I've been busy lately developing a LARGE solution for a client with practically no hope of gaining console or CA access. This pretty much relegates my efforts to developing in SharePoint's middle tier, so that no solutions need to be packaged, no code goes into the GAC, and no VS used. This means scripting vs. coding. As an old Perl hacker, this is fun to me. We've been able to rapidly develop and deploy a complex "no-code" solution in SharePoint.
But, can I really call myself a SharePoint "developer"? I don't think so, but maybe. In any case, let's review the SharePoint's "Development" Tiers:
Bottom/Tier 1--COTS, aka OOB or End User. Can you click "Site Actions" -> "Edit Page"? You are a SharePoint developer now!
Middle/Tier 2--Scripting using SharePoint Designer (SPD). Tons of effort goes in here, as well as patience. SPD is free, but it isn't free. It's the most frustrating software I've ever used. Learn DHTML/XML/XSLT/CSS/Master Pages/JQuery/Web Services.
Top/Tier 3--Coding and packaging SharePoint solutions in Visual Studio. This is the true "developer" tier. If you are here, you are in great demand (MOSS 2007) and probably don't have an 80 BELF Paladin.
My life was once filled with fancy server-side scripts, but now I'm just another SharePoint consultant.