional certifications, internships and apprenticeships in place of a college degree.

Despite this shift in job requirements, many students and their parents cling to outdated views of the industry and overstate the importance of a college degree.

In Kenya, the past 15 years have seen universities proliferate in every corner of the country in their quest to quench the thirst for a degree, a model that has proven to be financially powerless.

Having a college degree is not, in many cases, a predictor of success in a career or in life in general. Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, the brains behind the Apple product suite, and Oracle’s Larry Ellison are just a few of the long list of tech luminaries without a degree.

Globally, tech industry giants Google and Apple have a penchant for professionals without a degree. Rather, they opt for the skills and experience needed in the sector.

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A report from LinkedIn, the leading social media platform for professionals, shows that some of the top tech companies don’t require degrees for most of their employees, including their top tech experts.

Take web developers, the people who build websites. They don’t need to spend many years in college or spend tons of money to get a college degree. What is required to excel at this job are general skills such as good communication and project planning skills, and technical acumen such as working knowledge of the HTML programming language and proficiency in publishing tools.

Web design is another tech career that just like a web developer doesn’t have specific educational requirements requiring a four-year degree.

Likewise, Help Desk professionals, the people we turn to when we have an IT problem, don’t need a college degree to resolve customer technical issues.

Many other jobs, including social media management specialists, can be performed effectively by someone with the right mix of technological and social skills achievable within a few years of post-secondary education.

These relatively short-term, competency-based courses come at a lower price than what you pay at a university. Presenting these qualifications on a resume makes it easier for hiring managers to match their needs with the skills and experiences of candidates. While in many fields one or more university degrees are required, the right combination of certifications and practical experience shines brightly in many IT fields. They have better returns for your investment.

SamWambungu is a computer scientist [email protected]
Twitter: # Samwambugu2

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