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Do I need to do masters in Computer Science to move ahead in career?

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Anonymous User at Taro Communitya year ago

I am doing backend engineering for last 5 years in small sized startups. I am doing relatively decent with good work/learning and good salary.

I am confused about future - since I have done bachelor’s only and that too from very very average tier 3 college in India so, do i need to go for masters from a reputed college to make my resume better for future. Is it even required to do masters or education from reputed college to grow in career or I am over thinking? Right now I don’t face any problem when I change companies but what about 10/15 years down the line. I am confused sometimes that do only skill matters or i need pedigree also to grow.

  1. I have decent skills but I don’t have a good college name in my resume what to do from here to grow: go for masters or focus on job and skills?
  2. If masters then: my another concern is do college degree in master really matters now as i will stop earning so, is it worth it or its just a FOMO?
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Discussion

(4 comments)
  • 20
    Profile picture
    a year ago

    Many job descriptions list required education. Those that do often say "or equivalent experience." Those that require a masters may say something like "masters degree or 10+ years experience; PhD or 15+ years experience". A minimal amount, at least for the job descriptions I've read, say that a particular degree is required.

    Google required degrees in the past. Now a Google Career Certificate is sufficient. Many other FAANG companies no longer require a degree of any kind.

    For anecdotal evidence. I've applied, interviewed, and been hired for job descriptions requiring a college degree. I dropped out of college. I've never once been asked where I went to school or what degree I have.

    Experience, for me, has always outweighed the education requirements. I have never felt like I was held back because of a lack of a degree.

    Whether you have a degree or not, you will need to understand Computer Science fundamentals well. Depending on your role, algorithms might not be used in your day-to-day job, but they are usually a crucial part of the interview process.

    That said, some jobs will absolutely require a degree. Some jobs are much more at a theoretical or deeply low level and require a much deeper understanding of math and algorithms. I've heard anecdotal evidence of people being turned down late in the interview process for not having a degree.

    I can't say what 10-15 years down the line will be like. What I can say is I've had a longer career than that and not having a degree hasn't been a problem for me. You have a bachelor's degree so already have an advantage.

    Take a data-driven approach. Look at the job descriptions you see yourself having in 5, 10, or 15 years. Do they require particular degrees? Does any job you're currently looking at require a masters degree? Does the job you want tend to only hire from certain universities? If the job you want requires one, then of course get the degree.

    But I would not worry about it if no job you want requires it. It will take time and money to get one. An equivalent amount of the right experience is more valuable. If you're stalling in your career, maybe there are other skill sets you should work on. Skill sets that aren't taught in CS programs.

    What has helped me succeed in a long software engineering career in very high-level positions without a degree:

    • Communication skills -- Being able to communicate complex details to many different stakeholders with varying technical knowledge.
    • CS fundamentals -- Data structures and algorithms help in the interview process for sure but also help in day-to-day if you need to dig deep into a problem. This has been the thing I struggled with the most because I did not get this education in school. So I had to learn it outside of school to make progress.
    • Breadth of experience in many things -- Working on many different types of projects helps you understand much more than anything you can learn in school.
    • Depth of experience in a few things -- Shallow but broad knowledge is limiting. Knowing a handful of things very well makes it much easier to jump to a different set of things.
  • 12
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    Founder
    a year ago

    You don't need to Master's degree. I did my master's degree, and the idea was to do PhD after it. I didn't do PhD, and my master's studies have not benefitted me as much in my professional career. The best outcome of my master's degree was to get out of my home country and the great friendships I made.

    If you need to get out of India, then a master's degree from Europe might be a path. If you want to do research and a PhD then master's is an excellent path. Some jobs, for example Data Scientist at Amazon, will most probably require a PhD.

    If your only goal is to get better at your software engineering job, then a master's degree will be waste of time and money.

  • 24
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    Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    a year ago

    A masters degree is not necessary for an amazing career in tech. It is increasingly less important the longer you've been working. IMO here are some good reasons to do a masters:

    1. Brand value -- this becomes less important since you have 5 YoE.
    2. Immigration -- not sure where you're located, but sounds like this isn't a problem
    3. Career pivot -- if you want to make a hard pivot into something relatively distinct (e.g. web dev to distributed systems), a masters might be a nice clean break

    The cost (and opportunity cost) of a masters degree is large. You mentioned you've only worked at startups till now. Unless you feel like there's no way you can break into other company types (e.g. FAANG or hot growth-stage companies), a masters is usually not worth it.

  • 2
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    2 months ago

    Here's some anecdotal evidence:

    • Some of my coworkers joined PayPal after doing a Master's degree. For their Master's they got rewarded with a start at SW2 instead of SW1. So with 2 years of experience, they were making $120k.
    • I joined PayPal as SW1 straight out of school with a Bachelor's and quickly realized that I needed to go somewhere else to grow as fast I wanted. I grinded hard with interviews and got a job that paid $140k with 1 year of experience.

    There are ultra-tactical reasons to do a Master's (immigration is the big one), but if you don't have those strict requirements and are just soul-searching, I heavily recommend against a Master's. The time opportunity cost is simply too high. You could be using that time to build side projects, interview prep, and getting work experience (which builds up your professional network) instead.