What’s behind tech employers ditching degree requirements?

What’s behind tech employers ditching degree requirements?

Categorized under: technology trends

Most people believe that technology is difficult to understand and even harder to learn how to build with. As a result of this dynamic, one would expect technology companies to require college diplomas to prove that prospective candidates are properly grounded in the knowledge they need to be successful in the workplace.

However, this is not the case at all. In fact, a small but growing number of employers are no longer requiring employees to have college degrees. While the bulk of employees for the foreseeable future will have earned a degree, this emerging trend is a tacit acknowledgement that a college diploma is not the only path to gaining the knowledge employers value.

So, what do employers care about? And, why is this trend likely to grow in popularity going forward?

Colleges are no longer the only place to get hands-on experience

Traditionally, colleges and universities have been fertile ground for gaining the knowledge and experience students needed for future success. Through a mix of academic courses and hands-on projects, students were able to balance theory and practice in a unique way that aided their future development.

However, as technology has continued to gain more prominence, employers have started to recognize that there are other ways for prospective employees to gain skills.  Coding bootcamps are one avenue that has recently surged in popularity. Over a period of several months, students could quickly learn specific technical skills that would prepare them in a way that they could have an immediate impact.

Given the immense need for employees, tech companies were more willing to take the risk on those who had pursued an alternative path. What companies found is that just like those who had college degrees, some of those who attended coding bootcamps worked out and some didn’t. 

By going through the necessary validation of the hypothesis through experimentation, tech companies were more willing to explore coding bootcamp graduates for future roles.

Proven ability to get the job done

First and foremost, any employer will be most concerned with whether or not a prospective candidate can get the job done. As technology continued to make progress, those who were interested in learning how to program no longer needed a workplace to develop skills.

Using a combination of cloud resources and instructional resources available online, curious learners could learn how to program in a wide variety of languages. Not only could they build their foundational knowledge, but they could also develop their own projects of interest.

Some of these projects became very successful companies that were acquired by tech companies. As part of these acquisitions, employers were able to gain additional data points about the capability of these new team members.

Not only had these people learned on their own but they had also created something so valuable that they were able to successfully monetize their invention. Any company wants people who have a proven ability to get the job done. And, there is no greater proof point than building a technology based solutions that is acquired.

For those who weren’t able to directly monetize their innovations, employers could still evaluate their code base and see their technical competence in a much more real way than simply grades on a transcript for those who attended college.

As a result, employers realized there was an untapped pool of prospective candidates that they should consider as well.


Although we might expect technology companies to be the most picky when it comes to requirements, instead we found that the need was so great for those who could design, develop and launch new solutions that these companies had to consider alternative options.

As these alternatives demonstrated the capability to produce the desired outcomes, employers were much more likely to create a path for these new entry points going forward.

Although, it is only a small number of employers who have currently eliminated degree requirements, we can expect this trend to increase in popularity given the focus on outcomes vs. credentials throughout our globally competitive economy.

About the Author: Omowale Casselle is the Co-Founder & CEO of Digital Adventures.