How to Become a Software Developer Without CS Degree

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According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual pay for a Software Developer in the United States is $86,523 year. (As of 2020) That’s pretty good!

However, only 3% of college grads study computer and information science. What does it mean? You don’t necessarily need a degree to become a software developer!

In this post, you’ll learn how to become a software developer without a computer science degree.

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DISCLOSURE: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a small commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no additional cost to you. Please read my full disclaimer here for more info.

First, what is Software Developer?

By definition, a software engineer is someone who writes the code behind software products. Some people misunderstand the difference between web developers and software developers.

Web developers are mainly concerned with websites and web applications that run on internet browsers, while software developers are more focused on computer programs for desktop and mobile devices.

Some examples of programming languages for software development:

  • Java
  • Python
  • C++
  • Scala
  • Objective C (mobile development)

Some examples of programming languages for web application development:

  • PHP
  • JavaScript
  • .NET
  • SQL (data manipulation language)

Now, Follow These Steps

No matter the specifics of your dream, these steps help you to get there:

  1. Be crystal clear about your end goal (choose which languages to learn)
  2. Make a plan (create a local development environment on your desktop, take online courses, or join a coding Bootcamp)
  3. Get some books
  4. Practice, practice, practice
  5. Read code written by other programmers 
  6. Build actual coding projects
  7. Prepare for your pre-interview
  8. Apply for the jobs
  9. Get job interview
  10. Accept the job offer and officially become a software developer

#1 Be crystal clear about your end goal

Why do you want to be a software developer? What is your end goal? What languages do you need to learn to achieve your end goal? Before moving on to the next step, you need to decide your end goal.

Tips: Once you know a particular language, it is not difficult to transition to a new one. Try your best to understand the logic and learn “how-to-learn.”

#2 Make a plan

If you decided to learn by yourself, set up a local development environment on your desktop.

If you decided to take some online courses, I highly recommend Codecademy or Udemy. You don’t have to set up a local development environment on your desktop. It’s all on the Cloud. (that’s why I like it)

If you decided to join a Coding Bootcamp, research a lot! Coding Bootcamp won’t make you a programmer. I’m sure that most of the coding activities at Coding Bootcamp will be self-study.

#3 Get some books

This is supplemental help. I highly recommend getting books that include a lot of sample code, so you can test it out.

I studied software development with these books:

#4 Practice, practice, practice

Write lots of code and test them out!

Try your best to understand why the error happened and how to fix them. The more you write code, the more you become a better coder.

Tips: Google error code. You’ll find tons of resources about what is it and why it happened.

#5 Read code written by other programmers 

Another effective way to become a better developer is learning how to read other people’s code. You can do this by googling sample code on the internet or browsing through GitHub repositories.

#6 Build actual coding projects

Don’t just watch YouTube videos, create them! Solve problems along the way, just like professional software developers. You can build projects in the local environment or on the internet. Here are the 3 Best Python Hosting Services For New Developers in 2020.

If you have no idea where to start, don’t worry. Here are some ideas to build actual coding projects:

  1. Create a Simple Rental Car Cost Estimator
  2. Create a Simple Grocery List
  3. Create a Simple ATM

#7 Prepare for your pre-interview

For the job interviews, you’ll need these: resumes, cover letters, and your online presence. Online presence is petty important for anyone in the tech industry. Your online presence could be:

#8 Apply for the jobs

Try these websites to search for software developer jobs that fit your lifestyle.

  • Indeed – one of the largest job sites out there!
  • AngelList – want to work at a startup? This site is a perfect place to search for entry-level developer jobs at startup companies.
  • Startupers – Another site to find startup-specific openings.
  • FlexJobs – this site has remote, or telecommuting, job listings only.
  • Working Nomads – remote jobs for digital working nomads.
  • We Work Remotely – an entirely remote job site.

#9 Get a job interview

Every organization has a different process for their interviews, but there are typical ways:

  • You submit the resume
  • The recruiter will check your resume and if they think you are the right candidate, move on to the next step
  • The recruiter will call you
  • Hiring manager phone call to screen on technical skills and experience
  • In-house interview

#10 Accept the job offer and officially become a software developer

Congrats! After you make it through a series of interviews, it’s just a matter of time before you get an offer. It might be entry-level at first, but you can build your career from there.

Wrapping Up

Is it hard to become a software developer? Short answer, yes. It’s not easy. You’ll get frustrated sometimes. You’ll be sick of not knowing what’s going on.

In the 1st year of my coding life, I had no idea what was happening. In the 2nd year of my coding life, I was struggling with commitment anxiety. In the 3rd year of cording life, I finally felt comfortable working alone. It takes time.

Learning about object-oriented programming concepts along the way, my programming skills improve dramatically. I actually enjoy coding! I’ve been trying so many different languages for fun now.

If you dream of becoming a software developer, do not skip any steps. Step-by-step is the most effective strategy here.

Last but least tip: It’s always good to learn about hiring. The article from Toptal, “How to Hire a Great Software Developer / Software Engineer,” describes what skills are needed in the development field.

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