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Elon Musk Says You Don’t Need A College Degree. Is He Right?

Elon Musk Says You Don’t Need A College Degree. Is He Right?

March 28, 2018 in Centriq News / by Hannah Gerstner

When asked what college degrees he looks for on a resume, Elon Musk— the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX— made it clear that skills and abilities come first. While he acknowledges that graduating from a prominent university can indicate that a candidate might be “capable of great things,” he says, “what I’m really looking for is evidence of exceptional ability. There’s no need even to have a college degree.”

Is Musk right? Is a college degree necessary for a successful career in tech?

According to big-league tech players, the answer is no. Musk’s idea of hiring “exceptional ability” over a college degree isn’t unique; companies all over the tech-space have been following suit. Companies like IBM, GitHub and Intel have also spoken out about hiring employees with non-traditional education and backgrounds.

What started this trend?

While the conventional degree-path makes sense for other industries like nursing or law, the information technology field is based entirely on a person’s ability to do the job. The technology workforce is a leading example of an industry where employers are placing a larger emphasis on job skills than degrees. In a recent Robert Half survey, 71% of CIO’s (Chief Information Officers) said they place more weight on skills and experience than whether or not a candidate attended a college/university.

Why this change? As technology plays an increasing role in every industry, Companies are struggling to find IT talent that meets their needs. In an interview with USA today, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty explains that industries are transforming and that, “jobs are being created that demand new skills– which in turn requires new approaches to education, training and recruiting.” The traditional four-year degree institutions are not adapting or meeting the demand for these skill sets.

Rometty continues to state that this failure is creating a shortage of tech workers. And she’s not wrong: in the U.S. alone, there are more than 500,000 open jobs in tech- related sectors, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Additionally, a recent study by Code.org reports that as many as 1 million programming jobs will be unfilled by 2020.

Though there isn’t a need for a degree from a four-year university, it’s still crucial for people with an interest in tech to obtain the skills they need to do the job.

Non-Degree Training Options

Non-degree training options, like boot camps, are becoming increasingly popular for those wanting to start a career in IT. There are countless training programs available online— and many of them are free. In St. Louis, a new LaunchCode program is connecting candidates with structured training, and pairs them with local companies for apprenticeship opportunities. Across the country, similar boot camp programs are appearing that offer variations of technical training. Sam Ladah, IBM’s head of talent organization, says that “We’ve been very successful in hiring from [coding] bootcamps” and other non-degree training options.

Across the country, we are seeing the rise of coding boot camps imitating the format Centriq pioneered over ten years ago, filling a need for programmers that colleges can’t. The immersive Centriq Training format is a hands-on, technology-specific training that takes four months, not four years.  Even more so, Centriq offers a choice between Full-Stack Web Development (coding) and IT Systems and Security, giving students training in the area of IT they would succeed most in.  That’s why Centriq has placed graduates in IT departments of over 1000 Midwest companies.

Are you ready to find out which credentials you need for the IT job you want to pursue? Let us become a part of your success story. Take a quick moment to reach out to us today. We are ready to help you move to the next level in your IT career as efficiently as possible!