Is post-secondary education in the technology sector still worth it? [Quora]

I’ve started to dive into Quora, answering questions where I believe I might be able to bring experience and knowledge to bear. This particular question went on to expand as such:

“Technology is changing daily, it seems like post-secondary institutions are always a few steps behind with their material.”

My short answer is “yes, it’s still worth it.”

The longer answer is that how much it’s worth really depends on what opportunities you’re pursuing in the field of technology.

For example, if you’re looking to work in IT in any kind of non-tech-focused (widget-makers as opposed to software developers), then people who handle HR are mostly likely looking for a degree just to be able to talk to them.

Quite frankly, in a lot of non-tech organizations, they just don’t know the talent they’re interviewing. To keep your employment avenues open for the opportunities these types of organizations present, you need the paper.

For yourself, the value of a post-secondary education can come from many forms. If you want to pursue telecommunications, as an example, a solid tech school in your area may give you the access to the equipment that you need to build experience prior to, or alongside your job in that field. A degree may be helpful, but only if it gives you the knowledge necessary for you to take on the challenges you want to take on.

If you’re going into software development, especially as a startup, you likely will find yourself more than up to the challenge working with developers who can coach and mentor your skills and make them better. This could happen in a post-secondary institution, but there are a wealth of other options — and I’ve found that in the bootstrapped world, your degree demonstrates that you can stick with something for a while — it doesn’t represent what you actually know. Your portfolio of work and your ability to summon solutions at whim are far more important than the degree.

That said…. anything you can get your hands on that will improve your critical thinking, your ability to manage projects, to communicate effectively with people (technical and non-technical) and (despite your possible reservations) design-thinking — this will help you become a far more valuable employee in the technology sector, broadly. You don’t need a degree for these skills — but if you can find an institution to partner with that will help you develop those skills, they’ll be very attractive to me as a guy who is likely looking to hire people.