Can you learn to code without college? Yes!

Can you learn to code without college? Yes!

Ever wondered if you can learn to code without college? You definitely can! On No CS Degree you can find 200 examples of ordinary people who learned to code on their own or by going to coding bootcamps.

The old way of learning to code

Traditionally, you had to study a 4 year degree at college to have a chance at getting a job as a programmer. Not interested in coding aged 18? Tough luck! This was never very fair but it worked for the tech industry when there wasn't a high demand for software engineers.

The demand for coders goes up

Thankfully, with the huge growth in the tech sector in the past 25 years, there has been a huge increase in the need to hire developers. Demand for software engineers has outstripped the supply of programmers. So most companies have relaxed their hiring requirements.

Do some companies still require a CS degree to hire you? Sure, some do. But there are far more opportunities now for developers without a Computer Science degree.

Can you teach yourself to code?

There are lots of ways of learning to code these days instead of going back to college. You can be a self-taught developer and learn through resources like YouTube, paid video courses, ebooks, real books and lots more.

The advantage of this is that it's cheap. With big YouTube channels like Net Ninja, you can learn every aspect of coding for free! You can also pay for single video courses on different coding languages like JavaScript. Or you can pay a monthly or annual subscription to learning platforms like Scrimba (affiliate) or Zero to Mastery and get unlimited access to lots of different video courses from a range of tutors.

You could spend a couple of hundred dollars and learn more than enough to get a job. Compare that with the tens of thousands of dollars that college courses cost and it starts to look like an excellent option!

The disadvantage of learning to code on your own is you are on your own. You don't have a teacher to ask questions. You don't have the camaraderie of learning with other people. Also, you have to choose what you learn whereas a coding bootcamp lays out a map of what you should learn.

Learning to code at bootcamps

Or you can go to a coding bootcamp where you pay a fee and usually study full-time for 3-6 months. You typically don't need any specific educational background to go to a coding bootcamp. Enthusiasm for learning to code will give you an edge. Some coding bootcamps also offer part-time courses which allow you to stay working and earning a pay cheque.

Some coding bootcamps are free but will take a percentage of your future earnings. Others will charge an upfront fee. You should definitely do your own research before paying for a coding bootcamp.

An advantage of coding bootcamps is that you should get support on writing a resumé and applying for jobs. Bootcamps are incentivized to find you a job because if they don't, they won't be able to attract more students.

For people that are more socially minded, you also get to learn with other people. If you are someone who likes teamwork, you'll enjoy this aspect of coding bootcamps as they often require you do a team project.

The disadvantage to bootcamps is obviously it costs more.

Is it realistic to get a programming job without a degree?

You can definitely get a programming job without a CS degree (or any degree, in a lot of cases). A lot of modern employers prioritize skills and experience over qualifications. There are 200 success stories published on this website showing examples of people getting a job (or creating their own startup).

For instance, Josephine Hertog discovered the joy of backpacked and wanted to find a job that would allow her to earn money while travelling. She settled on coding and taught herself to code using cheap courses from Udemy. While she was living in Vietnam, she got a job with Veed, an online video editing startup that subsequently raised $25m in 2022 from Sequioa. She is now an Engineering Manager at Veed.


Jessie changed job from sales to Software Engineer. She attended a 5 month part-time free course from Sky and learned to code that way. Jessie was working in sales at her company and her Software Engineer colleagues encouraged her to keep coding and apply for a job in their department. She said changed career within a company gave her an advantage.

Starting a business without a Computer Science degree

Nick Fogle made a successful tech startup without going to college for Computer Science. Nick was the co-founder of Waave, a tech startup which generated audio descriptions of text. He and his grew it to $150k in monthly recurring revenue before selling it in 2021 for a life-changing sum of money. Nick had started a law degree but he realised that he wanted to build his own business and started to learn to code on his own, preferring this route to coding bootcamps.

Dashiell Bark-Huss wanted to make an inclusive wish-list website but she didn't know how. So she moved back home and started learning to code with free resources like YouTube and challenged herself to code every day and document what she had learned. In June 2022 her startup Wish Tender was making $14,000 in monthly profit.

On the other hand, Pat Walls learned to code at a coding bootcamp. He joined a tech startup and eventually created his own website showing successful startup founder interviews, Starter Story. He coded the website himself with the coding framework Ruby on Rails and as of 2023, it makes more than $1.5m in annual revenue.

Can you learn coding at any age?

Age is not a barrier to learning to code. If you can believe you can achieve!

Matt Lintz was working in a sawmill before learning to code at 30.

Matt learned to code in his 50s after going to a coding bootcamp.

Earning more with coding

Mariano increased his earnings 84-fold by learning to code in his native country of Argentina and getting a remote job with a US company. There are lots of other examples on the home page of No CS Degree of people raising their incomes after learning to code.

Can coding be fun?

Coding is a lot of fun! Imagine being able to build any website or mobile app you like? Pretty cool!

Once you learn programming you can make fun projects from a novelty dating website to a dad jokes app.

Sean Miller created SnapCrap, an app for reporting dog excrement to San Francisco city authorities.

Jason created a website for submitting demos to music labels, SubmitHub, which made him millions of dollars

Alexey learned to code and made a translation app which is used by 800,000 people!

Marc Köhlbrugge is a Dutch self-taught programmer and made a website RoomAI where you can design your own home using artificial intelligence

About the author
Pete Codes

Pete Codes

Hey, I'm Pete and the creator of this site. I am a self-taught web developer and I'm based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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