Main image of article No STEM Degree Necessary to Land Great Jobs at Tech Giants
Education is key for any tech role, but some of the largest tech companies are starting to understand that a good tech education doesn’t always mean you have a degree from Stanford. Glassdoor recently took a look at which companies were hiring, as well as their list of requirements for applicants. Some roles at some companies were understandably light on an education requirement (we really like Costco cupcakes, but we’re also not surprised a job making them doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree). Other requirements (or lack thereof) might surprise you. At Google, Apple, or IBM, you can get a job in tech without a four-year degree. For example, Google is currently hiring for ‘Software Engineer,’ and IBM is looking for a ‘Financial Blockchain Engineer.’ Apple is hiring for several engineering roles, including ‘Engineering Project Manager.’ In a 2014 interview with The New York Times, former Google Senior Vice President of People Operations (a very Google-y title for ‘Head of HR’) Laszlo Bock said: “GPAs are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless. ... We found that they don’t predict anything.” He added that the “proportion of people without any college education at Google has increased over time.” Bock also underscores that intelligence sometimes manifests as raw aptitude:
"If it’s a technical role, we assess your coding ability, and half the roles in the company are technical roles. For every job, though, the number one thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not I.Q.. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information. We assess that using structured behavioral interviews that we validate to make sure they’re predictive."
Stack Overflow’s most recent developer survey shows that about 70 percent of tech pros have a degree, while 20 percent don’t have any degree: “It is not that rare to find accomplished professional developers who have not completed a degree." The explosion of online learning resources, and popularity of bootcamps, is contributing to a tech industry filled with better developers who may have never even applied to college. But those with degrees may be earning more: As SmartAsset points out, those with bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields tend to earn more than other degrees; a four-year degree can earn you 46 percent more, on average. Jobs in tech can be hard to come by without a degree, too. The success rate of finding a job for those who went to a bootcamp or MOOC (massive open online course) rather than university is about 50/50. It’s possible to find a job in tech without a degree, but be prepared to prove yourself. Google’s former people-boss might look kindly upon non-traditional education, but many companies are still wary. A four-year (or better) STEM degree still provides the best return on investment, but it’s no longer the only path forward. Developers and engineers are increasingly being measured by their skill-set, not alma mater, and that's good news for everyone.