A person looking to become a professional software developer would ideally have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or engineering. If that is you, then you can go ahead and skip to the next section below. However, if you don’t have such a degree and getting one is not feasible then you need to learn about programming and other related skills on your own. This is now easier than it was before due to the increase of online courses, programming bootcamps and coding schools which have made it easier to become a software developer today. While none of these approaches teaches you as much as a regular computer science curriculum, it does teaches you the necessary skills to get started by focusing strictly on what you need to learn to start coding efficiently. Some of these code school programs and online courses will go as far as helping you get a job by referring you to employers looking for entry-level software developers.
A computer science degree is not always necessary
While it is true that most companies require a computer science degree for a software developer position, it is also true that if you demonstrate good programming skills and have a can-do attitude then it is possible for you to get a job as a developer, even without a formal degree. Also, many companies, especially consulting firms and startups probably don’t care about your degree or the lack of one, but instead your programming skills, your drive and your desire to learn!
Whether you have a degree or not, learning specific programming skills and staying up to date with technology is very important. Most schools usually focus in a few well-known programming languages but fail to teach students on what companies are in need of and this is the reason why it is very important to learn some of these things on your own. For example, after you have learned a programming language or two you still need to learn about other things that developers use every day. For example, it is necessary that you learn about source code repositories, version control systems, and source code editors or integrated development environments (IDE) which include many of the tools that you need to design, develop, compile, test and deploy software.
What programming languages to learn
We described the back-end and front-end developers, but there is also the full-stack developer type which basically is an individual that has experience with both back-end and the front-end programming. Being a full-stack developer increases greatly your chances of getting and negotiating a well paid programming job.
Learning to code
I have good news about this, programming is one of those skills that if you have the motivation to learn it, then you will. Many people today are working as software engineers without a computer science degree and that is OK. Many software developers are self-taught and many others are people who choose to change careers and either learned by going through online computer classes or attending in-person code bootcamps. Below is a list of resources that I recommend you look at if you are serious about learning to code and become a software developer:
- CodeCademy – Learn to code interactively, for free.
- Udacity – Advance your career through project-based online classes
- Udemy – Online programming courses
- Khan Academy– Computer programming
- O’Reilly School of Technology – Earn your IT certificate
There are also programming bootcamps and coding schools that you can attend in your city, just do a search and you will more likely find one of these coding schools in your area.
After you learned to code
This is a topic that I will write about in more detail in an upcoming post. In the meantime I can recommend getting some exposure and experience by creating your own software project from scratch to challenge you to use what you learned. Also, take a look at open source projects out there and consider contributing to at least one of them. This helps you not only to work with a real project but it also exposes you to reading code written by talented developers all over the world. There is also the added benefit of collaborating with other developers all over the world which is always fun and a good learning experience.
Below is a list of some websites where you can find open source projects that you can start looking at, playing with and even contributing to today:
- GitHub trending repositories
- Open Source Projects Released By Google
- Facebook code
Becoming a software developer is not an easy task, but it is also not too difficult if you have the drive and the motivation to do it. Also the earning potential is greater than many other careers and the fact that you can get a job without a specific college degree and learn it in a relatively short period of time is really great and an awesome opportunity.
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