Do you need a master's degree in computer science to have a successful programming career? Of course not. Programming is a skill. With education and practice, you can enhance your programming skills and find a relevant job. But there are a few reasons why you might want to pursue a master's degree in computer science.
If you enjoyed the computer science subject during your undergraduate studies, a master's program will let you continue your computer science education at a deeper level. An undergraduate computer science program focuses mostly on fundamentals. There is only so much you can cover in four years. With the basics out of the way, you can follow a more specialized path in a graduate program.
Having a master's degree in computer science immediately elevates your tech stature at your current or prospective company. For example, when internally debating a job offer or promotion, a company will highlight your master's degree as justification. Another example is interfacing with customers. A master's degree gives you instant credibility in the eyes of customers, whether you deserve it or not.
Some companies offer tuition reimbursement. If you are fortunate enough to have this benefit, then the only resource you need is time. Why not take advantage of it? Think about all the students and professionals who want to pursue a master's degree in computer science but do not have the funding. Your company must value advanced degrees if it is willing to pay for it. If you have ever considered pursuing a doctorate degree, a master's degree will move you one step closer to that goal.
Would you like to teach computer science at a university one day? A master's degree will help you attain that goal. Most universities hire adjunct professors to teach computer science courses. A master's degree and relevant job experience will make you a strong candidate for an adjunct faculty position. A master's degree is usually a minimum requirement.
In conclusion, a master's degree in computer science is not a requirement for your programming career. But if you can pursue a master's degree, at least consider it. It will open many doors for you. I can personally attest to that.
Edwin Torres is a full-time software engineer at The MITRE Corporation and an adjunct professor of computer science at Monmouth University. Contact him on Twitter @realEdwinTorres.