Can you become a software developer without a computer science degree?

Can you become a software developer without a computer science degree?

Can you become a software developer without a computer science degree?


You have finally decided what career path to follow.  You want to become a software developer, but you have no qualifications and have not been to University.  You are aware that you are mathematically talented and have a keen interest in computer science but is this enough to become a software engineer without having a degree?  The answer is yes.  You don’t need to study computer programming in order to start a career in coding and if you seek out the right training and support you would be quite capable of going from a beginner to a junior engineer in as little as 12 weeks without having a University qualification!


It is not easy to become a software engineer and it will take a lot of hard work, but it is totally doable, and you can achieve it on your own through self-teaching and networking if you are ambitious enough to see it through from start to finish.



What Is a Software developer?


A software engineer is the person who writes the code behind software products such as video games, applications, robots, features and various operating systems. Software developers have the world at their feet as they are in demand and get paid higher salaries than a lot of other professionals.  It is to be noted that in this day in age positions in software engineering are opening up faster than they can get filled.  Despite myths that you cannot become a software engineer without a university or college degree, a career in this field is attainable, as long as you are willing to put in the hard work and dedication that it takes to follow your dream of becoming a software engineer.


How to take steps towards a career in programming without a degree

Know your goals


Having an end goal is mind is always a good start when it comes to transitioning into a new career or starting your coding career fresh out of high school.  Your goal needs to be clear and concise and you must make sure that you follow them every step of the way without wavering, especially is you are teaching yourself the skills needed to become a software developer.  Commit to your goal of becoming a software engineer and do anything you can to reach it.

Learn Online Skills


There are so many coding sources available to online beginners and you can easily find video tutorials, blogs and podcasts to help you learn coding skills.  If you are a complete beginner, you should look at free Code Camps as well as JavaScript basics.  If you would like something with a little more substance, then it is a good thing to sign up for Treehouse which is an online school aimed at beginners who want to learn coding skills to get into the tech industry. There is a charge of $20 per month but you will be able to access hundreds of online guides and tutorials which will significantly help you in your quest to learn code.  There are many different resources and it is easy to be put off when a certain resource does not work for you. Don’t let this get you down and carry on looking for alternatives that are easier for you to learn.  There are many people who get stuck on deciding with program language to learn first but once you know a particular language well then it is much easier to transition into a new one.  They key is understanding programming fundamentals so as to build a solid foundation.  This will in turn make transitioning into new languages and technologies easy and you will start to think like a developer.  Try to find a flexible and easy to learn language first and then move onto more complex languages.



Join online coding meetups


When you are just starting out it is a good idea to find an online community of software developers who are all like-minded and share a passion for coding.  These kinds of communities are beneficial as you are able to call on one another for motivation or to help you when you get stuck with something.  An online community is way in which to stay in communication with people from around the world who are following the same path as you are.  In these communities you are usually able to gain access to the community forum and share study tips and create study groups.  There are also monthly “Tech Talks” in these communities which offer support and encouragement to all who are members of the community. The UK is home to a community called CodeUpUK and have monthly events that are run by volunteers who offer their services to help others grow their programming skills.  It is a platform in which you can ask questions and meet people of all ages and skill levels to share valuable information and experiences.



Become an apprentice


There are tons of opportunities to take up an apprenticeship in order to develop your coding career.  Apprenticeships are the perfect alternative to University but do require a basic level of qualifications in Math’s, Science and English all depending on the apprenticeship.  Take your time to research the different kinds of apprenticeships and visualize the kind of hands-on experience that will be offered within the company offering the apprenticeship.


Coding bootcamp


A coding bootcamp is an amazing program where you get to experience in-person program teaching as well as immersive and intensive lessons.  These coding bootcamps normally run over the course of about 12 weeks and are structured around the fundamentals of core programming. These bootcamps offer a favourable staff-to-student teaching ratio and there is always a teacher around for you to get help from should you have any questions or issues surrounding your learning.


Set aside a lot of time every day to practice on and perfect your new skill.  To become a software developer, you need many hours or practice. It has been said that it can potentially take up to 10 000 hours of practice to become an expert software developer.   It is not possible to develop and grow your skills without dedicating your time to practicing code.


Read code


Learn how to read other developers code by looking though documentation held in GitHub and other available resources.  When you learn to read code, you essentially develop the skills to understand how the program is working. This is a very advantageous skill to have when it comes to debugging and identifying pieces of code that do not belong in a certain program.  Learn how to read the code and its functionality and even try to recreate it and reverse-engineer an existing program to enhance your skills.


Build coding projects


Building projects can be done alone or in a group and is a wonderful way to make projects that you can show off to potential employers as well as assist you in solving problems much like a professional software developer does when they are building their own projects.


Start your own professional network

Build and develop your professional network as you go.  This is the best way to go when looking for a job in software engineering.


  • Go to meetups
  • Maintain a blog
  • Volunteer
  • Speak at events
  • Contribute to the software industry
  • Register with LinkedIn, GitHub and Twitter


Get the job!


One you have built up networks and connections with peers in this field of study you can make solid connections and hopefully secure an interview.  Make sure to have your updated resume and cover letter specific to the job you are applying for as well as a strong online presence.  Employers tend to check for a good online presence.  A resume is used by the employer to take a snapshot of your experience and skills, so it is important, even in todays times to have a good resume drawn up and ready at all times.

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