You don't need a CS degree and you don't need certs once you've established yourself.

I've been in SRE or SRE-adjacent roles at Amazon, Microsoft, Dropbox, and now a quant hedge fund (the first three in the US, the last in London). My only degree is in English lit.

Your hardest step is getting into your first job with good name recognition in the tech industry. For this, your best bet isn't certs, it's networking -- find someone who can refer you, which will get you past the automated resume screening and get your resume in front of a hiring manager, at which point your degree and certs don't matter.

Dude I got into a FAANG company with no CS degree (or any other degree). Unless you're going into research, where is PhD is almost required, they'll hire you based on your skills.
I remember a time when online certificates was an anti signal. I think it still is in many startups. (Most people just hire on skill.)
You can do a master in CS even without a CS bachelor online at the University of Colorado Boulder via Coursera. You just need to take 2 classes and get at least B in each.


But as they say, this will only put you on the radar, but then it's all about LeetCode-Hard and -Medium and system design.

I work at FAANG and have no degree. Checking for degrees used to be a thing but I don't think anyone does that anymore.

I had the same feeling as you (regretting not doing traditional CS). I ended up studying it on my own and really recommend it as I find that it made me into a much better engineer.

There a lot of talk about just doing leetcode and getting into a FAANG. I have done many interviews (as interviewer) at FAANGs and leetcode is good for an intern or straight out of college gig. For more senior roles, yes, we expect you to demonstrate that you can program by writing code, but the yes/no decision will be based on your experience and your ability to describe it in detail and have insights about it.

On the other side of the leetcode discussion, I’ve worked at a company that managed to hire someone with zero ability to program based on their ability to bullshit. I personally loathe doing leetcode myself, but I won’t hire someone who can’t take a stab at it, and I don’t want to work somewhere where my colleagues might be bullshit artists.

Now this doesn’t apply so much at startups, because founders generally don’t tolerate hiring decisions that would kill their company. So for example our first engineer at one place had a six hour interview where they broke down this game engine that they themselves had written. So, “it depends”.

I worked at a FAANG company. My co-worker hadn't graduated High School.

I recommend applying and grinding leetcode if you aim for a SWE role. Two years SWE experience is enough for them to give you an interview with a cold application through their job board in my experience.

I'm an alumni of https://bradfieldcs.com/, and it enabled plenty of us to prepare to work at FAANGs. The courses aren't really for that though, but if you were to take one (I strongly recommend CSI), you will find yourself surrounded by people who crave knowledge and betterment of their craft and are very driven about their careers.

The CSI course itself isn't a FAANG prep nor will you take interviewing or leetcode classes.

Here's a free version (and larger in volume of knowledge) of what CSI offers to enable you to understand and interact with: teachyourselfcs.com/

Having been an engineer interviewing other engineers applying to work for Apple (for 26 years) I can tell you that the best resume was one where the engineer shipped code. Degree became a non-issue if that box was checked.
I had a buddy with multiple felonies for selling drugs when he was younger get a job at Facebook as a SWE. He was promoted to Senior while he was there. He had no college degree, and his completion of high school was the GED.

If you can prove you can do the job, you will get the job.

Leetcode will help you get into FAANG not certs.
You have a degree, that’s all that really matters. On average people change careers three times in their lives. your doing great, trust in yourself. Anything you feel you missed can be learned online a no cost.


I’m a UK based software developer without a CS degree. I wrote about my experience interviewing at various software companies (including Google) in 2021 - https://blog.nindalf.com/posts/tech-interview/. I also talk about how I prepared for the interview, so that may be useful.

If you want to talk to someone about this don’t hesitate to reach out over email!

I have a BSc and an MSc and I don't ever want to work for FAANG. I work as a contractor and work only few months a year if it allows it. Rest of the time I work on my own side projects - the dream for me is for them to get successful. UK based but relocated to Asia. FAANG might seem like the successful endpoint but theres many exciting companies/startups out there that might make you feel more accomplished than working in a massive ORG.
For getting into faangs - get a referral, leetcode like crazy (and system designs if you are senior).

For staying in FAANGs learn to embrace and exhibit "leadership principles". It is all about impact and likeability during perf. FAANGs arent (especially) immune to politics and all things that come with humans at the helm.

I'm UK based, went to an arts university, I work as a SWE at a company in the US. I think most tech companies, especially startups, would be more impressed by an unfinished but interesting side project than any certs or qualifications.
I am UK based. I also did CS50x and found it was worth doing and fun even if you don’t have a particular goal.

It won’t get you very far though it’s an intro, personally I am looking at CS61a/b/c next.



More concretely from reading your post the best thing you can do is move companies to a more engineering focused company where you can learn more, before you are ready to shoot for the likes of FANG

I work at AWS in the UK and also do interviews in a Software Engineering role. I have no CS degree and at least where I am we do not look at degrees. We are hiring btw.
Just curious. Why are you so motivated by getting into a FAANG company?
For certification, I don't think it's important for FAANG - a referral or other way of getting a recruiter to get you to an interview, and passing the interview, is all that really matters.

The only part of a degree course that really matters in an interview context is algorithm analysis. You need to understand how the cost, in space and time, of code you write scales with the size of inputs.

Degrees and certificates from reputable organizations may be important for getting a H-1B visa though, should you want to emigrate in the future.

As someone who decided to get BSc degree in Math & Stats after 5 years in industry this thread makes me questioning my decision.

Everyone says you don't need degree, but in my experience if you want to do advanced stuff (machine learning, cryptography, algorithms) you probably need one, unless you are extremely talented and can pick up everything on your own.

You probably don't need degree if you want to work as SWE in mid-tier companies, once you have experience there are no problems with finding jobs.

Do you have specific industry areas you want to get into? I was hiring for 5 year for some EU companies (startups to 1k) as an engineer, I _never ever_ looked at the applicant's degree - if you have any university degree, it's a plus ("you are willing to learn") but not much more. CV/past (own) projects will get you all the way.

If you are targeting fintech, ML or "rockstar" corps that might be different.

If you have 2 years of SWE experience, your lack of degree is not likely to be a significant barrier, assuming you can pass the interview. If you had none it might have been since it can be difficult to get past the resume screen without one. In my experience online certifications are basically useless. Feel free to take classes you like to learn things you want to learn, but listing them will probably not help.
I don’t have a CS degree either and I’m at a FAANG. If you’ve got a resume with “senior developer” on it, no good employer will care.
The FAANG interviews I've done have all been algorithm and OS internal heavy. I'd say buy yourself a copy of the algorithms textbook and work through that.

I didn't get an offer, though, so take my advice with a grain of salt.

Not FAANG, but I've hired and worked a number of people over the years without CS or related degrees. I have no problem with it. I don't think that the degree will help you get the job, as long as you can get an interview.
If you are shooting for some sort of cloud technical support / technical sale kind of role, I do think cloud certainly in the relevant cloud provider will help, but they are not necessary.

I think the carts mostly exists to satisfy corporate clients

Yes, I worked in FANG and one of my pals didn’t have a degree yet was highly regarded in the company. What really matters is what you know and whether you can execute…
I can't say I know much about it, but it seems to me the good thing about the FAANG companies is that anyone can give it a go with the Leetcode gauntlet.
Study leetcode and system design. That's enough.
No, you don't need an online degree. I had a colleague at Google who was hired straight after highschool.
I have a PhD in computer science and I work in FAANG. My boss and his boss don't have CS degrees.
If you want to have interesting cs challenges, go for smaller fish. Don't FAANG.
Like others are saying, Leetcode is enough to get into a FAANG.

The only place where having a CS degree would be important is if you want to move to a different country and the company would have to sponsor your visa.

That said, FAANG seems to be pretty tight with headcount these days, hopefully it’s better in a year or two.

Genuine question: why are you focused on just those five companies?
Not unless you're trying to get a job in Australia :)
You're not a Society of Women Engineers, sorry
FAANG != "or other tech companies"

Choose one side of the coin and prepare accordingly.

To simplify:

- FAANG (and FAANG wannabes): leet code, algo, CS stuff

- other tech companies: getting things done, Open Source contributions

Why do you want to work for FAANG?
You are a programmer, not a SWE. To be a SWE, you need an engineer diploma obtained after 5 years of studying.
I wrote this FAANG interview guide a while ago after doing the LC grind and interviewing a bunch of places. I email it to people when they ask me about getting into FAANG. Note that Blind, while useful, is very toxic:

0. Total Compensation (TC) Salary comparison site: https://www.levels.fyi/ Anonymous posting with verified employees: https://www.teamblind.com/

These are the best tools for finding out what compensation actually is at these places. I know enough people in these companies to know these numbers are accurate. Keep in mind these numbers often include stock appreciation. You can filter to new offers to get numbers that exclude stock appreciation.

1. Leetcode (LC)

FAANG+ interviews always involve solving programming problems in real time. The best place to practice is Leetcode.

Buy a yearlong Leetcode premium subscription and do all the modules listed here, in no particular order, but skip decision trees and machine learning: https://leetcode.com/explore/learn/

When you are done with that, do all the problems on this list: https://www.teamblind.com/post/New-Year-Gift---Curated-List-...

A lot of these problems are on the modules linked previously, so you will only have 30-40 new problems here

Next, do random problems until you "see through the matrix." Focus on medium level problems. Try to do something like 35% easy, 50% medium, 15% hard. If you can't find the optimal solution to a problem, "upsolve" by reading a bit of the solution and trying again. If you still can't get it, copy the code of the solution and study it. Then erase it and try to solve it from memory. Periodically go back over solved problems and re-solve them while taking notes. Your goal should be to solve two random LC mediums in ~35 minutes. Solve problems out loud to simulate communicating your thoughts to an interviewer.

Consider using Python as your interview language if you are comfortable enough with it. It's faster than Java for writing. Some places will have you run the code, others it will be a glorified whiteboard, so don't use the run button as a crutch. Around two weeks before your interview, start doing company tagged problems like: https://leetcode.com/company/doordash/

Start doing this part first and grind it hard. It might take 3 months, it might take a year. It takes as long as it takes until you think you can crush it.

2. System Design

The system design interview tests your ability to piece together components to build an entire product or feature. A typical question is something like "design a URL shortener that serves 1B requests per day." You will need to choose database/pubsub/caching technologies appropriate to the problem, describe DB schemas, caching strategies, partitioning/replication schemes, design APIs, etc.

For senior level roles, this will be the most important part of your interview as far as leveling. If you are shaky, they will downlevel. Buy DDIA: https://www.amazon.com/Designing-Data-Intensive-Applications...

Read it more than once.

These courses on educative.io are useful: https://www.educative.io/courses/grokking-the-system-design-... These videos are also really good: https://www.codekarle.com/

Also FAANG level engineering blogs. Uber/Doordash/Netflix/Facebook. Tech talks on Cassandra/Kafka and stuff like that.

Videos are the best last minute prep before interviews for design.

3. Applying

Get referrals wherever you can. Most places will ignore you unless you have them. I applied to probably 25+ companies and got rejects or ignored for all but Uber, AirBnB and LinkedIn. Places I had referrals to I scored onsites for 100% of the time, including places that rejected me before a referral. You can get them referrals off of Blind, but you probably also have people in your network in FANG and top tier companies. People will be motivated to refer since referral bonuses are usually large.

4. Interviewing

The process is recruiter call -> "phone screen" (do an LC problem on Hackerrank on a zoom call) -> "onsite" which is 5 hours of zoom...usually 2 coding, 1 behavioral (maybe a small coding question as well), 1 design.

Do mock interviews with friends/colleagues for LC problems. I would totally be willing to do mocks with you when you are ready. I had 3 different people give me a total of 6 mock interviews. You can also pay for this with different companies like interviewing.io or randoms off Blind. I can give you the contact info of the guy from Uber who did the system design mock with me as well. He is super super good. It's much harder to find mock interviewers for system design.

Also for interviews you can interview over 2-3 days after 3pm PST to avoid taking time off work. Recruiters will let you push back interviews for any reason multiple times, especially if it's for more interview prep, so if you aren't where you want to be before one, it's totally fine to ask for more time.

5. Negotiating

You should try to get all your interviews lined up very close together to get competing offers, which can increase your offer by a lot.

Troll much
If you want a good set of fangs, I recommend looking for a surgeon with experience helping people transform into a vampire.
In a way it's insanely easy to get a high-end tech job in the US. You don't need to spend 4 years in college. If you're willing to lock yourself in your bedroom and do leetcode for 3-6 months, one of them will hire you.