Before the big boom of software development and its drastic demand in the Silicon Valley, the initial programmers were a majority of self-taught computer geeks who would quickly learn the value of their skills. The evolution of software development now includes a variety of categories that people specialize in, including mobile networking, APIs, and advanced security safeguards. Formal training is still argued to be the most holistic experience in computer system instruction, however self-taught developers have found their niche once before and continue to advance their careers using a hybrid of the two.

Beyond Programming: The Universe of Developer Skills

Software developers rely on a broad arsenal of skills. The role extends well beyond simply programming the source code — developers also design the user interface and the program architecture. They manage the development process from start to finish, from the initial analysis of user requirements to the design, testing, and implementation. Developer products span the worlds of Web development, gaming, and enterprise software, and require deep knowledge of hardware systems and software integration.

Building Software Expertise with Developer Training

Self-taught programmers may have the basic coding skills to match their formally-trained peers, but often lack the broad understanding of computer software and hardware to develop a sleek and reliable program. Self-taught developers may lack crucial underlying concepts of software development — the theory and broad understanding of computer systems. Web developer training builds a foundation for programming skills with courses in:

  • Fundamentals of computer science
  • Machine architecture
  • Data structures
  • Operating systems and compilers
  • Functional programming
  • Machine learning
  • Object composition

Without comprehensive training in these core areas, programmers can still write code that works — but not necessarily code that uses resources most efficiently. Self-taught developers may lack skill in allocating memory, structuring data, building a hierarchy of objects, or understanding the tradeoffs among different programming techniques.

More to the point, formally-trained developers gain a holistic sense of how all the components function together. “I’ve found that self-taught programmers lack a good mental model of what’s going on in the machine,” one developer wrote on Another developer elaborates,

“What I got out of coursework was a better understanding of the abstraction stack down to the hardware.” This comprehensive understanding is the basis for efficient and well-designed software.

The Credentials for Developer Job Advancement

Formal developer training builds careers as it builds expertise. Degrees and certifications both contribute to developer job advancement.

  • Software development degrees open doors to a world of jobs in software engineering and Web development. With more and more computer programming jobs disappearing overseas, the advancement into development roles comes just in time. Software engineering jobs are thriving; the occupation ranks fourth in the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s list of fastest growing engineers, with 32 percent job growth predicted from 2008 to 2018. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for a career in this high-demand field.
  • Developer training certifications offer a convenient way for developers to update their expertise in emerging technologies and programming languages. Leading developer certifications include Certified Internet Web Professional (CIW) Web Developer, Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD certification), and Sun Certified Java Developer (SCJD).

Self-taught developers may quickly encounter limitations in job mobility, responsibility, and advancement. Without a degree, it’s virtually impossible for self-taught computer programmers to move into software engineering positions or other developer careers. Web developers can get their foot in the door with an associate’s degree or certifications, but a bachelor’s degree is the preferred qualification.

Developer training molds programmers into well-rounded software developers. A broad grasp of computer science principles and technologies serves as a foundation for practical skills. Meanwhile, developers can trade on their degree and certifications to advance into high-impact design roles. is a fundamental resource in tech and IT certifications, degrees, and computer training courses. Providing training courses for a broad IT audience, you can either learn from scratch the IT career path or even expand your IT knowledge to advance your tech career.