Self-Taught Routes: Pros and Cons for Tech Careers

By Chevas Balloun

Last Updated: June 5th 2024

Picture of a computer setup, indicating a self-taught tech career

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Embarking on a self-taught tech career provides flexibility, up-to-date knowledge, and cost savings. However, self-taught individuals may face challenges such as lack of industry recognition and mentorship. Despite hurdles, the tech industry increasingly values practical skills, creating opportunities for self-taught developers to thrive.

Check it out! Going the self-taught route to break into tech can be a real grind, but it's all about that hustle and making the most of what's out there. Real ones are sharing their stories of leveling up on platforms like FreeCodeCamp and GitHub, getting that hands-on exp.

But the job market can be a whole other battle. Even with mad skills, self-taught devs often face doubters from hirers, according to the buzz on Reddit and such.

That's why these coding warriors gotta get creative and flex their online presence, project portfolios, and all that to prove they're the real deal - just like Nucamp's tips on building a standout dev portfolio.

At the end of the day, it's all about showing you got the chops to hang with the latest tech trends, not just some fancy degree. But that doesn't mean it's a cakewalk - as the tech world keeps evolving, the self-taught gotta stay on their grind and find ways to get that recognition.

That's where Nucamp's coding bootcamp edu can level up the game, giving you that extra edge to shine. This blog's all about mapping out the pros and cons of going rogue vs.

traditional schooling, so you can boss up and own that tech terrain, no matter which path you take.

Table of Contents

  • The Self-Taught Route: What It Is
  • Pros of Being Self-Taught in Tech
  • Cons of Being Self-Taught in Tech
  • Comparing Self-Taught and Formal Education in Tech
  • Conclusion
  • Frequently Asked Questions

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The Self-Taught Route: What It Is


You know that whole 'self-taught programmer' thing? It's like the new hot trend in tech. A bunch of people are skipping the whole college route and just teaching themselves how to code.

It's like a whole new level of hustle!

According to some survey on Stack Overflow, nearly 70% of developers out there are at least partially self-taught.

Wild, right?

So, if you're trying to go that route, here's what you gotta do:

  1. Lock down them learning resources: Sites like GitHub, Stack Overflow, and even free online courses from places like Harvard's CS50 can give you the basics, you understand?
  2. Get that practice in: Build some projects that employers actually want, and hit up those hackathons. That'll help you turn all that theory into skills that'll get you hired, according to this ex-tech recruiter, Angelica Dietzel.
  3. Join the group: Online forums like Reddit are where you can get support from other coders dealing with the same struggles and questions.
  4. Never stop learning: Tech is always evolving, so you gotta stay up-to-date with newsletters, podcasts, MOOCs, and new courses.

There are so many self-taught options out there now, like coding bootcamps, MOOCs, and platforms like FreeCodeCamp and Codecademy.

They're making it way easier for anyone to get into tech, even if some companies still think they want those fancy college degrees. But look at individuals like Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey – they're self-taught and killing it! As one expert said, "The self-taught route in tech is no joke, but the flexibility and customized learning can't be beat."

At the end of the day, the self-taught path might be tough, but it's a legitimate way to break into the tech world, no matter who you are or where you're coming from.

Fill this form to download the Bootcamp Syllabus

And learn about Nucamp's Coding Bootcamps and why aspiring developers choose us.

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Pros of Being Self-Taught in Tech


Check this out! Learning to code on your own is the way to go. It's got mad perks like being able to do it on your own time, always learning the latest stuff, and saving some serious cash.

Self-taught devs are straight up passionate about what they do, and that drive leads to dope results.

They can switch up and learn new languages and tools quick, keeping their skills fresh as this article points out.

Plus, they're problem-solving masters from having to figure out so much on their own, making them clutch in tackling challenges with creative solutions.

Money-wise, skipping that pricey four-year computer science degree (we're talking over $40K!) and going the self-taught route is a game-changer.

You can tap into free or cheap resources like freeCodeCamp and others to learn in-demand skills like Python or JavaScript.

Then you can start putting that knowledge to work right away, which companies dig because it saves them time and money on training.

Big dogs like Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey have even shouted out self-learning as a key to their success, giving this path some serious street cred.

Check out this list of popular resources self-taught programmers use:

  • Interactive coding platforms: Hands-on practice with tools like Codecademy.
  • Open courseware: Free courses from top schools like MIT.
  • Developer communities: Places like GitHub where devs share projects and collab.
  • Tech blogs and podcasts: Stay up-to-date with the latest in tech.
  • Industry docs and tutorials: Solid guides like MDN Web Docs to help you level up.

As Steve Wozniak said,

"You don't need to have a computer science degree to be a developer. You just need the passion and the practice."

The self-taught path is all about that passion and putting in the work with the right resources.

Not only does it save you cash, but you get to learn exactly what you need, when you need it.

Cons of Being Self-Taught in Tech


Going the self-taught route in tech can be a real grind, but it's not impossible to make it happen. One major issue is that it can get pretty lonely since you're basically teaching yourself everything.

A survey found that nearly 30% of self-taught programmers feel isolated without any peers or mentors to collaborate with. That can really slow down your learning and problem-solving game.

Another big challenge is finding people to guide you along the way.

A whopping 83% of self-taught techies struggle to find mentors who can help them level up their skills and keep up with the latest trends. But let's be real, programming is no joke – it's a mental workout, and having someone to coach you through the tough parts can make a huge difference.

Even if you manage to teach yourself all the coding skills in the world, you might still face some hurdles when it comes to landing a job.

While most hiring managers believe self-taught candidates are just as capable, only about half of them actually consider hiring them for tech roles. That's a bummer, but it just means you gotta work a little harder to prove your worth.

To make yourself stand out, you'll need to build up a killer online presence and portfolio to show off your skills.

Contributing to open-source projects can also help demonstrate your abilities to potential employers. A huge 86.8% of developers out there are self-taught, so it's totally possible to make it in the industry without formal training.

Here are some tips to help you slay the self-taught game:

  • Collaborate on projects online to avoid feeling isolated and get some visibility.
  • Join online communities and tech meetups to network and find mentors.
  • Get certified or earn badges from online courses to boost your credibility.

At the end of the day, being a self-taught tech pro is all about adapting and continuously learning.

It's a grind, but if you've got the passion and determination, you can definitely make it happen. Your journey will show employers that you're a relentless problem-solver – a skill that's super valuable in the tech world.

Fill this form to download the Bootcamp Syllabus

And learn about Nucamp's Coding Bootcamps and why aspiring developers choose us.

*By checking "I Agree", you are opting-in to receive information, including text messages from Nucamp. You also agree to the following Terms of use, SMS Terms of use & Privacy Policy. Reply STOP to stop receiving text messages.

Comparing Self-Taught and Formal Education in Tech


The tech world's all riled up about whether self-taught coders are as good as those with fancy degrees. But according to a Stack Overflow survey, over half the devs out there don't even have a computer science degree! Crazy, right? Turns out, a lot of employers care more about what you can actually do than some dusty old degree.

So, if you're a self-taught whiz, you've got a shot.

While a four-year CS degree can cost you anywhere from $10,000 to a whopping $70,000 per year, you can teach yourself for next to nothing with all the free resources out there.

Talk about a bargain!

  • Success stories of self-taught devs going viral are proof that dedication and skills can outshine those credentials, especially when people switch careers and jump into tech from completely different fields.
  • Employers are getting hip to the idea that practical skills in languages like JavaScript and Python matter more than some outdated curriculum. A discussion on bootcamps and online learning platforms shows they're the future of education.

Sure, a degree might give you a head start, but self-taught coders are catching up fast.

Bootcamps and online platforms like Nucamp are giving people the skills they need in way less time and for way less cash.

Bootcamp grads see a serious bump in their salaries after finishing, so it's a solid investment. Bottom line, both paths can lead to a sweet tech career. But in this fast-moving field, continuous learning and keeping your skills sharp is what really matters, no matter how you got started.

The saying "Skills matter more than degrees" is gospel in the tech world.



The tech world is lit AF, always changing like your favorite TikTok trends. The big dogs are saying that being able to adapt and learn new things is key to securing those future bag$ in the job market.

In this space, being self-taught in tech ain't no joke - it's a flex, showing your drive and hustle, and how you can use all those dope online resources to level up.

While having a fancy degree used to be the way to go, the game is shifting now.

Companies are starting to value real-world experience and skills over degrees. Self-taught pros often get to apply what they know straight away, have mad flexibility, and don't have to stress about crazy tuition fees.

But real talk, going it alone can mean missing out on some key knowledge or struggling to break into the industry without those official creds. Still, companies are opening their eyes to the fresh perspectives and innovative problem-solving skills that come from taking the non-traditional route.

Jessica Miller's journey into UX design - she slayed it without a formal education, proving that self-study is a viable option.

Self-teaching takes serious commitment, but the tech industry's changing views are opening up a whole new world for these dedicated learners.

Nucamp's bootcamps and courses, like the Web Development Fundamentals Bootcamp, are all about making tech education accessible and aligning with this new paradigm.

As Hadi Partovi said, "In technology, it's not about having a degree, it's about having the skills" - straight facts.

In the end, the self-taught vs. formally educated debate is becoming less black and white and more of a blend.

The more the industry values practical skills and real-world application, the more opportunities there are for self-taught devs. It's a sign that the tech game is always evolving, and those who can keep learning, growing, and adapting are the ones who'll come out on top.

Fill this form to download the Bootcamp Syllabus

And learn about Nucamp's Coding Bootcamps and why aspiring developers choose us.

*By checking "I Agree", you are opting-in to receive information, including text messages from Nucamp. You also agree to the following Terms of use, SMS Terms of use & Privacy Policy. Reply STOP to stop receiving text messages.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the self-taught route in tech?

The self-taught route in tech refers to individuals leveraging resources outside of formal education to build their technical skillsets. It involves disciplined, self-directed study using platforms like GitHub, Stack Overflow, and free online courses for learning and building projects.

What are the pros of being self-taught in tech?

Embarking on a self-taught journey in tech offers flexibility, up-to-date knowledge, and cost efficiency. Self-taught developers demonstrate passion and motivation, rapidly adapt to new technologies, have strong problem-solving skills, and save on the costs of traditional education.

What are the cons of being self-taught in tech?

Challenges of being self-taught in tech include feelings of isolation, lack of proper guidance, and issues with industry recognition. Self-taught individuals may struggle to find mentorship opportunities and face barriers in gaining credentials that are recognized by employers.

How does self-taught education compare to formal education in tech?

While formal education remains prevalent, self-taught tech professionals can succeed through hands-on experience and demonstrable skills. Self-taught individuals save on costs and are valued for their practical abilities, showcasing that continuous learning and skill acquisition are essential regardless of the chosen path.

What can individuals learn from the comparison of self-taught and formal education in tech?

The comparison highlights that skills and real-world application are increasingly valued in the tech industry over formal degrees. Both self-taught and formally educated professionals have viable routes into tech careers, emphasizing the importance of continuous learning, adaptability, and a strong skill set for success.

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Chevas Balloun

Director of Marketing & Brand

Chevas has spent over 15 years inventing brands, designing interfaces, and driving engagement for companies like Microsoft. He is a practiced writer, a productivity app inventor, board game designer, and has a builder-mentality drives entrepreneurship.