Becoming a professional software developer without a computer science degree requires you to go through a specific process and develop the habit of self-learning. It also includes forming a plan that dictates different kinds of jobs that you can work towards. Once you are consistent with the plan and determined with your desire to work as a software developer, you can land a job within a couple of months.
Learning to Code Without Institutional Training
Some software developers working with companies do not have a degree or have never paid for any material in their learning process. In this day and age, you can learn to code using completely free-of-cost sources available on the internet.
Leaning to code involves learning a programming language that the computer understands. Once you gain command over the basics, you can begin programming computers to perform a specific function. There are different programming languages that you can learn. Python is one of the most popular languages. Java, HTML, and CSS are coding languages that you can use to build web pages.
To become a software developer, you do not need to learn these languages extensively. Instead, you need to have sound knowledge of using syntax and knowing the proper commands to formulate an algorithm. Along with all this knowledge, you also need to have a slight fascination with how coding and the internet work.
Needless to say, programming is challenging, and to gain sufficient command over this skill, you need to be a persistent problem-solver. Problem-solving is a huge part of being a software developer and is structured into almost all developer jobs.
Becoming a Software Developer without A Degree
You can take many different pathways to become a software developer without the conventional institutional route. Here, we will demystify the various processes involved in making your career as a software developer.
The first option you need to give importance to when starting your journey into coding is self-study. This means you need to be comfortable with the vast information you find online. It would help if you also adapted to reading coding books and learning things yourself.
Keep in mind that the field of software development is ever-changing and evolving. It moves rapidly, and you need to build a habit of self-learning. As a beginner, self-studying will require you to start by learning the basics of computer science.
Even though it may be tempting to leap into advanced tasks such as app or software development, it is not the best way forward. Taking shortcuts in a software engineering career can be detrimental in the long run. The best sources you need are also free of cost on a different platform, making the self-study process an easy endeavor.
These beginner courses may be old, but the foundations of computer science have not changed, so you do not have to worry about them being outdated. After you complete the beginner-level courses, considering you have no background in computer science, you can start moving towards in-depth programming language sources. Self-study is complex and requires plenty of discipline and commitment. It involves creating a schedule and performing self-evaluation, which is why it is not an option for many.
As mentioned earlier, self-study is not an option for people who work more proficiently with guidance. With a boot camp, a more informed trainer will formulate your learning structure. You do not have to think about where to start; you can focus on learning. If this sounds more appealing, a boot camp may be your option for becoming a software developer.
However, remember that boot camps are even more effective if they incorporate self-studying. Self-studying before joining a boot camp will make it easier for you to excel in the program. It will also give you an idea of the field of software development you are most comfortable with. Having this leverage will set you up for success in a boot camp.
Whether you want to thoroughly self-study or you plan to rely on a boot camp, self-studying will expose you to your interests as a software developer, and this will help you make the right choice regarding the boot camps. This brings you to the next question.
How do You Select Boot Camps?
The prerequisite to choosing boot camps is knowing what type of software development intrigues you; self-study can help you determine it. Many boot camps focus on front-end development skills since it is less technical. However, your interest may lie in becoming a full-stack software developer or an infrastructure engineer. Knowing what you want to do beforehand can be pivotal in deciding which boot camp will be good for you.
Once you have completed the self-study and determined your interests, select a boot camp that covers all the basics that you will need to become a specialized software developer of your choice. Also, research the boot camp according to their placements to ensure that you land a developer job after completing the boot camp.
Knowing whether a placement will help you get a job means that you have to actively find out whether the boot camp graduates in the previous batch have gotten jobs. This will give you an idea of their placement rates.
Do not be afraid to email them or call them about the number of students who have a job after graduating. You can also ask about the average time it takes for a student to find a job after they have graduated from a particular boot camp.
Work on Projects
Suppose you have decided that you need to get into the profession of software development without a degree after self-study or graduation from learning programs. In that case, you need to find projects. Simply knowing how to code a program using a particular language is not enough to land a decent job. Software development companies are looking for individuals that have successfully worked on a specific project.
Listing out projects you have worked on will be an incredible advantage in getting a job as a software developer. People with experience in practically implementing code to land jobs are more likely to get approached for jobs than people with a degree. In software engineering, practical experience and skills are essential traits to possess if you want to be successful.
Therefore, it is best to look at what other engineers have done and determine the type of projects they have completed before ending up as software developers. This can give you an idea of the type of projects you should be working on after learning how to code.
Make a Good Resume
Assuming that you have completed self-learning, graduated from a boot camp or learning program, and successfully worked on projects, you must build a solid resume. If you have a good resume, you can increase your chances of becoming a software developer. Many believe they can list things on a resume that will get them a job.
Unfortunately, this is not how it works. A recruiter will only analyze your resume in 6 to 8 seconds. Hence, it would be best if you made a solid resume that stands out and is consistent according to your skills. It should also clearly show your key strengths and interests.
Also, ensure that you do not make a resume that claims a bunch of things you cannot do. In other words, do not lie in your resume so that companies have clear expectations of what you can offer. Instead of making false claims, you can use other methods to make your resume more attractive. This can involve improving its structure or making it easy to read through.
You will need to network if you have worked on your own to develop software engineering skills and have not relied on a degree program. The advantage of going through a university is that it makes it easier for you to meet and network with people in the industry. This networking leads to job opportunities.
You must ensure you have a community to reach out to or a network to expose yourself to new opportunities. This can be tricky. You have to get referrals or ask about companies to get leads to potential job opportunities. Networking is, therefore, a critical step. If you join a boot camp, all your colleagues will be your network.
All the friends and acquaintances you make during the learning process are your networks. It is best to keep them close to you, be supportive, and stay up to date with their activities. Some of your friends will get jobs, and when their companies start hiring, they will be happy to contact you first.
Another great way to build a network is to attend software development meet-ups and conferences. Many programming events are open to everyone. They are also all virtual, so joining them can also be convenient. These events allow you to make new friends in the space, learn about new opportunities and trends, and get ideas regarding new projects you can work towards.
Prepare for Company Interviews
There are two different types of companies that you can work for. The first type includes low and mid-tier companies, and the second includes larger corporations and companies. Smaller startups often expect new hires to make a good impact in their position immediately. Therefore, the interview for these companies will be conversational and relaxed.
These interviews will also be more domain-based, which means that if you work on a specific programming language, then much of the conversation will revolve around it. If you have experience and have worked on projects similar to what they offer, you will be comfortable with the interview.
For this reason, interviewing for a job you are familiar with will give you more confidence and, thus, lead to a better interview. If you want to go for a top-tier company as a developer, your experience may get you to the discussion, but as soon as it starts, you will notice that it will be a very structured process. Therefore, you will have to prepare for the interview standard they have.
Transitioning into the Field
A combination of the above processes can help you land the software developer position you want, in the company you desire. As you can see, transitioning into the field of software engineering without a degree is not that difficult and also possible. If you find coding fascinating, you have stuck to a specific niche in software development, and you have worked on projects, then a degree is not necessary to become a software developer.
Also, be open to turning down jobs and following the path of entrepreneurship. If you know how to code, and have an idea with potential, then turning it into a startup can be incredible. Even though this path is full of hardships, struggles, and unpredictability, if you are determined and truly believe in your product or service, you can have to enjoy a lucrative and rewarding software developer career.
Since transitioning into a career as a software developer can be tricky, being picky with the opportunities you get will not work in your favor. You are less likely to get a position in exactly the job that you want, which is why you try and get into different job positions, and slowly get into the development process by earning the trust of the company you work with.
From a company’s standpoint, it is less risky to hire a developer than to risk hiring someone new. The chances of you converting from a role that you did not fancy, to the role of a software developer are much higher. Landing your dream position instantly is not a common occurrence if you are starting your journey as a developer.
Keeping your mind open to trying different jobs as long as they are in the field of software can be a great way to start without a degree. Larger tech companies have initiatives that allow developers that do not have a degree to get an opportunity in the company.
Push Through the Learning Curve
When learning how to code, you will find that the learning curve is very steep, and many people end up giving up due to it. Despite the fact that it can be challenging and overwhelming, to ensure success as a software developer is to make sure that you can push through it. Once you persevere, you will find it to become easier and more enjoyable. The people that manage to become software developers without a degree are ones that manage to not give up in the face of adversity.
To sum it up, becoming a software developer without a degree requires you to self-study and get a grasp of the field and its various options. If coding naturally comes easy to you, then begin looking through books and online resources and start working on projects that will strengthen your resume. On the other hand, you can select a good boot camp for better training and guidance.