The rise of the Self-taught Programmer

The rise of the Self-taught Programmer

The desire to become a self-taught programmer or developer is at an all-time high right now and the pandemic is partially to blame for the rapid growth of this profession. During the pandemic, a lot of physical jobs were lost, but the Tech industry experienced an immense amount of growth in revenue and job opportunities, and these opportunities started to attract unemployed people or just ordinary people looking to get a slice from the industry. 

The Tech industry comes with really good if not one of the best working conditions and benefits ever. The most famous one being the benefit of working from home or what is also known as the “Home office”. 

With all these shiny benefits, people started looking for easier ways to join the tech industry, basically, without going through the hassle of paying for universities and/or colleges and having to study for years and years and this resulted in the explosion in the number of self-taught programmers.

What does it mean to be a Self-Taught programmer?

When you go to a University or college, you have a fixed curriculum or a ‘roadmap’ that shows you exactly what to study, in which order, and how to go about doing it. However, when you take the self-taught path, things are extremely different, because you are choosing the roadmap yourself, maybe with the help of some friends or family members, or maybe even a quick search on Reddit or youtube, but the whole idea is that you are in charge of putting together your plan of action, which may not always be the best of plans, however when that plan succeeds you can gladly call yourself a “Self-taught” programmer. 

The challenges

Although it seems easy to many, being self-taught is arduous because you are constantly in battle with your doubts, with exhausting unpredictability and uncertainty.  It takes time, patience, continuous learning, doing extensive research, building projects, and a lot of failing to become a self-taught programmer, but during this whole process, you are creating or building what is referred to as a “coding muscle”.

I remember back in early 2019 when I decided to embark on the programming journey, full of excitement and cheer, ready to change the world with code, but little did I know of what was in store for me. The process was very daunting, I was doubting myself almost every day during those early stages, I would find myself asking questions like who am I to do this? I am over 30 already and without any college or university degree, so where exactly do I fit in this vast world of programming, which programming language should I learn, do I want to learn back-end or front-end? and the list went on. I am pretty sure if you are a self-taught programmer, then some of those questions might be familiar because those are just some of the stages most self-taught programmers go through.

Why you should hire self-taught programmer

Well, self-taught programmers may not have the necessary diplomas or degrees in the programming field, but I can assure you that they can outwork, outthink and outmaneuver many varsity or college graduates.

  • They have vigor, passion, and a huge inner drive to achieve 

For starters, if you are teaching yourself to code, you should either really love it or you must really want it with your whole being because it takes time, a huge amount of patience, dedication, a lot of guts, and just an immense work ethic. Most self-taught programmers possess all of these traits and much more.

  • They have support and know where to get information.

Although it might seem like a lonely journey for many, self-taught programmers actually often form part of a community, where they share their problem-solving skills and ideas with each other, and this can be an advantage for the employer because he is not only hiring one programmer but that programmer comes with a whole community of developers who possess various forms expertise in different fields or technologies, that the programmer can always tap into.

  • Always ready to go

All new employees need to go through the onboarding and training phases respectively because it is a vital experience for the employee, but it also gets expensive the more it drags on. Being self-taught mostly but not often means that you have a decent amount of real-world experience, which you picked up along your learning journey, be it in collaborative projects or freelancing gigs. So with that experience, the developer will most likely be ready to start coding in less time and with minimal training – Often saving the company time and money.

  • When all fails, they always have plan C, D, E, and more if need be

Self-taught developers are skilled problem solvers, every great developer has an extensive history of solving problems. Universities give programmers a solid base in theory, but theory goes out of the window when you encounter real-life coding problems or challenges.

A fundamental part of self-teaching is knowing how to untangle yourself when you are stuck in a situation, identifying problems, solving them, and learning from the process.

Read too: Industry 4.0: Web 3.0 and digital transformation


I hope this text doesn’t sound one-sided or maybe in favor of the self-taught programmer as opposed to the traditional varsity or college-educated programmer, but take it with a grain of salt. Studies have shown that happy employees are up to 13% more productive (according to the University of Oxford)  and self-taught developers are passionate about what they do, so there is no doubt that this is an advantage for the company. With all that said, I think we can all agree that the self-taught programmer is here to stay!  🎓

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