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I have been programming since I was 13. I am 34 now. I have always done it because I liked doing it, I dealt with machine learning and many other concepts. The amount of programs that I developed is huge.

Also, for a short period of time, I had informatics as part of my studies in engineering, but I didn't finish my studies.

I gathered practical knowledge in php, mysql, c#, pascal, basic, visual basic, python, c, c++, i even wrote a remote access tool long ago. But all of it is self-taught and I have no certificate whatsoever to prove any of it. All I could do would be to show my applications.

I don't have much money. I think that having acquired such a great amount of practical and useful knowledge and reading about software companies making millions, why can't I make money with my knowledge.

But then I see, that so many people had this very idea and most seem to have much higher qualification than I have. But then my girlfriend reminds me that she is impressed by what I created and I think she really meant it and was not just nice because she loves me.

I have no idea for what job I could apply as all of the better paid jobs require a finished study.

Or is being self-employed better in my situation?

How do I use my self-taught knowledge to make money while enjoying my work?

  • Two things: a) as all of the better paid jobs require a finished study. Taking a lower job first and then rising internally is possible. b) Contribute to (or create) some FLOSS projects that you can show potential employers. – deviantfan Jul 24 '16 at 1:19
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    If the jobs you want require a degree, why don't you finish yours? By the way, don't mention writing a 'troian' as qualification. No one will want to run your legitimate demo applications. – Brandin Jul 24 '16 at 1:35
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    Agree with Brandin; if I saw an application mentioning that the author wrote a Trojan, I wouldn't even finish reading the resume. Most developers have that level of knowledge, but they choose not to exercise it. – PeteCon Jul 24 '16 at 2:23
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    I'm not clear on what you've been doing over the intervening 21 years. – HorusKol Jul 24 '16 at 2:34
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    "I have no idea for what job I could apply as all of the better paid jobs require a finished study." That's not true. In Germany, all non-government jobs in IT read "finished education or equivalent working experience". Simply because for example the "finished study" the government wants me to have did not even exist when I finished my education. I worked in the very job they are looking for long before the required education came along. So having no formal education is not that much of a show stopper if you can show the experience. But then again, the question remains: what did you do? – nvoigt Jul 25 '16 at 11:31
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I'm going to ask the obvious question:

What have you been doing for the past 21 years?

You say that you've been studying programming for a long time. If it's been such a big part of your life then how come it's been secondary to your making a living?

And what you do for a living is going to matter rather a lot. If you have a background of flipping burgers then companies are going to be a little reluctant to believe that you're also a great programmer. If, however, your experience allows you to better understand their software needs, then your experience - even if not directly related to development - is a big plus.

That being said, there's three ways in which you can launch your software career:

#1. Return to School

It's never too late to go back to school. There's also online certifications you can pursue which can be very valuable.

I work with a guy who dropped out of school, and was working in a factory when it suddenly hit him that he didn't want to do that for the rest of his life at an age pretty similar to yours. He loved computers, gaming, etc. so he went back to school for development, and it all worked out for him.

#2. Build a Portfolio

What sort of programs have you written? What problems have you solved?

You list off many languages, but you have to prove that you can use them at an advanced enough level to be valuable.

Build a LinkedIn profile, and put yourself out there. A Github portfolio is also very valuable. Prove that you're talented, and companies will come looking for you.

Make sure to also update your resume (ties in with the LinkedIn) and start applying. Ask for the chance to prove yourself by completing a programming challenge, or test, etc.

#3. Start a Business

Advertise your services as a web-developer. Choose how you might go about solving people's problems. Full scale applications built from scratch? Optimized wordpress sites that you can deliver in less than a day? Heck, some people make their living purely out of developing wordpress templates, and make good money out of it too.

Conclusion

The bottom line here is that you need to choose a direction and act on it. Write a resume, create those profiles, etc.

Did you know that even a high-ranking Stack Overflow account can be a bragging point on a developer's resume? Use all of these things to your advantage, and good luck!

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Construct a solid portfolio of your work. Professional companies aren't impressed by script kiddies, but if you can show that you're answering business problems with your code, that you can work on projects from start to finish, that you can work well with clients and team members, that you're teachable, and that you know the basics of software development processes, then you'll get an interview.

At the interview, expect a technical interview in the language that you're applying for (or claiming expertise in).

Pass the interview, and you'll get the job. You might not be entering at the level you think you deserve, but if you're self-taught, you're probably not at the level you think you are.

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Showing your level of communication skills here probably won't help you in your job search, you might not even pass the quick google search the hr person does.

If you act like that in an interview, you really have to be an awesome developer to get the job and even then most people won't hire you for the attitude.

.. all assuming you are really you and not somebody else building up a bad reputation for the real Vitalis ;)

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    How does this make you feel: Showing your level of communication skills here probably won't help you in your job search, you might not even pass the quick google search the hr person does. If you act like that in an interview, you really have to be an awesome developer to get the job and even then most people won't hire you for the attitude. – Vitalis Hommel Jul 24 '16 at 22:41
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    depends on if you are looking here for help or trouble .. so far it seems like the second. show your portfolio/skills, be somebody people want to work with, in germany you probably need to explain why you left school, that all affects the decission. you also might wanna look for jobs abroad, silicon valley maybe. – user54331 Jul 24 '16 at 22:57

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