Aaron Pollack is another example. While working doing tech support for a startup he began learning Python in his spare time – through self-study, using a tutor he found on Craigslist, on two six-week courses offered by Coursera, and at a coding boot camp.
"Doing the algorithms classes on Coursera made me a stronger applicant for the bootcamp and for jobs afterwards," he says. "But I really learned programming by hacking on different apps, going to events and meetups, and bothering as many people as I could about technology."
While attending computer science courses at a college may cost tens of thousands of dollars per year, anyone can learn to code for the price of a text book, or for free, by accessing online courses offered by MOOCs. For a more formal qualification, MOOCs offer qualifications for far less than typical university fees. For example, Udacity offer courses leading to a "nanodegree" qualification for $199 per month, with half refunded if the course is completed in under a year, or a course with a guaranteed job within six months of graduation – or a full refund – for $299.
So ... degree, or no degree?
So going back to the original question, which is more attractive: someone with a computer science degree or someone with more quickly acquired but more language specific coding skills?
"You certainly get more depth of learning with a computer science degree, but shorter courses have an emphasis on more current skills," says Gartner's Lowendahl.
"When it comes to productivity and ingenuity, you can get that from either type of course. At the end of the day it comes down to a person's competence and grit," he says.
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