Job opportunities in IT are available to people who have the required talents. Software engineers may work for companies without degrees if they possess adequate coding skills. A software engineering job, with an average yearly income of more than $100,000 and the ability to work remotely, seems to be the ideal dream job for many individuals.
In this blog post, I will be explaining my thoughts on how to become a software engineer without having to go to college or university and get a computer science degree. There is a high demand for software engineers in the job market today, and with the right skills and preparation, you can be one of them! I will outline what you need to know and do in order to make this rewarding career change possible. So whether you are short on time or money, or just want a different path than traditional higher education offers, keep reading for my tips.
The Benefits of Becoming a Software Engineer
There are many benefits to becoming a software engineer. With the ever-growing demand for qualified software engineers, there has never been a better time to enter the field. And, with the right skills and training, you can become a software engineer without spending years and thousands of dollars on a college degree.
Here are some of the main benefits of becoming a software engineer:
The median annual salary for software engineers is $110,140, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And, with experience and expertise, you can easily earn six figures or more.
The number of jobs for software engineers is expected to grow by 24% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.
As a software engineer, you can work remotely from anywhere in the world. Or, you can choose to live and work in any city with a strong tech industry, such as San Francisco, New York City, Seattle, or Austin.
Many software engineering jobs offer flexible schedules and the ability to work from home, at least part of the time. So, if you value work-life balance, this is a great career to consider.
Making a Difference
As a software engineer, you can use your skills and knowledge to build applications that make people's lives better. Whether you're working on the next big social media platform or developing life-saving medical software, you can feel good knowing that your work is making a positive impact.
How to Get Started in Software Engineering
Now that you know some of the main benefits of becoming a software engineer, you may be wondering how to get started in the field without a bachelor's degree.
Choose Your Niche
Once you've decided to become a software engineer, the next step is to choose your niche. This is the area of software development that you want to specialize in.
There are numerous niches in software development, so find one that fits your talents and interests. Here are a few popular niches to consider:
- Web development
- Mobile app development
- Game development
- Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) development
- Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) development
- Cloud computing
I recommend starting with web development because it's the easiest concept to understand for complete beginners.
Web development is the process of making a website. There are two parts to web development: the front-end and back-end. The front-end is what you see on the website, like the text and pictures. The back-end is how the website works, like how it stores information or how it connects to other websites.
Choose a Programming Language
The next step is to choose a programming language. This is the language that you'll use to write code. There are dozens of different programming languages, so it's important to choose one that will be in demand and useful for the type of software development you want to do.
There are two kinds of programming languages: compilable and interpretational. Compilable languages are compiled into machine code, which is the code that a computer can understand and run. Interpretational languages are analyzed by another program, which then runs the code.
Compilable languages are usually faster and more efficient, but they can be harder to learn. Interpretational languages are usually easier to learn, but they can be slower and less efficient.
You should choose one programming language and concentrate your learning efforts on it. Don't jump from one language to another at the beginning. It’ll just make you more confused.
Here are four popular programming languages for beginners recommended by industry professionals:
It makes no difference what language you choose because you'll just be learning the fundamentals of algorithmization. All you have to do now is learn the basic syntax of the language you've picked. Later on, once you've acquired basic programming abilities, switching to another language will not be difficult.
Learn Programming Fundamentals
Once you've chosen a programming language, it's time to start learning how to code. This process begins with algorithmization—the ability to solve problems by breaking them down into smaller, manageable steps.
If you're not sure how to get started, there are plenty of resources available online, such as coding bootcamps, online courses, and tutorial videos.
Taking software development courses will give you the skills you need. However, you'll also need to have experience working on projects. This is how you'll learn how to apply your skills in the real world and make yourself more attractive to employers.
There are two ways to get an experience: work on personal projects or contribute to open-source projects. Many software engineers prefer to do both. However, I propose first developing your own projects because open-source initiatives need more programming skills and more advanced technical expertise in order to start.
Find a Mentor
Finding a mentor is essential when learning how to code. A mentor can help guide you and give you advice on how to improve your technical skills. In addition, a mentor can help you find software engineer job opportunities and connect you with other software engineers in the industry.
If you don't know any software engineers, try joining a coding club or online community. You can also attend meetups and conferences in your area.
In addition to finding a mentor, it's essential to network with other software engineers. Networking can help you find job opportunities, learn about new technologies, and stay up-to-date on industry trends.
There are plenty of ways to network with other software engineers. You can attend meetups, join online communities, and connect with other professionals on LinkedIn.
Build Your Portfolio
Start by working on small personal projects and then move on to collaborating with others on larger projects. As you build your portfolio, be sure to include examples of your code, as well as any applications or websites you have created.
The best place to keep your portfolio is GitHub. You can register a free account and get familiar with git source control, which is one of the fundamental skills every software developer should master.
To assess your coding style and abilities, some employers may request a link to your GitHub profile. So it is very important you keep it clean and organized.
A one-pager resume website is a common thing to have these days for IT professionals. This is an excellent way of showcasing your skills and work experience to potential employers.
Prepare for Interviews
Interviewing for a software engineer job can be nerve-wracking, but if you prepare for it well, you'll increase your chances of getting the software developer job.
Technical interviews for software engineers can be challenging, but with the right preparation, you can increase your chances of success. The interviewer will likely ask questions about your programming skills, so it's important to be familiar with the languages/technologies in the job description. You should also be familiar with basic algorithms and data structures. Most likely, you won't be writing code during the interview for an entry-level job.
The interviewer will also want to see that you have a strong understanding of software development basics. Some key skills and topics every skilled software engineer should be familiar with:
- Operating systems
- Software development life cycle
- Source control basics
- Object-oriented programming principles
- Basics of database management
- Agile principles
- Cloud platforms
Job descriptions for software engineer jobs can vary, so make sure you are familiar with all software engineering skills listed in the job description.
Here are the most popular resources to help you prepare for the technical part of the interview:
It's also a good idea to brush up on your soft skills. The interviewer will likely ask questions about how you would handle different situations that may come up during the software development process.
Some common interview questions for software developers include:
- Tell me about a time when you had to solve a complex problem.
- How would you handle a situation where you disagreed with your team member?
- How do you collaborate effectively with other developers?
- What do you enjoy doing the most when working with code?
- What is the most challenging problem you've ever solved?
In order to answer interview questions effectively, you need to do your research. First, make sure you understand the company's culture and values. You should also be familiar with the job description and the requirements for the position.
Practice makes perfect, so try to do a mock interview with a friend or family member before your actual interview. It will help you feel more prepared and confident on the day of your interview.
Here are a few resources to help you prepare for your software engineer interview:
- Cracking the Coding Interview (Udemy course based on this book)
- Algorithms Illuminated
- Programming Interviews Exposed
Start Applying for Entry-Level Opportunities
Look for job postings that match your skills and experience level. If you're just starting, don't be afraid to apply for entry-level positions. You can also look for internships and apprenticeships to get your foot in the door.
Once you've found a few positions you're interested in, it's time to start writing your cover letter and resume. Again, be sure to tailor your CV to each job you're applying for.
I highly recommend looking for employment in small businesses or workshops. Working in a smaller firm will significantly improve your programming experience for every hour you put into it.
And finally, don't forget to follow up after submitting your application. A quick email or phone call can go a long way in making a good impression on a potential employer.
Best of luck on your job search!
Becoming a software engineer without a degree isn't as difficult as many people think. It can be not easy to learn how to code, but you need to keep practicing and stay motivated. The skills you are working on will pay you back soon.
This concludes my guide on how to become a software engineer without a degree. I hope this information was helpful and that you will be able to use it to start your software engineering career. Thank you for reading!