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Should I Go to College for a Career in Web Development?

January 20, 2015

Two Roads Diverged in a Yellow Wood

There are many roads to a career in web development. Whatever you choose, if you stick with it, you will get there. We don’t think you have to pay for education in this industry. Everything you need to learn is available for free online (probably more than any other industry). Even computer science-focused topics about low-level languages, data types and logic are free from MIT and other OpenCourseWare sources (we talked about that in ep7, Introduction to a Career in Web Development). That’s the kind of stuff you would learn in college (among other things).

Show Your Work

The most important thing in the industry is showing your work. A Computer Science degree has its place, but that’s more in line with traditional software engineering (building applications to run on an operating system like Windows or Mac OS).

My advice and that of Ryan Carson, founder of Treehouse, is to skip college. If web dev is what you want and there isn’t anything else you want from college, skip it. Seriously, it’s expensive and there is no guarantee that having the degree or certificate will get you a job. Employers expect you to prove yourself with a portfolio.

Debt Will Shackle You

If you pay for college with debt you won’t have as much flexibility when looking for a job. You’ll have to make a certain minimum wage to pay back loans. That means you could miss out on an entry level position that might provide incredible experience but that offers a lower wage. With debt, you might not be able afford that lower wage and thus the great learning experience.

Start Now

Get a day job doing anything you can, in the industry if possible but that’s not as important, it’s only meant to support you while you learn. Work at night and on weekends to learn skills and build projects (or whatever schedule works for you). If you do that for a year while also tapping into a community and networking with others in the industry, we’re confident that you’ll be equipped and poised for an entry level or better job.

To be perfectly clear, you can pay for education in web devlopment outside of college. You don’t have to but there are numerous companies that offer such services.

Start Here


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