I am an autodidact software developer. I have been trying to study at university, but looks like formal studies and me are not compatible. Basically I tend to fail any test or exam, despite my strong knowledge of a subject. I have been trying studies for several times - same result. So I prefer autodidactism, I do study a lot, but I have no diploma and no degree.

Lately it started to bother me a lot. During my last 3 contracts I had to work within external teams and during any discussion/meeting my opinion was completely ignored due my lack of degree. Usually I give very strong opinions, based on different knowledge and wide experience. And in 99% cases my opinions are correct. One company even went bankrupt after devs decided to go their way, completely ignoring my warnings about all the risks and proposed way around.

I wonder if their is any way to make people respect my knowledge, not my (nonexistent) degrees? And how should I behave. Ignorance of colleagues does not improve one's self esteem.

  • 16
    Lose the arrogance. "And in 99% cases my opinions are correct." Yeah, right. Nov 18, 2016 at 21:48
  • 2
    The open university might be a better bet - open.ac.uk
    – Ed Heal
    Nov 18, 2016 at 22:15
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    You have been in development for 18 years and you are judged by not having a degree? You knowledge is either not 99% correct or not presented in an effective manner or both.
    – paparazzo
    Nov 18, 2016 at 22:25
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    I know plenty of developers who've been doing it for 18 years or more and have no idea what they're doing...
    – HorusKol
    Nov 19, 2016 at 14:56
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    @HorusKol One company even went bankrupt after devs decided to go their way, completely ignoring my warnings about all the risks and proposed way around. seems like it was those developers that had no idea of what they were doing. And i know people that just come from school and have after 5 years of study are still in "It works on my computer and i don't care about the rest" spirit while we are teached way more than this now.
    – Walfrat
    Nov 19, 2016 at 15:35

2 Answers 2


The problem isn't your lack of qualifications, it's your lack of interpersonal skills...

Usually I give very strong opinions, based on different knowledge and wide experience.

Strong opinions will make people go instantly onto the defensive. And don't forget, these people will also have had different experiences to you.

The first part of the solution is to recognise that different isn't always bad.

The second part is to get better at demonstrating that what you think is better actually is. There's been a few times when trying to prove my way is better that I've actually realised someone else's is actually better, instead. But when you can demonstrate your way is better, you will get most people on side.


Software development is a field in which you formal education doesn't matter as much as in, say, science.

However, it does indicate to potential employers that you committed to a program, and were able to stick with it for a few years, and also guarantees that your knowledge rises to a given standard (less than some employers realize, but still seen as such).

The only way to combat this is to have a very strong resume and portfolio. However, from the sound of things, getting the job is not a problem for you. It's the fact that your fellow employees are not respecting your opinions. This, to me, sounds more like an interpersonal relationship problem, than a knowledge one (unless you really are inflating your own knowledge and abilities, but I can't judge that).

First of all, I don't see why you even told the others that you don't have any formal studies on the matter. Don't bring it up. If asked point blank you can evade the question, lie, or just say you don't wish to share that information - as long as the boss knows and is happy with you on the team, they don't need to know.

Second of all, in order to gain credibility you have to talk the talk, and walk the walk. If you don't know and use key programming lingo and terminology when discussing your proposed ideas, then veteran developers might come to think you really do have no idea what you're talking about.

Last by not least, stay humble. I've never had a fellow developer tell me that their opinion should count for more because they've got a higher degree than mine. However, I've also never met anyone who was right 99% of the time.

I know that I've been at points in my career where I didn't even know what I don't know (if that makes any sense). Now I'm a little more aware of just how ignorant I really am, and that there's a lot of knowledge I must still pick up before I can call myself a truly skilled developer.

Being self taught, you might be ignorant of some techniques which you don't even realize exist, let alone that you could be using them. Always keep an open mind, and don't challenge people from the viewpoint that your ideas are inherently superior. Simply debate pros and cons of any approach.

  • 1
    I can relate to the every word you said. Keeping the fact about my lack of degree is really a nice tip - I have always been open about it.
    – Dima
    Nov 18, 2016 at 22:07
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    @Dima - yea, I would learn to keep that one to myself if I were you. Your username leads me to believe that you may be from Eastern Europe, as am I. And I know that in those cultures your degree is basically used to calculate your worth. You may be an idiot, but have a master's degree, and people will automatically defer to you, whereas a high school graduate who becomes a self-made millionaire based on his brilliant, and innovative ideas is derided and looked down on. It's the communist-era mentality.
    – AndreiROM
    Nov 18, 2016 at 22:10
  • Oh, yeah, you are 100% right.
    – Dima
    Nov 18, 2016 at 22:35

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