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Type of things companies look for

I've been poking around job listings for programming jobs and every single one requests some type of college degree. I wanted to know if anyone currently working as a programmer could answer my question....

Do they really require a degree, or can I break into the type of job without one?

Like for example, in the networking field I could just hammer out some cisco certs (instead of going for a college degree) and I'd be able to find work. I've done some searching for programming certs and it seems there isn't really any out there. The most I could find was some java certs oracle puts out, but can never really find job listings that mention them.
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Generally, If you're really good - they will hire you without any degree. And even if you're just OK.
Moreover, if you spend those few years self-studying programming and getting relevant job experience, at the end you will be likely to have real advantage comparing to those who spent time on just getting diploma.
At least things are so here, in Russia, surely it can differ depending on country and and exact employer.
Do they really require a degree, or can I break into the type of job without one?

Your biggest problem without a degree is getting an interview. Employers may have numerous applicants for any given position, and a college degree is just another filter that they put up to narrow down the amount of work that they need to put into finding an ideal candidate...because let's face it, interviewing all 100 applicants simply won't work in modern businesses.

There is one sure-fire way to sidestep this though, and that's by knowing someone on the inside.
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@Shiva dzhee
That may be true in your country, but it certainly isn't in the US. Many companies use head hunters to find applicants and a head hunter wont consider anyone without a degree. Your best bet for breaking in without a degree are, as Luc said know someone on the inside, get in on the ground floor in a new company, start your own or get really really lucky.
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