Main image of article Do Recruiters Prefer Tech Candidates with College Degrees?

Do you need a formal degree to land a job in tech? That’s a complicated question. On one hand, many organizations list a bachelor’s degree (or higher) as a requirement on job postings. But on the other, many executives say they’re more than happy to hire tech talent without any kind of higher education—so long as that talent has the right skills for the job.

HackerEarth’s latest State of the Developer Ecosystem report, drawn from “thousands” of responses from developers, hiring managers, and tech recruiters, suggests that recruiters still see college degrees as important, even edging ahead of a candidate’s years of experience, location, open-source contributions, and so on:

As you can see by accessing the full report, tech professionals also think college degree and experience are vital parts of any resume, so it’s not like everyone’s moved beyond the idea of higher education. Nonetheless, “developers have also been continuing to highlight these markers on their resumes to catch a recruiter’s attention, even though they don’t necessarily agree that academic pedigree is the only marker of skill,” the report added.

For those tech professionals who opt to not pursue a degree, it’s key to build up your portfolio (including a GitHub repo of code, if you’re a developer) and experience in order to overcome any hiring manager hesitations about your abilities. That could mean participating in lots of open-source projects and launching self-made apps. Some tech pros might also choose to build up their freelancing experience before leveraging that into a full-time position.

For those pursuing computer science, engineering, mathematics, business analytics, and similar fields, a recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found a degree in those disciplines can translate into significant wages over the course of a career. But always keep in mind that a degree is just one element—you’ll need to display your skills during a technical interview, for instance.

And no matter what your background, continuing to boost your skills throughout your career is critical. Fortunately, HackerEarth’s data shows that 91.5 percent of organizations offer upskilling opportunities of some sort, although the nature of that upskilling tends to vary (for example, 18.8 percent said they hosted hackathons or learning sessions, while 22.9 percent said their projects “are challenging,” which might not always translate into significant upskilling).

From the developer side of the equation, 16.4 percent said they relied on the help of friends and colleagues to upskill, while 21 percent opted for company-provided learning paths. Even more called out YouTube and online learning platforms (29 percent and 32 percent, respectively), suggesting that many developers are independently motivated and self-taught when it comes to upskilling.