Steps To Becoming A Software Engineer Without A CS Degree

Last Updated on January 25, 2022

Software development is a dynamic field and those who want to be successful in it, need to constantly learn about the latest technology and best practice, since that is where the majority of development jobs are going. However, this is not necessary for people who want to build their own SaaS tools, Android or iOS applications and many others. To become a software engineer without degrees, you need to dedicate enough time and effort to studying what is necessary. In this article we will look at available resources that can help you becoming one even without a college degree.

Steps to Becoming A Software Engineer Without a CS Degree, Software engineer is a job that offers a high standard of living, but obtaining the job is not easy if you do not have a degree. This article will guide you on how to get the job without a degree and also gives you information about courses to be taken so as to become a software engineer.

Steps To Becoming A Software Engineer Without A CS Degree?

By definition, a software engineer is someone who writes the code behind software products (video games, operating systems, apps, features, robots, etc.). 

Is there a difference between a software engineer and a software developer? Not really. The terms are pretty much used interchangeably, and companies tend to view them as the same thing. When you’re on the hunt for a software engineering job, make sure to search and look at postings for both “software engineer” and “software developer” to get the most results.

Be crystal clear about your end goal in software engineering

Transitioning into a new career is not easy. But when you have a final destination in mind, it helps tremendously when you hit bumps in the road.  A crystal-clear goal looks something like this:

  • “I want to work as a software developer at an established tech company.” 
  • “I want to work at a brand new startup, as a software engineer, in the industry I adore.” 
  • “I want to build things on a team, and get paid well for it.” 

No matter the specifics of your dream, if you want to make it through all 11 steps, you MUST be committed to the end goal of becoming a full-time software engineer. That’s what will drive you forward when the going gets tough. 

Practice software development…and practice some more 

While the stack you learn doesn’t matter a whole lot, what does matter is learning by doing. This means dedicating some real time to perfecting your new craft. You must set aside a significant amount of time every day, every week, to learning. 

You can’t become a software developer after 10 hours of practice. It’s just not possible.  

Some people say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert. Now, you don’t need 10,000 hours of practice to get your first software developer job. But you do need to dedicate some serious time.

To give one example, the Computer Science Essentials for Software Development curriculum on edX takes about 4 months (7-9 hours per week) to make it through.

Choose a good software engineering language to learn 

When starting out, many people get stuck deciding which programming language (and framework) they should learn. Ruby on Rails? Python and Django? MEAN stack? So many options, so little time.

Here’s the thing: once you know a particular language/stack well, it is not difficult to transition to a new one. That means that when you’re becoming a software engineer, what you want to focus on is understanding programming fundamentals. In essence, learning how to learn. 

Once you have a solid foundation, you can easily transition to new languages, frameworks, and technologies. As co-founder of Flatiron School Avi Flombaum says, “The most important aspect of it is that you’re learning how to think like a developer.”

Read code written by other software engineers

Another important aspect of becoming a software engineer is learning how to read other people’s code. You can do this by browsing through GitHub repositories, and looking through documentation.

Sometimes, documentation can be wrong…but the source code never lies. By learning to read that code, you’ll be able to understand what’s going on and how a program is working. (This skill is also important when it comes to debugging, because you’ll be able to identify which piece of the code shouldn’t be there.)

This is often an overlooked skill, but it can really benefit you to see how experienced developers do things. Don’t just do a cursory skim of the code, either. Delve in deep, learn the ins and outs, map out the functionality, and finally, recreate it if you can. This way, you’ll be able to reverse-engineer an existing program, helping you understand that much better how to create one of your own.

Use tools that real software developers use 

While free resources like Codecademy are great, you’re not in a real-world environment when you use them. Instead, you’re typing directly into the web browser and getting a score based on a quiz or some other kind of interactive activity.

This is certainly useful as a way to get yourself accustomed to coding and solidifying the concepts in your mind. However, in the real world, you’re not going to be working like this. So, what you want to do from the beginning is to build how real engineers build. You want to use the tools that they use. Down the road, this will make it much easier to transition into a full-time role and join a team.

But it’s hard to build how real devs build, and use tools real devs use, when you’re first starting out. (If you’re anything like I was, it’s hard to even know where to begin.)

Build actual coding projects 

Don’t just read tutorials and watch videos—put your skills into use. Solve problems along the way, just like everyday software developers do. When you do this, you not only further your learning, you also show potential employers that you can hack it. (Because the end-goal is to get a job, right!?) 

You can build projects solo, or with a group. 

For example, by the end of Mammoth Interactive’s Hello Coding: Anyone Can Learn to Code (170 Hours), you’ll have plenty of projects to show off. You’ll build several applications throughout the course. And they’re not just boring “fill in the blanks” projects: they include a Flappy Bird game clone, 3D ping pong game, weather app for iOS, and a finance calculator app for the web.

Cultivate your professional tech network 

As you learn how to code, build projects, etc., you should be slowly but surely cultivating your professional network. Because when it comes to finding a great job, it takes more than just applying for jobs online (which, these days, can just be a waste of time).

Instead, you want to build a strong network. For starters, rely on your existing connections. According to Jobvite, 40% of new hires come via employee referral, making it the most common way. 

Beyond tapping into your first-degree network, you can also get intros to your second-degree connections (friends of friends). The goal is to set up informal coffee meetings with people connected to companies you’d like to work for, which builds connections and sometimes leads to real interviews.

Find a supportive software engineering community 

Finding a community to learn with can make or break your success as a software engineer—especially when you’re just starting out. When you are surrounded by a community of like-minded people, you have an automatic support system: a group of individuals you can call on when you get stuck, or lose motivation. (Both of which can happen to the best of us!) 

In-person groups exist, but can be hard to coordinate with and are not accessible in every area. But anyone can join an online community, and they’re just as helpful.

While learning with Launch School, an online school for software engineers, for example, you gain access to a community forum, which is where Launch School students share studying tips, create study groups, help each other with problems, and everything else you’d expect from a dedicated school. You’ll also get access to their Slack chatroom, where students and staff hangout throughout the day. Not to mention, a monthly meetup-style webinar series called “Tech Talks.”

how to become a software developer at home

10 Basic Tips to Become a Software Developer Without a University Degree

If you’re at this stage of the article, then you should know by now that the talk that revolves around not being able to be a software developer without a university degree is purely myth. As far as your willing and ready to put in the work, you’re good to go.

What’s more? Only 2.4% of those who study computer science or other related courses eventually go on to get jobs in IT related fields. As you can see, you’ve got absolutely nothing to fear.

Don’t have a college degree? Take these steps to become a software engineer;

  1. Be Clear About Your Goals
  1. Learn A Programming Language

When starting out, most people try to do too many things at once. They believe they have to be so proficient in all the programming languages at the same time. The truth is once you’ve mastered a particular programming language, learning others won’t be difficult.

  1. Practice Software Development


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It doesn’t matter how much you’re able to learn in a short time. If you don’t continually practice and seeks to improve your skills/ craft, then it’s all not worth it. Constantly practice what you’ve learnt. That’s more or less the only way you can get better.

  1. Learn From Real Developers

When starting out, you might be drawn to some free and easy to use tools online. The truth is while these tools overly simply things for you, there aren’t what real developers use in real life. So be like real developers, use real tools. You’ll be better off for it in the future.

  1. Learn How To Read Other People’s Codes

This is a vital skill you need to learn if you want to go to the next Level. Sometimes, documentation might be wrong. However, source codes always reveal the truth. Through these codes, you can see how other programmers do their work. You can use GitHub repositories for this purpose. Learning this skill can aid you when detecting bugs in a software.

  1. Join A Community

For a new software developer starting out, its advisable to surround yourself with the right people. The road ahead might be tough but if you have supportive people you can lean on for support, then you are sure of progress.

  1. Undertake Actual Coding Projects

After watching all the videos and undertaking all the tutorials, you really need to put them into practice. Real developers do this and if you dream of being one someday then you have to do same. This way, you’ll have tons of proof to show for your expertise when you’re about to get employed.

  1. Build A Professional Network

In the midst of all your learning and practicing, you should also take out time to build a network. The reason for this network is so you can have job connections when the time comes. Sometimes, applying for job openings online is not worth it. Real software development might not be aggressively advertised. This is where your network comes in.

  1. Pre Interview Essentials Are a Must

Before you eventually start handing out applications for jobs, then you need to do some work behind the scene. Cover letters, online presence, learning how to write a good resume. These are all important skills you need to have before you land the job.

  1. Ace Your Job Interview

This is it. It all or nothing, now or never. Bring you’re A game to your interview. Show your past works, answer questions confidently, show the interviewer what you can bring to the organization and pass the interview like a pro

Benefits of Software Engineering

Software engineering is a very much admired and lucrative profession. It attracts a whole lot of respect and prestige. Software engineers are among the highest paid professionals in the world because of their skills. With the advent of technological innovation, they still have a long way to go at the top.

You can gain the following by being a software engineer;

  • In depth understanding of the workings of a computer
  • Software development skills
  • More lucrative career choices and options.
  • Salary is at least 20% more than other industries.
  • Huge demand of software engineers globally.
  • Flexibility with latest technology

Job Opportunities for a Software Engineer

As a software engineer, you have the advantage of working in a wide variety of positions due to your skills. Software developers are in high demand because of their proficiency and what they can bring to the table.

As a software engineer, you can use your skills in the following areas;

  • Applications developer
  • Game developer
  • Data base administrator
  • Multi media programmer
  • Web designer
  • Web developer
  • Software tester
  • Software Developer
  • IT consultant
  • Application analyst
  • IT sales professional
  • IT technical support officer
  • Sound designer

 how long does it take to become a software engineer without a degree?

Here’s How. You don’t need to study computer programming at uni to get your foot on the coding career ladder. With the right help, training and support, you could go from absolute beginner to junior engineer in as little as 13 weeks — no qualifications required.

what to study to become a software engineer?

You should first earn a degree in computer science or a related field. You should have at least a bachelor’s degree to begin your career as a software engineer.

Majoring in computer science will offer you the most useful background for designing software. Interviewers will ask questions regarding data structures and algorithms. Therefore, the theoretical knowledge provided by traditional computer science degrees best prepares you for this.

However, you will mostly spend your time outside of the classroom coding software and to learn how to write real software.

Supplement your studies

Educational books are frequently outdated. Reference books are revised much slower than software is updated. All the education institutes provide theoretical concepts and ways of thinking that can be important for your success.

Although, how much you will get paid is being able to apply the knowledge of the real-world software. This is where your study helps you.

Here are some ways to supplement your learning:

  • StackOverflow is the most reliable question and answer website for developers. You can search according to the technology, problem space, or language you want to improve in.
  • Sites like CodinGame and CodeWars offer thousands of programming solutions which help you to test your skills.

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