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Businesses Programming

Are You a Blue-Collar Or White-Collar Developer? 836

jammag writes "Some developers have gone to four-year universities, where they've also studied subjects like history and sociology, while other coders go to vocational schools and focus purely on writing great software. So why, asks a longtime developer, is there a stigma attached to not having a four-year degree, when 'blue collar' coders might be better trained? Why does the software industry keep emphasizing this difference — and generally giving better pay to four-year grads? Isn't being a developer about real skill level, not the piece of paper on the wall?"
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Are You a Blue-Collar Or White-Collar Developer?

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  • Important difference (Score:2, Informative)

    by MSesow ( 1256108 ) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @02:39PM (#30107332)
    I think the difference in the words "developer" and "coder" are important to any argument made - If all you need is someone who's job is only to write code, then yeah, a coder is a coder. However, if you need someone who is familiar with algorithms, theory, life cycle management, requirements engineering, etc., then you probably would want someone with a four year degree. Granted, even then there is no promise that the person knows more if they are a coder/degree holder, but generally the person looking at a stack of resumes will see that one extra accomplishment, and it very well might make their decision that much easier.
  • Re:Oh come on... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ironsides ( 739422 ) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @02:41PM (#30107364) Homepage Journal
    You ever see how much a master plumber, electrician, carpenter or welder get paid?
  • Re:No. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Omnifarious ( 11933 ) * <(gro.suoirafinmo) (ta) (hsals-cire)> on Sunday November 15, 2009 @02:59PM (#30107558) Homepage Journal

    Google was all set to offer me a job and it fouled on a bit of bureaucratic stupidity. But I passed their technical interview. I have no degree, and my lack of degree didn't figure into the bureaucratic stupidity.

    It took a lot of people inside the company recommending me for them to give me a serious interview. But it happened. So the idea that they only hire people with graduate level degrees is a myth.

  • by tjstork ( 137384 ) <todd,bandrowsky&gmail,com> on Sunday November 15, 2009 @03:02PM (#30107580) Homepage Journal

    I'm a blue collar developer but I had some CS in college pursuing a degree in English. Somehow I managed to BS my way into a graduate class on computing theory which I have to say was the most valuable education I've gotten in my life. Even if you do not get a degree, you will be richly rewarded if you make an effort to educate yourself.

    I would recommend:

    a) learn classic data structures. learn binary trees, learn hash tables. throw away the pre-built collections you get and try building them yourself. You'll gain a better appreciation of what your libraries do and a real sense of which might be appropriate.

    b) learn some formal information theory. Learn what Big O notation means and understand the difference between O(1) O(n) O(logN), and so on. If you want to be a real snob, try and learn some set theory, at least relational algebra, and then you'll really get a grip on how to use a relational database effectively, and understand why things are the way they are.

    c) I would highly recommend dabbling in assembly language. Writing snippets of code in assembly language is not that hard. You just have to be organized about what you do and keep track of things yourself.

    d) If you want to get into it a bit more, it would not hurt to read Turing's classic paper where he defines the Turing machine. The thing about Turing and indeed, a lot of the foundational papers by the greats in computer science, is that they are remarkably readable.

    e) Have a crack at an NP complete problem, just write a code to solve one, then ask yourself why, it is so ridiculous, and then read up on that.

    f) Try and do a little bit with fractals. Write a mandelbrot set generator... Everyone does it.

    All of those things are great things for any developer to do. Indeed, whether you finish college or not, your education in computer science should be a lifelong thing. Like any field, challenging yourself with problems solved and unsolved will not only make you a better programmer, but also, to some degree, a better human being. Your formal training is only the beginning of your obligation to educate yourself, lifelong.

  • by WinterSolstice ( 223271 ) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @03:15PM (#30107682)

    Wow, I hope you pay well

    In my experience, 99% of the tech industry is EXTREMELY mediocre. It's about paying the absolute bottom dollar, regardless of skill.

    Being employed in this market is about charging less than the next guy, and the next guy shares a Soviet-era apartment complex with two people in the Czech Republic.

    Sound bitter or cynical? That's because I've not only lost most of my educated and skilled colleagues to these people, I've lost the initial off-shore/outsource people (typically from Singapore or India) to these people. As soon as we get someone trained up and used to our systems, as soon as we start relying on their skills, they get replaced with someone cheaper and we do it again.

    Tech hasn't been about education or intelligence in over 10 years. It's a strictly blue collar job now once you get out of uni.

  • by nomadic ( 141991 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .dlrowcidamon.> on Sunday November 15, 2009 @03:30PM (#30107850) Homepage
    Is that solely a US thing?

    Not solely I'd guess, but it's definitely a US thing. Probably the reason a US degree is 4 years instead of 3. Personally I liked immersing myself in advanced classes in a wide variety of subjects and would have hated only having to stick with one subject.
  • by cyber-vandal ( 148830 ) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @03:40PM (#30107992) Homepage

    As would realising that nowhere is one word.

  • by TheNumberSix ( 580081 ) <NumberSix@simpli ... EL.com_minusfood> on Sunday November 15, 2009 @04:02PM (#30108240)

    since the "hurdle" set up by Human Cattle department requires a minimum of four years.

    In most large corporations, (and I speak from extensive experience here), these requirements are set by the line managers in the actual departments themselves. The Recruiting people generally look for whatever the line managers ask for.
    There are always exceptions, but I've found in the majority of the companies where I've worked, every time I've had to hire, they (Recruitment) ask me (line manager) what I want to see. The job descriptions are also written by line managers in most cases as well.

  • by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @04:51PM (#30108742)

    Sure if you use your own made up definition of white collar and blue collar.

    The term "white collar" was coined in reference to clerks, which don't need certification and approval and have no legal status.

    A blue collar worker usually does manual labor and earns a wage, two things none of the developers I know do/get.

  • Re:Oh come on... (Score:3, Informative)

    by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @05:03PM (#30108870)

    Electricians (median $22.32/hour - []) earn more than secretaries (median $14.41/hour []).

  • by wakingrufus ( 904726 ) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @10:40PM (#30111304) Homepage
    No, a W usually means you withdrew BEFORE the drop deadline. If you drop out after, you are stuck with an F.
  • by johncadengo ( 940343 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @01:23AM (#30112216) Homepage

    No, calculus is not used in complexity proofs.


    What are you talking about?

    Calculus [] is the foundation to complexity proofs. Without it, they wouldn't exist.

  • by linuxrocks123 ( 905424 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @03:11AM (#30112678) Homepage Journal

    That is not complexity theory.

    This is complexity theory: []


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